Getting Lost in London

Who would win: a directionally-challenged girl with no data plan, a fraught history with maps, and a shaky understanding of the concept of “north,” or the entire city of London?  For those keeping score at home, the answer is London. To be fair, London’s mean streets and I do not have a relationship of pure antagonism: I’ve been saved quite a few times by handy little street maps (ah, the existential reassurance of a “you are here”) and signs pointing toward popular tourist attractions. And yet, just as she’s lead me to the brink of discovering that coffee shop I’ve been trying to find for the last 40 minutes, the cruel mistress that is London foils me again. Blast! I’m happy to report I’ve become slightly more geographically-savvy since arriving at Heathrow, and as such I’d like to present to those in similar predicaments some foolproof steps for Finding Your Way. (To the museum or pub, that is. I cannot promise to offer any advice in finding your way to personal fulfillment).

  1. Find a local coffee shop with Wi-Fi. (And by “local coffee shop” I mean a Starbucks). Plug your destination into Google maps, and then screenshot the directions. By Jove, you’ve got it now!
  2. Begin to follow your screenshotted directions. Oh shit, which way’s northwest again? Just pick a random direction and cross your fingers.
  3. Become convinced that, even though you haven’t reached Wardour St. and the directions say to turn at Wardour St., it’s been way too long so you should just turn at the next random street.
  4. Realize your directions are useless as bloody rubbish at this point and have a small cry.
  5. Find the nearest street map and locate yourself. Locate the street your destination is on. Okay, okay, things are looking up.
  6. With newfound purpose, set out in the direction you’re between 58 and 73 percent sure is correct.
  7. Get distracted by a stationary store/pub claiming King Charles I and II as patrons/statue of a war hero.
  8. Back at it. Walk about five steps before realizing you are lost again.
  9. Remind God you literally just when to St. Paul’s Cathedral.
  10. Okay, if walking fails, to the Tube! Follow signs to the nearest Tube station. Realize you have no idea what stop you need to get off at and no money left on your Oyster card. Defeatedly ride the escalator back to the street.
  11. Consider collapsing on the nearest bench and never leaving.
  12. In a flash, remember that one thing that one girl in your hostel said about the direction of that one neighborhood that could possibly hold the key.
  13. Go forth! At this point you’re too dehydrated to care much that you’re stumbling around blindly.
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Mia Karr

Mia is packing up her set of all seven Harry Potter books and the collected James Joyce before heading off to the U.K., and then getting realistic and replacing them with a flashlight and extra underwear. She plans to find out exactly how much beer is in a pint while gallivanting around Ireland and aspires to show her parents that she is putting her (forthcoming) English degree to use by communing with Shakespeare’s homeland. When she’s not making plans to get the royal family to adopt her, she enjoys drinking coffee and talking about the severity of her coffee addiction.