The Untold Story of My First Night in London

There’s a reason why I’ve decided to tell this story now. So buckle up. So on January 3rd, after countless hours traveling from little old Hometown, NJ, I finally made it to London. I am all moved in to my new flat and did some exploring around my new city. I had been awake for over 24 hours when I decided to get some dinner with a friend that I knew from Philly who is also staying in London. We went to the pub right near our new flat and had a pint and dinner. I was stoked. It was my first legal alcohol, disregarding the complimentary bottle of wine on the plane.

Any way, when we were finished dinner, I decided to go meet one of my friends (we’re going to call her “R”) from back home who was staying in a hotel downtown for a few days while she had a layover. We were going to catch up and maybe grab a few drinks.

Keep in mind, it’s about 8.30 PM, I haven’t slept yet since landing in London, and I had just spent the day going from store to store collecting groceries, housewares and bedding. I was absolutely zombified. But I rallied. My first assumption was hey, you know what? I live here now, I should learn the how to “tube.”

Okay, bad choice. I purchased a ticket, which hello, rip off, but I didn’t know that at the time. It was a wreck. I got off at the wrong stop and at this point, it being Day 1, I had no data plan on my phone to even figure out where I was.

Next resort, I call R, and tell her where I sort of think I am, but because London doesn’t have stand alone street signs, I had no idea that I was supposed to be looking at the sides of buildings to see road names, I was straight off the plane with no sense of anything. So, R navigates to me over the phone and 45 minutes and about a $60 phone bill later, I made it to her hotel.

We catch up for a while and decided that, you know what, it’s my first night and R’s last night, let’s make it a good one. We decided to concoct a homemade pub crawl. There were some rules attached and then we added rules as the night went on, which I’ll get to. But, from the get go, this was the Rule List:

1. We must finish one beer at each bar.

2. We must go to an even number of bars so that we can take turns buying a round.

And basically, that’s it. Pretty simple. So we head out of her hotel, which I now know is in a premium location to one of the best places in London, Borough Market.

We stop in at this cool little joint. There was hardly anyone in there, except for what looked like a dad and his grown up daughter (soz if that was your wife dude, she was way too young for you) and a group of guys playing darts. It was low key and we got our first pint of the evening (I’m not counting the one I had at dinner, because, I’m just not). We were amazed by the accents of the cutie British boys that were playing darts and we kept surreptitiously checking them out. The Brit charm hadn’t work off yet (who am I kidding, it still hasn’t).

We finished our drinks after about 15-20 minutes, then headed more into the Borough Market. This is where we added a new rule.

Rule # 3: Only go in a place if it looks like there are attractive men inside.

So, pub two, a place called the Globe, coincidentally also the place where the outside shots of Bridget Jones’s flat are taken in the movie. Great, sign me up. We get in, this place is a lot more crowded. We finish our beers quickly and are starting to get our buzz on.

On the way out, we decide that now is the best time to start meeting people, thus, rule number four was born.

Rule # 4: Ask for a recommendation for a new bar to try at every location.

So, on our way out of the Globe, we saw a cute guy and asked where we should go next. He sent us around the corner to a place called The Wheatsheaf. On the way, R and I met a homeless man from Ireland. He was super chill, but I couldn’t understand a single thing he said because his accent was so think and my ears still weren’t accustomed to accents, so I just nodded and smiled a lot.

We get to the Wheatsheaf. This bar was packed, it was alright I guess, but I have been to way better one’s. The bartender was hot though, so I ain’t complaining. This is where we found out that most pubs close at midnight in London. Which was a total bummer, because it was already about 11. There wasn’t really anywhere to sit, so, we chugged our pints and headed to the next location, recommended by the bartender. I can’t remember the name of the place, but it was very close. Everything is in walking distance which is great.

So, we are walking to the fourth place and starting to feel those first three pints. Along the way, we see a guy in an old costume, like, he was wearing knee socks and knickerbockers with a chaps hat in front of a bar just before the one we were about to check out. I said to R, “we definitely aren’t going in there!” and the both of us started cracking up.

We got to pub 4, at this point, I was just rolling with the tide. There were more cuties playing darts and this place wasn’t too crowded. It’s just a little after 11. We go up to the bar and I ask the bartender for “the most English thing you have!” We got two London Prides and grabbed a seat. We took it easy in here, because like I may have mentioned before, I am going on about 36 hours without sleep and I am already four beers up (I counted the one from dinner) and mind you, prior to this very day, I basically never drank beer. I also hadn’t had a proper drink in weeks, so my tolerance level was pretty low. I was definitely feeling great at this point.

But, feeling like I probably can’t stay awake much longer, R and I are about to call it quits. We finish our drinks and head outside, back toward pub #3.

Fate is funny sometimes. It has a way of leading us to what we never knew we needed.

Fate that night led us past a bar on our trek back that was playing one of my all time favorite songs.

Just when we were about to give up for the night, the crisp notes of “Teenage Dirtbag” by Wheatus blast through the open doors of what ended up being the best bar of the night. I stopped and R stopped and we were like, you know what, let’s do it.

We went in, and the place was jam packed. There was a live band jamming to Wheatus, they had some brass and a banjo and it was seriously so amazing. We got up to the bar and ordered yet another drink, it came in a stein that was about the size of my head. We had our drinks, the music was blaring, the only thing we needed now was a place to sit.

We looked around for a while and there was absolutely nothing. Now, this is where fate steps in again. We wander into another room of the bar and guess who is sitting at a table with four of his mates?

If you guessed the guy in the costume from earlier, YOU ARE A WINNER.

The guy in the costume is just perched at the table. And this is also where beer took the lead, I decided to make fun of his costume and (I believe upon hearing our accents) his friends invited us to sit with them. Turns out, it was a stag night or bachelor party as we are more used to calling them.

R and I had just been invited to crash a bachelor party.

So, we sit and start laughing and joking around with these guys. Turns out they are all such sweethearts. There’s costume man also known as John the Stag (Groom to be), Andy, the cutie hipster guy, Ed the 22, he’s 22, hence the nickname (who we later came to find out that all of the guys think he’s gay), Tom the married, he’s a lawyer and also a genuinely very nice guy, and Dom who prefers Dominic, but I called him Dom because it rhymed with Tom and was easy to remember.

R and I could’t have been any luckier to have met such nice guys really. They were hilarious and although, pretty drunk, totally sweet. We stayed with them all the way up to when the bar closed, around 12:30, and we all got kicked out.

We were saying goodbyes, when Dom asked us to try to convince John to go to a strip club. John was dead set against it, he didn’t want his fiancé to get upset (which, awe, four for you John the Stag, you go John the Stag). But, R and may have done a little convincing and told him that she would understand, blah blah blah, because honestly, if I don’t get strippers at my bachelorette party, it better be because I am passed out in a closet or something.

But, we did our good deed and got John to go along.

His one request was that we come with them.

So, that’s how R and I found ourselves in the middle of London at a strip club with a bachelor party at 2 AM on my first night in town.

The story goes on, but I’ll save that for another day.

But, back to how this post started. I promised that there was a reason that I was saving this post for now. It’s because as you read this, I am on my way to Rome for my Spring Break, to visit R where she was heading after her layover in London. We’re going to try to see what my first night in Rome will bring us.

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