“In London everyone is different, and that means anyone can fit in.”
The first stop on any literary tour of London should be the bronze statue of the famous children’s book hero, the traveling Paddington Bear. Mostly because upon arrival at Heathrow airport the quickest way into the city is via the Heathrow express, which whisks you directly to Paddington station. While there you might as well visit the statue.
I spent the last couple hours of our delightful British Airways flight happily watching the live action Paddington Bear movie, while sipping piping hot English Breakfast Tea poured already-brewed from a pot a steward carried down the aisle! (I think more airlines should provide this service!) This mug of wonderfully smelling caffeine had me wide awake upon arrival in London, despite the early 6 something in the AM hour, so I was ready to begin touring!
Unfortunately you first have to take care of a few small matters, like waiting (for what felt like an eternity) in the customs line. Once they let you into the country and you’re reunited with your checked bags, find an ATM where you can collect your first British pounds. Then you can procure Heathrow Express tickets and Oyster cards for the Underground from a desk near baggage collection. Finally we were on our way to Paddington Station! Despite my lack of sleep, adrenaline was running high, so the first order of business was not to find the tube that would take us to our AirBnb, but instead to find the famous Paddington Bear statue.
The statue is a little tricky to find. Standing on the train platform, I looked around in the hopes that the statue would be obvious. Unfortunately this was not the case. My next thought was that surely there would be a Paddington Bear gift shop near the statue so I made my way towards the station shops. Sure enough, at the top of a short escalator, I spotted a small shop entirely devoted to Paddington Bear. Pulling my bag behind me, I headed in that direction and outside the shop was…a colorful statue of the famous bear. I stopped in confusion, pretty sure that the famous statue was a colorless bronze.
After inquiring from the girl at the shop register, we learned that the original statue was next to train Platform 1. I bought a postcard, thanked the girl, and went back down the escalator to the train platforms. There was Paddington in bronze, sitting on his suitcase with his tag which reads, “Please look after this bear thank you” and a big floppy hat.
Bucket list item one – Done.