Alice and I arrived safely last night...at 3:30 in the morning. Our flight was delayed by an hour (which was kind of funny, since I'd never flown with Ryan Air before, and their sign at the airport said "The On Time Airline" (Their literature, however, read "The Low Price Airline". I Thought that was a rather convenient save, on their part). We met two lovely girls in the airport, also studying in Florence and staying just on the other side of of the Kensington Gardens from us. We hung out in the airport, caught a bus together, and then tried to navigate our way to our hostels. Since we had to go different directions, however, they managed to catch a direct bus while Alice and I caught a cab (only about £13, which isn't bad since our last cab in London was £40).
It was an uncomfortable night because we basically just dumped our stuff and then climbed into bed. I laid on top of my blanket, just covered up with my sheets. I didn't have a pillow so I used my coat and my backpack.
I have to say that I prefer the Smart hostel in Edinburgh. This place nickle and dimes you for just about everything. You have to buy a towel (the other place provided us with fresh every morning); The rooms aren't as neat and all of the public areas are bright red with black trim, which, while interesting, makes it kind of hard to relax. On the bright side, the beds themselves are comfortable. Now if only the bathrooms were large enough to actually move in. I will say though, that when I told the girl at the front desk that I didn't have a pillow, she gave me the pillow and a half hour of free internet to make up for it.
On brighter news, Alice and I walked through Kensington Gardens this morning, after brunch of eggs with toast and mushrooms and milk tea at a local cafe. It was so nice to see trees and grass and more animals than just pigeons after being stuck in stone cold Florence. As the age of the Florentines increases, and their birthrate continues to fall, you really get the impression that the city is dying. Being in London is like getting a breath of fresh air. There are kids and dogs and birds and squirrels, and I love it. The leaves are changing and everything is beautiful.
After the gardens we went down to the V&A--The Victoria and Albert Museum. Since we got in so late, we didn't go through much, just bits and pieces of the first floor. But it is probably one of my favorite museums now. They have so many textiles, and I scoured their bookstores for books to help with my thesis (the topic of which has yet to be decided, other than the fact that it will involve textiles). If I'd bought every one I wanted, I would have spent close to £300, so I settled for a single text that examines garments from all points of history from all over the world, since I'm pretty sure that I'll being working with garments of some kind.
We figured out the underground for the ride back. It was a little bit of a hassle in the station since it was so crowded and busy, but it was a quick ride. I think we're going to take a break here at the hostel before heading out again. There's plenty to see, and we are in no hurry.