Chicago to London was the shortest international flight I've ever taken. I'm used to the crazy 16-24hrs of flying into Asia.
But as much as the U.S. is moving to apps & no paper, Europe still has trees and they wanted to see one from me, which left me in an uncomfortable position of trying to get an email out to the customs agent to prove that I wasn't trying to stay for employment reasons. Any other reason would just be nuts.
Don't ever exchange currency at the airport, wait until you get to your hotel, settle in and find an inside ATM in the bank and withdraw, it's the cheapest way.
You can still hop on the London Underground by picking up an Oyster card at the train station using your credit card, assuming you have no foreign transaction fees.
The underground was really easy for me, clear station signs but make sure you know how to get to your hotel/hostel before you get on. Only the Piccadilly line goes to Heathrow. And yes the line's final station is Cockfosters. But the train announcer made it sound very respectable. Some train stations have multiple levels of platforms and some of the escalators are so steep, you can get vertigo.
I crossed the street a few times and only almost got hit just twice. Don't be cool and try to jaywalk, I can see it end badly. Especially when at the crosswalk the Brits kindly painted in BOLD white lettering, which way to look. I'm sorry for those who don't use the same alphabet nor read English.
To an American, coins are a mystery, I just hold out my handful of hands and show them to the cashier.
When Brits say you're on the second floor, it usually means 4 flights of stairs and oddly enough the stairs are very steep. This is just from the 2nd floor!
I did get mistaken for a shop girl at Sainsbury market, an older gentlemen just walked up to me as I was reaching for a banana.
"How are the bananas today?"
"I'll find out soon enough."
"Good eh? Well pick me out two big ones, I need one for today and tomorrow."
So I got him bananas, he thanked me graciously and I felt I had done some civil service.
I had a few questions, on the tube you have to scan your card to get into the station platforms to get on your train and then when you exit you have to scan it again. I'm assuming I'm not getting charged twice yes?
Also, I noticed several smartly dressed women wearing the most lovely but ginormous wide brimmed hat that covers most of their face. I'm assuming the celebrities of England don't go by tube hiding in plain sight, so is it just a fashion trend or are they hiding from the ubiquitous CCTV?
I've been awake now for over 24hrs and I guess there's a part of me that still can't sleep because any moment now, I might run into Doctor Who. Although when I took this photo just outside Earls Court Station, I did get a pretty young blonde come up and ask for some money. I should have looked for Bad Wolf posters, was that you Rose?
The underground does not run 24/7 unlike the U.S. So my 640a flight will require me to spend £40(~U$D 75) for a taxi to Heathrow, which sadly is why I can only stay in London 4 days.