Travel Journal 2016 Week 24: Longyearbyen to London

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June 19, 2016: Sunday Roast
(London, UK)

The most amazing part of my travels have been the phenomenal individuals I’ve met. Day in and day out I am in awe of the truly spectacular people I call my friends. To go across the world and never feel like a stranger gives me a sense of satisfaction I cannot even describe. Tomorrow I set off to Florida for a reunion with friends I met in Antarctica, today I’m having drinks with friends I’ve made in Africa.

After catching up with friends in the morning a few of us continued on in search of a proper Sunday roast. Based on the reviews we chose The Albert, a pub near Victoria Station. Well decorated on the outside we had high hopes. We ordered our roasts and sipped our beers. After 45 minutes, we began to wonder where our roasts were. I complained and the bartender picked up a phone to research where the food was (a phone?!). Finally a waitress offered us our money back and the roasts. We are them and began laughing heartily, it tasted exactly like the Sunday roast at work (not a good thing). The only difference was it was much worse than the work roast. Laughing at how poorly things worked out we headed in for an early night so I could pack for my travel the next day.

June 18, 2016: Friendly FriendsĀ 

(London, UK)

The day began by running out to Shoreditch to catch up with one of my Antarctica friends. It was a great chance to remember how amazing that group of people is before seeing the rest of them next week. We met at The Breakfast Club, a trendy breakfast cafe with a lot of great dishes (like chicken and waffles) and a line out the door.

In the evening we took a walk through Soho to look for dinner options. We heard music blasting and followed it to an outdoor jazz band. After an hour of Prosecco and great jazz we headed up the street for dinner. We ended the night dancing at the Friendly Society.

June 17, 2016: Neighborhoods of London

(London, UK)

An uneventful day I spent most of the day helping a friend check out neighborhoods. We went from station to station wandering and then finally Ubered around to check out the final few. We had hoped to get more done but we’re not feeling the best. Overall I think we were both quite impressed with Goodge, a neighborhood I had never heard of before. It was a great chance to familiarize myself with London.

June 16, 2016: High Tea and New Orleans

(London, UK)

Another day in London and I was reminded how amazing the city is. I started the day unloading some excess luggage at the Salvation Army then met up with a friend of a friend to do some ‘touristy’ things. I suggested we head to the Sunken Cities exhibit at the British Museum. I was happily surprised to see a vast collection of giant statues that were recovered from the mouth of the Nile Delta.

My new friend next suggested we indulge in High Tea. I realized in all the times I had been to London I had never been to high tea. The Hotel Royal has a very high end high tea in the Oscar Wilde Lounge. Seeming endless cups of tea and savory sandwiches flooded our table. By the end we were jittery with sugar and caffeine. It was also time to go back to the flat and pick up our friend. After collecting him and catching up Game of Thrones we went to two trendy Shoreditch clubs, Collay Collah and Nola. Nola, a New Orleans themed bar, had a bluesy singer with his guitar and harmonica helping the crowd relax.

June 15, 2016: Laundry Day

(London, UK)

Back in London after a few weeks in Svalbard is quite a change. The weather was a mix of light rain and blinding sun, the sounds of the city are deafening. The hostel I’ve chosen is both in a sketchy neighborhood and in the middle of a construction zone. I spent the day doing laundry, grabbing some things from storage and then having a great dinner with friends.

We chose a swanky Italian restaurant, Latium. The food was delicious and such a change from the menu on the ship. We had several fresh cheeses and my Lemon Ricotta Ravioli was a light mix of some great flavors.

June 14, 2016: Sunny Day

(Longyearbyen, Norway to London, UK)

I woke up this morning to warmth pouring through the window, splitting the curtains I saw Svalbard was having a rare warm (43 F) and sunny day. Negotiating all my things into my suitcase was quite a task and after about an hour I was finally ready to head out into the sunshine. Looking out into Advent Bay it seemed I could see forever. The white peaks were crystal clear across the bright blue water.

At lunchtime I headed to the airport for my flight to Tromso, Oslo, and then London. Upon arrival at the airport I immediately remembered my fear of flying. It was partially forgotten when I saw the stunning view from our take-off. Unfortunately my luck didn’t hold out, a two hour line in immigration at Heathrow delayed me and had me crawling into my sketchy Hostel bed about 2 AM.

June 13, 2016: Introvert day

(Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway)

Two weeks on a ship is a long time to be social. As a self-described introvert (with extrovert tendencies) I was in need of a quiet day to re-charge. For one of the first times in what seems like months my room had a tv with one or two English language news channels. Turning it on I quickly was saddened to see the events in Orlando, a place I will be in just a few weeks. I watched hours of coverage and am heartbroken for all those affected.

Later in the day I walked to have dinner with a friend. Longyearbyen has one section that it is about a mile from the main area, I trekked up there for dinner and found it to be a bit nerve wracking as I expected a polar bear to jump out at any moment. No polar bears made an appearance but I did see a beautiful near sunset on the way down. One part of the sky was blowing away the clouds and was a brilliant blue while the west glowed orange over the islands.