Lost in London
Since I love sharing travel stories, I thought I would change things up a bit and tell a story of my own. This one is a classic! Some of you may have heard it before since it was one of my first posts on my previous (failed) blogging attempt. This is the story of the first time I attempted to use the Overground train in London. It was about a week after I had moved over the pond.
Travel Joy Hostel had turned into a second home in London. As most of my friends in this city worked there, I seemed to always go back. This was the hostel that I stayed at when I arrived in London. So, when I had my fair share of awkward discoveries of new places, I went back here to feel comfortable. The chicken Pad Thai from the pub had become my weekly craving, and the Open Mic Nights on Friday had become the event that had me falling in love with a new stranger monthly.
It had become somewhat of my Central Perk and I know this is the same for every one of my friends that I met there. Everyone in this place was genuine and kind. They had not only welcomed me with open arms, but anyone and everyone that came through here, long term or short term. The gratitude that I have for them is infinite. However, that’s not where I’m going with this story.
It was a bit of a journey to get to the pub from where I lived. There was a train station about five minutes walking distance from my house, but I had never taken the Overground and was terrified of the thought (no idea why). Instead, I would take the tube. My journey consisted of taking a bus to the nearest tube station, which was about 15 minutes away, and then jumping on the tube for about 30 minutes to end up walking 10 more to the pub. Literally endless.
Finally, one night, I had had enough of this million-hour journey home. I lived right next to that train station and Google Maps told me that if I catch the train from Vauxhall station (a 15 minute walk from the pub), I would only have to sit on it for 20 minutes until I was at the Chiswick stop. Genius! I decided to give it a shot. After a fun night at Open Mic Night and a few too many drinks, I said goodbye to my friends and began my journey home.
If you know me, you know that I love my cell phone and I’m always on it. This was probably the reason why my cell phone said it only had 10 percent battery left. But it was fine! I would hop on the train and be home in no time. I found my way to the train station with only a little bit of confusion and hopped on the train going towards Hounslow. Little did I know, there were two different routes. One took you on a giant loop and would take an hour to reach the Chiswick stop and the other took you straight through. Guess which one I got on?
Being the brilliant human that I am, I had no idea. I had my headphones in and was counting each stop, knowing that I had to get off on the 6th one. The doors opened and out I went saying goodbye to the last train of the night. When I looked around, I did not see a Chiswick sign. Nope, I saw a Richmond sign.
Well, great. This was not my stop and I should have realized it sooner. With 5 percent battery left on my phone, I quickly opened Google Maps to find a different way home. The bus! Okay. All I had to do was find bus number 190 and take it for 10 minutes and I would be just down the road from my house. Perfect. I found the bus stop and jumped on, getting a strange look from the bus driver. What is it with these people giving strange looks? Can’t they just tell me what they’re thinking! It would have saved me a breakdown. Anyway, the bus proceeded forward and at the next stop the driver shouts, “This is where the bus terminates. Everyone off!”
Wait, what? This was supposed to take me home! I stepped off and opened Google Maps again and tears immediately took over my eyes. My phone had died. Where hell was I?
I had no idea what to do, so I just started walking. Walking and crying. I probably looked like a crazy person, yet there weren’t very many people around to witness it. I stopped at a few bus stops to read the signs, but I didn’t want to look too lost or confused because I didn’t want to be attacked and taken advantage of (anxiety is a fun thing). There was a nice looking man at one of the stops and I asked what time the last bus ran or if he knew which way Chiswick was. He was definitely not nice. All I got was a scowl and a muttered “I don’t know”. Well thank you, you jerk, neither do I!
So, I walked on. I can’t tell you how long I sauntered on for because I didn’t have a watch and my phone was dead. I knew that if I could find the river I could find my way home, no matter how long it took. The only problem was finding the river. Finally, I ran into this nice looking lady standing on the sidewalk looking just as frazzled as I was. After asking her if she knew directions, she told me she was in the same situation I was in. With one percent of her phone battery left, she had requested an Uber and was praying that it showed up before her phone died. I told her I was about to give up and sleep on the street corner and tried to not let the tears fall, but I couldn’t help it! This was absolute crap.
It just so happens that this lady was not a normal lady on the sidewalk. She was an angel. The angel pulled out her wallet and handed me 20 pounds (I forgot to mention I had no money or credit cards with me). The angel hailed down the next black cab and told him to take me as far as he could with 20 pounds in the direction of my home. Good thing I had already memorized my address or I really would have been screwed. Finally, I was home! Thank you, Jesus, for sending down this angel of a woman who got me home.
I was still crying and walked up to my front door with my keys ready to crawl into bed forever. Sadly, it wasn’t that easy. The parents had bolted the door, meaning there was no way I could get in unless I started knocking. So, I knocked. I knocked for what seemed like hours (it was only about 5 minutes). The dad opened the door with a concerned look on his face. I sputtered out my deepest apologies with tears still spilling out of my eyes. “I decided to take the train tonight,” I told him.
Once I reached my bed and plugged in my phone, I looked at the clock and saw that it was 2:20 in the morning. The train I hopped on left Vauxhall at 11:46. Oops! Thankfully, I have mastered the train system now. Have you heard of those portable charging sticks they have now? Yes, me too. I got one.
Let me know if you have a story about being lost in a new country!