How we ended up in a gay bar in London

Last week on Tuesday evening we flew out of Budapest and arrived in London for an evening.  (We had saved up "miles" on our credit card mileage plan and so were able to get nearly-free tickets, but part of the deal was that we had to spend one night in London.)

Since we arrived around 9pm we only had time to make it to our hotel--no chance to see anything interesting in the city.  At the airport, we asked how much the taxi would be to go directly to our hotel:  20 pounds or 40 bucks!  Anything cheaper?  Yes--the guy at the info desk said if we took "the tube" (metro) for a couple stops and then hailed a taxi, we could cut our costs.

So we took the tube, went outside with our two small black suitcases and laptop bags and discovered we were in the London ghetto.  We waited outside on the street where taxis would hopefully appear, but no luck.  We then asked for directions from inside a little "quickie mart" to see if maybe our hotel was close by and we could walk there.  The store owner (whose English was not great) told us we'd only have to walk for 5-10 minutes down this street and we'd be there...

After walking 10 minutes in this sketchy area and still not finding any hotel--and feeling like we were walking advertisements saying "mug us please"--we knew we had to get inside some place and see if someone could call us a cab.  Across the street we saw a little place called "The Windsor Castle" that was some kind of victorian house that was apparently converted into a bar.  We walked in and everyone started staring at us (it turns out it was kind of weird for a man and woman to come in together to this place).  And Ivy spotted some kissing that confirmed we were in a gay bar.

After the initial silence--which seemed like a very long time but probably wasn't--everyone was extremely nice and welcoming.  The bartender called us a cab (after I agreed to dance with him--haha) and then he told us to go out the back, through a very sketchy, dark alley with a bunch of people hanging out in the dark.  The "cab" that showed up was a beat up car with one headlight out and no lit-up cab sign.  We were both skeptical of getting in but the driver--a nice young Indian guy--explained that cabs in this part of London don't have lit-up signs, but only stickers on the windshield...

So we got in and made it to our hotel.

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ImpactErick Widmanlondon, travel