When I was studying in Harlow I would sometimes go into London by myself. After a few days I realized that the “Big Bad City” was indeed big but it wasn’t so bad. I also fell in love with the Subway. Coming from a town of 5,000 (where the nearest big city has 30,000 people), I had no idea that public transit could be so easy.
I learned the Tube system good. You might say that I made it my b*tch. So, feeling secure in my ability to maneuver around London, I decided to give myself a challenge. I wanted to deliberately get lost.
I picked a random direction and started walking. I went through Chinatown, which was setting up for the Chinese New Year, and along other streets I had never traveled before. I found a DVD store which had recordings of ballets (but I couldn’t buy any because of the region), and a really nice stationary store.
When I got tired of wandering around I simply looked for a subway station. I found a road that was larger than most, and looked like a “main” road, and within 2 blocks I found a subway station. It was Holborn Station, which was connected to the Central and Picadilly Lines. I was lost no more!
Did I mention that I love the subway in London?
I frequently wandered around London, looking for interesting things. During a wander from Covent Garden, one such thing I found was an amazing comic book store. They had so many awesome things, including a set of sai, swords, and a second floor devoted to comics, novels and graphic novels.
The thing was, I didn’t remember the name of the store or the actual location. I just had vague memories of where it was.
So in 2011 it was my mission to find this store again. I probably could have looked it up online, but that was too easy, my friends. I wanted a challenge!
I stood outside Covent Garden Tube and headed in the opposite direction from Covent Garden. I walked down a street filled with retail stores, until I found an area that was like a wagon wheel (a central circle with streets that went out in all directions). This was familiar.
The only question was which way to go now?
I picked a seemingly random street and walked some more. This led to a busy area, which was actually 2 streets with a small slip of land in between. I couldn’t see across the street because of a building on that slip of land, but something inside told me to cross the street, so I did.
Lo and behold, on the other side of the building was a comic book store! The large windows were filled with all kinds of geeky goodness, telling me that this was the right place. I walked inside and it was just as I had remembered it (although the sai were not there anymore).
Not only had I found the store (Forbidden Planet), but I was finally going to remember the name of it and the location.
So go ahead and wander. If you’re in a new city, wander around and find things that you didn’t know were there. I mean, be smart about it – don’t wander down deserted alleys late at night – but take a chance and discover something new. Who knows what you’ll find.