We decided that London and the U.K. would be our next stop. We had already delayed it twice. We were supposed to go there before Paris and then after Paris, but plans changed. We still wanted to go, but as the weeks went by we both realized that it was getting colder up there, and since I hate the cold, well it was now or never. As we started planning, I had a bit of a freak out when I started to understand how expensive the pound is. 1 U.S. dollar is only 0.50 British pounds. So, half of our money was being eaten away the longer we were there and the more we spent. Our Eurail tickets for the trains that we had for the rest of Europe also did not work in the U.K., so we had to approach it all a bit differently. We decided to try to couch surf a couple times and also do a bus tour package for transportation so we could see more of the country up into Wales and Scotland.
Arriving in London was also another of those surreal moments that I keep having in Europe. Riding into the city on the bus from the Stansted airport (which is 1 1/2 – 1 1/4 hours away from the downtown area!), I saw the London Eye and Big Ben poking above the horizon. All around me were the double decker buses, the little red phone boxes and the classic black London cabs. It was just like in the movies.
We basically went straight from the bus station to the underground to find our gracious hosts. Ryan and Natasha, 2 lovely people from Toronto who had been loving in London a few months, had agreed to let us couch surf at their flat for a few days and also had invited us out to a dinner on the town. But, this wasn’t just any dinner, it was a dinner where we ate in total darkness. How cool is that. At Dans Le Noir, we ordered in the lobby while there was still light, but it was only a basic description, like no seafood, or meat only, or strict vegetarian, etc. You still have no idea what they are going to serve to you. That is part of the fun. Our server, Nadine, who was blind, led us, just like on the picture, to our table. She then presented us with the water and wine that we had to figure out how to pour for ourselves in the pitch blackness without getting it everywhere (Poor Ryan lost some of the wine on the table). When dinner was served, I tried multiple times to use my fork, but as I did not have sight to guide me I was never sure if there was anything on the fork and multiple times it ended up in my mouth with nothing on it. In the end I gave up and just used my hands. After dinner you are led out and the servers let you try to guess what you ate. It was a very interesting night. I found myself really feeling for the sight impaired. I found myself straining to see light, or constantly checking to make sure my glass was still there and I wasn’t going to spill. I really appreciated sight. As an aside, the restaurant apparently has cameras everywhere in the eating area to make sure everyone is staying safe and you are instructed not to move or get up without assistance. I wonder if anyone has ever flashed them before they knew they were being watched? I bet they have some stories!