Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Journey To England Part II

For part one, go here

So hooray! It was time to take the bus from the airport into London! The Greater London area was huge. I remember being told "We're just outside London right now", and 45 minutes later still being just outside London. We drove past some distinctly English town names like "Hackbridge" and..that's actually the only one I can remember. After getting off the bus and walking to the hostel I realized just how stupid I was for not springing for a backpack with a frame. 

God Dammit.

Oh well, live and learn. We checked into the Royal Bayswater Hotel and Hostel, got our daily tube passes, and ran around the city exploring. We started by going to gift shops to get some trinkets for people back home. Might as well get that out of the way right? These gift shops are the same in every city. Cheap crap and novelties. Each one of course has it's own distinct decor so London was full of keychains/shot glasses/magnets/paperweights/mugs and clothing decorated with the big red phone booths/UK flags/Big Ben etc. So basically, a shop full of stuff people from London don't buy, sold by people not from London, for people also not from London. And yet, this somehow authenticates the London experience? I don't get it either! But haha! Those red phone booths! 


After a long day we relaxed in Hyde Park with all kinds of beer, by which of course I mean one kind, but a lot of it. You're allowed to drink beer in public I guess! Still not clear on that really. Nobody will make a fuss if you're discreet seemed to be the feeling on that. After getting a decent buzz and seeing about fifty thousand dogs, it was back to the hostel.

We schmoozed with people in the common area, played some cards, and had some tea. When we eventually headed back upstairs we were curious to see if anyone else had joined our room, since there were still some open beds. Nope, still empty. This was ok, because although it's cool to chat with people staying in your room, sharing your reasons for being there, telling stories and what not, your chances are equally good of meeting someone really weird. 

"I shall tell you about my travels!"

At one point Mike left the room for some reason. I was hanging out listening to some music and I drifted off briefly. I awoke to a door closing, and I assumed it was Mike coming back. Wrong. Someone had decided to join us after all, at about one in the morning. He was middle-aged, and Middle-Eastern. He didn't speak very good English, so not much chatting. After a brief and awkward introduction he was ready to go right to sleep. And what did he choose to sleep in? Not fucking much. He had no qualms about stripping down to a pair of unnecessarily small briefs in front of my disapproving gaze. And holy shit was this guy hairy. In a dimly lit room he could probably take off his shirt and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. I wanted to throw tennis balls at his back and see if they'd stick. Mike returned, we exchanged regretful looks, and went to bed. The next morning the guy was gone without a trace. Neither of us heard a thing.

We checked out of the hostel, with plans to take a bus to Nottingham later that day, and meet up with an older couple Mike had met previously. But first, we had several hours to kill, so time for more sightseeing! We attended the changing of the guard, for no other reason than to say we had, saw Westminster Abbey and Big Ben, the Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, and went to a couple museums. 

Rosetta Stone! Holy Shit!

Chinese artifacts! I don't fucking believe it!

This thing!

Amazing stuff. How did I feel after seeing all these sights and ancient artifacts? TIRED. In between stops, I was still carrying around those bags that weighed about one Rosetta Stone each. 

God Dammit.
The thought of carrying these around for another month was daunting, but I thought that maybe at the end of the trip I would look like this:

Minus the goatee of course.
So I trudged on, trying to look on the bright side, which was difficult because I don't think it was sunny for a single second of my stay in London. 

We hopped on the bus to Nottingham that evening, ready for phase two of our journey: Immersion into the lives of regular folk. I was curious to talk with this couple I was about to be introduced to, and to find out if the differences between cultures were trivial like I suspected, or profound!

Until next time.

No comments:

Post a Comment