So this girl April messages me on Gapyear.com and says “Hello. How are you? I just read a few of your posts so thought I would get in touch. Are you on facebook? I just made a facebook page and have a little group coming together….” This is how it all began!
After joining the group, a plan came together for some of us to meet in London, stay at a hostel and just meetup to chat about our travel plans. Who would of thought it would be such a great weekend….
On the morning of 4th June it was a tad dull and overcast. I headed off earlier to make a day of it. I got to St.Pancras International from Ashford at around 11:30 and had arranged to meet Smera there. This was the first time I had arranged to meet a complete stranger before and it was a mission for both of us. We were on the phone and wandering around for a good 10 minutes looking for each other as we had gone opposite ways. In the end we found each other and it was well worth it! We headed off to Covent Garden and decided to have Pizza Hut as we hadn’t eaten! We hit it off straight away and got on really well! I knew instantly this was going to be a good weekend and definite laugh!
After lunch, it was pretty hot and we met Aaron (I know through a friend and is travelling with Smera) and made our way to where the hostel is at Bayswater/Queensway off of Hyde Park. Most of us were staying at the Smart Hyde Park Inn. I don’t think “Smart” was the right term for the hostel but it was ok. Once we got there I checked in. This was my first time in a proper hostel and a pre-run before the big adventure starts. The bunks were more like sleeper train beds with their own little pulley curtains but they were surprisingly comfortable especially after the night we had!
Once I had sorted myself out, Aaron had mentioned earlier that he could just do with an ice cold pint and I couldn’t agree more, so whilst waiting for the others (April got lost… lol) we found the nearest pub as you do!
About 15:00 I phoned April to the sound of “Where are you?” We are all here!” It was quite amusing and told her we were at the “Bayswater Arms” so she decided we would all meet there. After about 15 minutes this stream of people arrived and it was the rest of the crew! It was really funny meeting random people with everyone going “Hey how are you? I’m so and so. Where and when are you travelling?“. We all start chatting about our plans and date for leaving before heading off down the road to a pub called “The Redan” as some wanted to watch the football. As it turned out we weren’t that interested and were more bothered about finding out about each other.
A few extra people arrived and we then decided to get ready and head in to Covent Garden. After sorting ourselves out at the hostel and managing to get through the underground, we arrived in Covent Garden to the sound of the street entertainer and then proceeded to go to the Porterhouse!
The porterhouse was rammed but had live music on. We all started to get in the spirit and then the photos started! Some nice, some weird and some just plain freaky (as you can see most of the freaky ones include me!). Unfortunately Smera had to go, so said goodbye and then went downstairs to the bottom (the porterhouse has a number of bars where you can be served) and this is where the music was coming from. It was great apart from the guy singing sounded like a cat being strangled, the music was good fun! We all had a laugh and the drinks kept flowing, the photos kept coming and we all got on really well! I then happened to mention to Lucy … “Are we staying here then?” to the very posh and Shakespearian reply of “I surrrpooose soooo”. It was funny but you kinda had to be there!
The porterhouse then had its last orders and we left. The night wa s still young and we all wanted to go to a club but weren’t sure where??!! After walking by Trafalgar Square we decided to go to Leicester Square and have a look at “Yates” or “Zoo Bar” but that was not before we thought it would be a good idea to see how many of us could fit into a phone box! I think it was about 9 or 10 which was pretty good! (Look at the proof). Quite funny to see a load of people in a pile in the middle of London!
Once we got to Leicester Square we were not sure about Yates but then Aaron being the man (Legend!) managed to negotiate £5 entry into Zoo Bar which is amazing for London (lucky if you get into a club below £10 in London).
We got a little separated at first inside Zoo Bar but then on the dancefloor the party started! Pure Dance/Trance music and we were away! All the moves came out and one man deserves a special mention here… Tom Measures dancing moves are incredible and hilarious especially his “Haka“. At one point he nearly had a dance off with another guy! “Everyday I’m Shuffeling!” lol
Well what more can I say! We danced the night away! My feet were killing! About 3:00 AM we left got some food and eventually cabbed it back to the hostel (we lost some of the others but Sam, Dom, Becca, Nicola and myself found our way back after a mission trying to get a cab and some good negotiating skills from Sam) where we all had about 4 hours sleep! Apparently there was a bit of bother from a rather annoyed parent in the 20 dorm room and it sent people into stitches of laughter (I missed out on this) but as Martin so eloquently put it “Let’s be avin’ you!”
In the morning we all had to be out by 10 AM and we were all knackered! Of course the cure for this was greasy food and McDonald’s breakfast or Subway it was (Apart from April who was the only one suffering with a bad hangover surprisingly!). We all then headed to the tube station and said our goodbyes but not before Martin E decided to play a little game of chicken with the train doors which nearly ended in him having his head popped like a melon! Haha!
Saying goodbye was kinda sad in a way as we were not sure if we would see each other again or it would be a long time for some of us. We all got on soooo well and it was like we had known each other for years! A pub near me says “There are no strangers here, only friends that haven’t yet met” and although that sounds a little cheesy, that is how it felt! I have never felt so comfortable with a group of people I didn’t know, then I did with the fantastic SE Asia 2011 gang that met on the 4th June!
However it appears that many of us will be meeting up before we go, thanks to Gapyear.com who are organising a camping trip! Most of us are going to attend so that we can have a reunion and one more laugh before we head off on our adventures!
I am so pleased I went and now I also know who I will be spending Christmas / New Year – with some awesome new friends! Thanks to all who made it such a great weekend and especially April for organising the meetup but most of all for making the group that made this all possible! If I don’t see you before, I look forward to seeing you somewhere in the East! Take care and have a wonderful time!