14.12.23 — Travel

Visiting Rhea in London

After acting as host for Ellie and Johann in Madrid, it was now time for me to be hosted myself as I flew off to stay with Rhea for a few days in London. This trip had been planned for the weeks after my trip to Japan, but my passport fiasco in Tokyo meant I had to delay this trip back to my homeland’s capital for a couple of months.

My flight into Stansted landed in the late afternoon, which meant it was already dark in the UK when I arrived. As my train then trundled along towards the centre of London, I checked the instructions that Rhea had left me to get to her place as I was having to let myself in. She was up in Leeds, celebrating the engagement of our friend Sophie, so I had to rock up at her place accompanied only by a bag of onion rings that I picked up at a Tesco on the way there. I do miss Tesco.

Once unpacked at Rhea’s, I headed off to another supermarket and picked up some bits so that we could have tea (evening meal) when she got in. This we did, and in true Rhea style she whipped up some delicious food before the two of us headed off to bed.

The next day we headed out for breakfast at one of Rhea’s favourite local cafés, where I was not disappointed by the selection of delicious pastries and tasty coffee. From there, we wandered down Portabello Road, perusing the antiques and second hand goods that were sprawled across the stalls along the way.

The smell of fresh bread in the cool Sunday sun was irresistible.

As midday came around I left Rhea in a bookshop and scuttled off to the Underground station, as I’d arranged to meet up with Ellie who was also in London. It was as if I’d not seen enough of her after having her over in Madrid just days before!

I hopped off in Richmond, where I was greeted by my sister who was on a video call with my parents. She showed me around the picturesque London town, including the waterfront where I was unceremoniously pooed on by a passing seagull. Not on my new coat!

After a quick snoop around some shops and other quirky streets of the old Richmond town centre, we were ready for some grub and so wandered into a local Italian restaurant. There we shared some delicious dishes and had a proper catch up: a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

As the afternoon wore on Ellie had to head off and so I made my way back to Ladbroke Grove to meet back up with Rhea. We then made our way to Camden to spend the evening together, where we grabbed some lush Chinese street food before walking to the top of a hill to hopefully catch a view of some Bonfire Night fireworks. Remember, remember, the fifth of November…

This one was taken by a lady who kept calling Rhea – correctly – a very beautiful lady.

Our Bonfire Night adventure turned out to be a bit of a damp squib. I couldn’t for the life of me find any bonfire toffee, there were no sparklers for sale in sight, and we didn’t even see that many fireworks. You know it’s a poor do when the crowd are cheering at the smallest firework off in the distance! I guess that’s the British for you.

The next day I headed off to work at a local coworking spot, after which I headed back to Rhea’s place for a girl’s night in with Izzy, who I haven’t seen in person since she came to visit a couple of years ago. The three of us had a wonderful catch up over some more delicious food by Rhea: it was like being back at university all over again, when the three of us lived together in our final year.

Rhea then joined me at the coworking office the next day, where we managed to bag some tickets to see a musical that very same night. Costing us just £25, we were super buzzed as we headed out for an evening to watch The Book of Mormon in the West End.

The show was absolutely hilarious: we were crying tears of laughter all the way through. It was curious that we should end up watching The Book of Mormon, as just a week or so prior to my trip to London I’d seen that it had just arrived here in Madrid, too. I’m glad I went to see it in English, though, even if I am curious to see how the jokes would translate into Spanish.

I had the next day off work to head back to Madrid, but as I wasn’t flying until the afternoon, Rhea and I once again headed for some croissants and coffee at the local café. As Rhea then had to head off, I bade her farewell and thanked her for being the hostess with the mostest, then heading over to Spitalfields Market to have a nosey around that area.

Spitalfields was nice, but a bit too crowded and commercialised for me.

As I then took the train back up to Stansted Airport, I chatted to Loredana and David who were passing through Madrid for just one day before flying off to South America for an extended holiday. Unfortunately they’d be flying just about the time I landed, so I’d just miss them by a matter of hours. Damn!

When I landed in Madrid, though, I was surprised to find that Loredana was still online and messaging me. It turns out that their flight had been delayed somewhat, so if I could make it from Terminal 1 to Terminal 4 on time I might just be able to say hello for five minutes. I sped off to get the airport bus, spent the journey wishing that the driver would step on it a little bit more, and then jumped off the bus and ran into Terminal 4 to almost run directly into the two of them who had just finished checked in the moment I arrived.

Ecstatic to see each other and amazed by the perfect coincidence, the three of us spent ten minutes chatting away and giving each other hugs in a rather empty Terminal 4. I then bade them farewell and they headed off to Chile whilst I headed off for the train back to my neighbourhood. There, I nipped into my local bar and grabbed a pork and cheese sandwich.

In a battle between Tesco and my local bar, I’m still not sure who would win…