Journal

UK Border Crossing

I woke at noon the day I left for London. I had managed two months in Milan without the crutch of Starbucks and was very much looking forward to a venti whip americano. I soldiered through the Alitalia terminal course toward customs, where my enthusiasm for all things English all but died as I was queued for the UK border line...line. Gone was the chaotic chatter and hand-waving of the pasta paese, aperitivo was a world away. Forty-five minutes of mindless foot shuffling later, I stood face to face with passport control UK.

Why are you in london? My employer sent me here. Do you have a work visa? No. What will you be doing here? Shadowing, training. That is work. Tell me exactly what you will be doing here. I don't know exactly.. Right. Come with me.

I don't exactly have a way with words, and first impressions are not my forte. As such, I am no stranger to customs and passport interrogations. And so, adventures in border crossing take three. Exiled to a front row of unoccupied chairs, I rolled out my suitcase and propped up my chucks - half expecting to be seated on a states-bound plane within the next 24 hours. The passport officer disappeared for just 20 minutes, then re-emerged to tell me I was clear, stamped my book and practically pushed me through. Right. The airport was pretty much deserted, and I managed to figure out the timetable for Heathrow Express and headed for Paddington station before midnight.

I woke up the next morning in Piccadilly, shuffled into clothes from the day before and stumbled onto Half Moon Ave into a blinding urban haze. It was just eight in the morning, but the 4:45am sunrise had already cooked the city to a warm 85. A co-worker and I made a quick stop at Boots, then settled into a Starbucks near Buckingham for a long anticipated cafe americano. After two months in a country unacquainted with my favorite coffee stop, it was like sipping christmas from a cup. We meandered the streets until we had sufficiently stolen snapshots of Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace and other tourist stuff; then hi-jacked a few towels from the service closet and camped out in Green Park.

Home was the Green Park Hilton, and the place of employment was a renovated bank on Savile Row. Tuesday and Thursday evenings were reserved for Italian lessons in the Soho district on the west end of London. Home was London. Home for the next 30 days.