Sunday, January 16, 2011

Right, Left, Center

Thank goodness for housekeeping.  They finally arrived at my do-not-disturb sign and asked for admittance to clean the room.  I was sitting at the desk studying my map and getting up my courage, so I took it as a sign.  I headed downstairs and asked the concierge for his thoughts on a nice early evening walk.

Covent Garden, was the answer.

A short walk out the door (turn right, go straight) and I was walking past a number of retail shops so familiar - Gap, Banana Republic, etc. that I felt no desire to step inside.  I finally broke my 10 pound note at the "chemist's" where I bought a brush to replace the one I left behind at home.

It was doing the usual misty damp rain thing but not enough to chase me back indoors.  I found my way to Covent Gardens where I found artists and shopkeepers finishing up for the day, but plenty of crowds and street performers still on hand.  I didn't take out my own camera, but was pleased to find a google image that EXACTLY captured the scene I stumbled onto with string players taking advantage of wonderful acoustics, and generous tourist crowds to play some incredibly beautiful chamber music for the onlookers.

 I took my time strolling, slowing my New York pace, to glance in windows and consider my dining options.  I must confess I couldn't get myself geared up enough to sit and eat in a restaurant by myself, so I picked up a slice of pizza to eat as I strolled.  Quite unexpectedly it was very satisfying. One slice and a couple mile walk is probably something I should do more at home.

I was tempted by some of the photo/painting exhibits (as always), but since we haven't framed our Italy pieces yet (hint hint hubby) I was hesitant.  The fact that most were packing up for the day also encouraged me to come back later in the week (hopefully).

Deciding I had pushed my lack of direction to the limit, I turned round to find my way back by the few landmarks I had committed to memory.  I walked slowly back toward Leicester Square and my hotel, but when I got there, the evening air was so mild, I decided to walk past and now go left toward Picadilly Circus.

A bit like a miniaturized Times Square area with lots of up lights on buildings and large format screens and advertisements in lights.  I realized I was now down to my last 20 Pound note and some coins (which I have yet to figure out) so I decided to keep my eye open for an ATM.  Typically brightly marked in the states, it seemed the desire to keep these things much less visible and I finally stumbled upon one built into the wall at a low level on the side of a bank building.  Safely away with a few more pounds in my pocket, I turned back around and walked back toward the hotel.  The scent of cinnamon assaulted my senses so I stopped and picked up a mini cinnabon for an evening treat.

By now I felt I had at least accomplished that necessary one foot out the door step of exploring a new city...just enough to whet my appetite for more later this week.  I'm hopeful that Thursday/Friday will provide an opportunity for greater exploration and have found that there is a HOHO bus tour with a stop not too far away from the hotel.  Perhaps I can manage to skip out of the office Thursday afternoon or Friday morning for a highlight tour like we did in Rome.

My little bouts of anxiety for these types of things make me really feel for those with true debilitating anxiety disorders like agoraphobia.  My tendency to be a homebody and to hesitate before social events is so minor in comparison, and yet it could so easily tip the scale to a point where I miss out on little things like an evening walk through London. 

For now, I'm safely back in my hotel room, do-not-disturb light back on, and doing a couple more work tasks, and aiming for a 10PM sleep time to be sure I'm on the local schedule tomorrow. 


Pat said...

Thanks for keeping us informed of your experiences. Yes, getting out in strange places and trying new restaurants is definitely easier with a companion. Before long you'll become quite the world traveler. Enjoy!dican

Pat said...

Oops. It should just say enjoy!

Susan said...

So glad you got out and about and hope you do it again. I loved wandering around in Brussels when I went there on business, I would love to see London, too. I am lucky that I have never had a problem with going out alone although it is fun to share new experiences with a good travel companion.

Chelle said...

I highly recommend the HOHO bus we loved it when in London.
Don't forget to Mind the Gap and look both ways

mrwriteon said...

I love wandering in Covent Garden and you make me want to be back.