Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lost in London

london201107_cThursday night my company rented a bus, packed it with books, beer, supplies, etc for the Friday SQL in the City event, and then drove about 15 of us down from Cambridge to the center of London. I read and napped a little, and then watched us crawl along the Thames, saw the London Eye, and a few more sights I remembered from my time in London. We turned into the city and passed Trafalgar square, before arriving at the venue and unloading at the Royal Society of London.

Then a few of us went to the hotel to check in, with the others coming over later. It had been a long week, and I was tired, so I made to the hotel, checked in, got my one and a half bed room (yes, one and a half beds with a full and a small twin) and then decided there was nothing on TV, wi-fi only in the bar, and so I should get a drink before dinner.

london201107_bI had a couple beers, people arrived and joined me, and we chatted along before heading to dinner “just around the corner”. I had to settle the bill, since I was the one that opened it, and walked outside to find no one around, crowds around a few pubs, and was unsure of what to do. I also wasn’t sure which corner, so I started to walk around one. Fortunately I ran into the CEO of our company, who had a address of the restaurant. That was my first time lost.

The second time was the next morning. I never sleep well before events if I have to be there early, being paranoid about oversleeping. It’s the same way with flights, ski trips, etc. So I was tossing and turning and around 6:15 just got up. Pulled on shoes, stretched a bit and walked downstairs. I wasn’t sure where I was, but my plan was to find a major street and then go down and back. So I headed down Great Portland Street, which was near the hotel and looked fairly large. However a couple of minutes later that T’d at Oxford Circus.

Hmmm, I thought, I’ve been here, and turned right to go down Oxford Street, which isn’t a major road, but close enough. I passed the Oxford Circus Underground station, which I remember from college. That same old brown, Harry Potter style building next to an alley leading towards a nightclub. I went down, ran about 10 minutes, and then turned around. I ran back, with all the shops of Oxford street a bit of a blur, and then realized I was at Tottenham Court Road. I’d run there last year when I was in London, but I hadn’t started, or passed it.

london201107_aI was slightly lost.

I assume I had missed my turn, but I’d been looking. Since London isn’t a grid system, more like a grid planned, and named, by someone after 10 pints of beer, I turned again, heading back up Oxford Street. I did manage to find Portland Street, and it wasn’t bad, with me only going about 10 minutes longer than I expected. I showered, changed, and managed to find my way over to the Royal Society of Medicine, without getting lost.

I got to give a presentation in the main lecture hall, which was a treat. It’s quite a nice venue, and while I’m sure I am far down the list of important people that have given talks there, it was exciting for me to see the names of some famous medical doctors listed on the wall and think about how many amazing things were said from the stage I was standing on.

Fortunately I stuck with cabs and trains for my trip out of London and didn’t get lost again.

No comments: