TRAVEL | by Virjinia Vassileva
Ever wondered what London was like from the the eyes of a tourist?
Meet Janet who took London by storm!
The lavish decorations around London have turned the city into a beautiful winter fairy tale, full of memorable experiences and amazing moments. For some people however, walking around the streets of London was a real adventure!
Janet, a Bulgarian lady, adores travel and exploring new destinations and secret places. But more than anything, she loves talking to people. When lost, she never looks at her map, but rather goes and asks someone for directions. Sounds wonderful right? Well heres the problem - she doesn’t speak a word of English! That did not stop her from enjoying herself, in fact, it made her short stay in the city even more entertaining!
The second she landed at Luton airport, Janet was eager to explore. Taking pictures of everything, asking hundreds of questions, walking as if a bear was chasing her, she wanted to see it all. With widely opened eyes, she was imbibing every single detail of all buildings and decorations. She did not want to miss a single thing. However, she had to actually leave the airport and reach London.
With changes in the train schedule, she found herself comparing names letter by letter, and showing the address on her phone, hoping to find on the right train. Imagine her face, however, when it terminated at another station and she had to figure out how to use the tube! With arrows being her best (and only) friend, luckily she took the correct line and arrived at the right station, just to find herself alone once again. Her daughter turned out to be quite irresponsible and was not able to pick her up from the station…oops.
Once they finally saw each other, Janet was ready to explore the beauty of London. She visited quite a lot of Christmas markets and was astonished by the amazing Christmas decorations. While looking at the beautiful glittering angels above Regent Street, she did not even realise she was on the road. Cars were beeping but she was not bothered at all. Her only goal was taking that perfect shot, even if that meant nearly getting run over.
From Elephant and Castle to Notting Hill, to Hyde Park and back, she was constantly walking, getting lost in between the beautiful houses. She did end up in some gloomy areas but used her ‘sign language’ and was able to perfectly navigate herself. Even her uncomfortable shoes and the wounds on her feet were not able to stop her from enjoying the beautiful views.
Barely walking because of the pain, she she reached Winter Wonderland - because taking the bus was too basic! Although she did not go on any of the rollercoasters, she met with lovely people with whom she tried having conversations. Putting together non-suitable words, creating completely new phrases, she confidently talked with different people. She even found a Turkish seller:
“I, neighbours” - meaning that Bulgaria and Turkey share a border.
Filled with excitement, she went to the Ice Rink at Somerset House a bit after midnight, kindly asking the guards to let her take a photo. The guard was not happy at first, but after seeing her almost watery eyes, he did not have a choice but to let her in.
While practicing the language with guards might be enough for some people, this was definitely not the case here. On her final day in London, Janet was more than happy to burst into very thought-provoking conversations with the waiters in the cozy Hotel Café Royal. Although she did not understand a word, she was confidently nodding at the waiter’s explanations, and was more than happy to share with me her translations. Amazingly, she almost got a few things right! But she did even a better job with the interpretation of a musical at Imperial College. When listening to her, you would never guess she was explaining the plot of Hamilton or Hercules. Maybe the writers might find some inspiration in her original ideas and change a thing or two in their works!
As London patiently waits for her return, she is not so patient for her next journey to the busy capital.