If you have come here to delight in spectacular views of London, I regret to inform you that you have been misguided. The following tale is not even slightly uplifting, and the grey haze overwhelming the accompanying pictures will not inspire any #wanderlust or retweets.
To those who read this post to its tragic end, I can offer one consolation. Such accomplishment merits a drink, and I have provided a tasty recipe that may just be enough to drag you out of your impending depression. Alas, the London Fog is not an alcoholic beverage, so you will almost immediately be met with further disappointment and woe. You’re probably best skipping this blog post altogether and visiting happier places on the internet such as here or here.
Still reading? This isn’t reverse psychology, I promise. Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The bad beginning
I woke to the swoosh of curtains parting, and a heavy groan. I wiped the crust from my eyes to see my boyfriend, Daniel, gazing gloomily at a wall of fog. This was the day that we had booked tickets for the London Eye Ferris wheel so that Daniel could see the city for the first time. Great.
“In England the mornings are always foggy,” I rationalized. “By the time we get there, the sun will be shining like it has been all week.” This reasoning reassured us. Plus, optimism was warranted since we had spent upwards of 80 euro on this tourist attraction.
The futile journey begins…
We drank our coffee and ate our toast in our AirBnb, looking anxiously out the window hoping for the clouds to disperse. But, on exiting our suite, we entered a persistent mist. Our optimism wavered.
Accustomed to southern Spain’s mild winters, we braved into the cold with scarves wrapped around our necks and our gloves tucked into our jumpers. The wind nipped at our noses, but on we marched, careful not to slip on the black ice that had formed on the cement.
After ten minutes of brisk walking, Daniel shot me a pained glance. I recognized his characteristic look of anguish.
“I have to pee!”
Several times we attempted to slip into pubs and cafés along the way so that Daniel could answer Nature’s Call. Alas, the waiters stopped us each time as if trained to identify freeloading bladder bandits. Our tight budget and timetable did not justify a £4 coffee in exchange for a toilet.
We approached Buckingham Palace through Green Park. Crowds were forming for the changing of the guard due in 30 minutes.
“No puedo más!” (I can’t hold it).
Daniel’s reverting to Spanish revealed the urgency of the situation. We searched desperately around for a coin port-a-potty, but embarrassing relief could only be found behind a few sparsely-planted trees.
“Just wait until we tell everyone back home that you peed in front of the Queen’s residence!” I laughed, as I stood guard to defend Daniel’s decency.
We continued towards the River Thames, fog still clinging to every building. Big Ben appeared to suffocate in its hazy grasp. Crossing Westminster Bridge, we observed the grey nothing along the river and could barely discern the bottom of the giant 135 metre Ferris wheel. Daniel and I exchanged disheartened looks and a synchronized sigh, aware that our views of the London were doomed. Alas, we were too stubborn to skip the attraction and forfeit our non-refundable tickets.
The prisoner’s march
Queuing in fog for the London Eye felt like a slow march towards Azkaban prison. The line was dead silent and collectively gloomy: everyone knew their money was wasted, but we punished ourselves on principle. We trudged past a concession stand – a forced detour designed to snatch yet more money from us. The only colour that lit the scene mocked us – the red logo of Coca Cola, the London Eye’s sponsor.
Next we were ushered in front of a green screen by a London Eye employee. We politely declined for our photo to be taken to mark this historic event, but were abruptly instructed to smile and subsequently handed a receipt for the photo stand. Already in a foul mood on account of the weather, the shamelessness of trying to squeeze a few more quid out of us represented another attack on our pride. At the front of the queue we were herded like sheep into passenger capsules, which at this stage felt more like prison cells. Characteristically, we were advised to “mind the gap”. Ironically, falling through the narrow opening would likely offer more adventure than the foggy half hour that lay ahead.
Serving the sentence in the London Eye
Misery loves company, and that company comprised of about a dozen other dejected detainees being denied of London’s wonders. I’ll admit, I found a glimpse of humour in an overcompensating mother taking selfies with her family, a big overenthusiastic smile plastered on her face. She made a game of guessing what was hidden behind the fog with her daughter, who wasn’t nearly as keen. Only looking back can I really appreciate the irony; at the time I could only feel sorry for myself.
Finally, a robotic voice declared the end of our sentence and instructed us to exit to the left of the pod, where yet another touristic photo was to be taken. Only the chirpy “selfie-mom” rushed over, dragging her family with her to capture the memory, while the rest of us hung back.
I gripped Daniel’s hand when we were released and let the air greet my cheeks. Rolling our eyes as we passed by the gift shop and tourist photos, we resolved to cast aside our negativity and enjoy the rest of our day.
A fraudulent refreshment
Despite warning you to click away, I do feel responsible for putting you through this disastrous travel story. I know that you probably would like something hard, but I cannot advise consuming alcohol to help relieve you of misery (at least without you signing several tedious release forms). Instead, the aptly named “London Fog” latte should bring up your spirits. This drink’s name is a misnomer: it pretends to be all British and fancy, but was actually invented in Vancouver, Canada. It’s a fraud, but it’s a delicious fraud. If you want to veganize this con, use almond or coconut milk. Yummy vegan trickery.
What is your most upsetting #travelfail? Let’s weep together in the comments!