London: Wednesday

I’ve made a real mess of my front page, but it’s hard to keep things in order when your life is utterly chaotic. This living on the road deal has been interesting, and surprising, and all manner of new things, but it makes for keeping things in order difficult!

And that’s all my complaining for the day, because it’s time to talk about London.

London is wonderful. I love it here and I want to stay.

People are nice, the city is full of beauty and history, the weather is very agreeable (so far) and they speak my language. There’s a ton of things to do, and I’ve not even really scratched the surface. Just the posters pasted in the Underground of all the live shows coming up are enough to make me want to burn my passport and move in.

Enough gushing.

The first thing I did was head to The Undeground and figure out where I was going to go. I noticed a tourist booth so I went there and booked a new hotel for my last two days. 2 stars, right down the street from Paddington Station and GB 50 a night. Not bad.

I started by picking a random place on the map and going there. Hyde Park sounded cool, and Speakers Corner sounded interesting, so I headed that way on the Underground (hereafter, The U) and got there easily. When I arrived I wandered around in cirlces for a bit and noticed a sign that said Buckingham Palace. That sounded pretty good so I started walking and before long I was watching the royal guards prancing around like idiots. Idiots with submachine guns, but idiots none the less. I’m sorry, but they really look quite silly. I took a video for you but it’s huge… actually, this net access is fast. Lemme see if I can send it up.

Please wait.

Hermm… 15 minutes to upload. Okay, we’ll give it a try. I need to recompress the video cause it’s 70MB but this’ll do for now.

Anyway, I saw the guards and their silly dance, and I wandered around Buckingham Palace, which was cool. Eventually I made it back to where I had started and noticed a red open top bus for touring standing there and thought I’d check it out. For GB 20 I could take a hop on hop off 2 hour+ tour and get a free boat ride out of the deal. Sounded better than walking. I hopped on the bus and it turned out to be really fun. The tour guide was very funny, and had a ton of really good information. I saw a lot of the major sights in London, such as Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, The London Eye, Tower Bridge, London Bridge, The London Tower, Buckingham Palace (again), The Marble Arch and a million other things.

One of the things that was really interesting was how much daily, but famous, life goes on. The guide was constantly doing things like pointing out “There’s where Chris Martin and Gwenneth Paltrow live, in house 47, and there’s where Madonna lives” and so on. I saw the hotel where Jimmy Hendrix died, and where Michael Jackson stays in London and a ton of other interesting things. Very cool tour. It was “The Original Tour” if you are ever in the area and looking for one.

Towards the end of the tour you had the option to buy a GB 3 pass to eat a meal in one of three restaurants instead of paying the normal fare. They pointed out The Sherlock Holmes Pub where you could have fish and chips and I decided to hop off and check it out. It sounded like a complete tourist trap, but hell, I was hungry.

The pub was a tourist trap. It was full of Japanese tourists. Let me tell you about Japanese tourists. All the stereotypes are true. In every city I’ve been in they just crack me up. They don’t even seem to look at what they are seeing, they just want to take pictures of each other in front of it. They scamper around snapping pictures at like 20 per second.

Anway, I went up the bar and noticed immediately like 10 beer pumps. A beer pump is what you use to get beer out of a cask in the celler, instead of a tap and faucet that takes beer out of a keg driven by CO2. I love cask beer and immediately ordered some, and it was great. Warm, flat and full of taste. Very nice for my first beer in London. I asked the bartender if I could get my official fish and chips at the bar and he hooked me up. I chatted with him for quite a while about beer, and eventually asked if the pub was made purely for eating tourists money. He said they do get a lot of tourists because of the bus tour but that they have quite a few locals, especially during the week. I felt a little better about the whole thing.

I had one more pint and headed out. I wanted to go down to the river and see some things there so I headed that way. I crossed a footbridge over the Thames and decided to ride The London Eye.

A note on The Thames. It’s filthy. If you stand on the bridge and watch it flow past it is just full of trash. The trash just keeping coming and coming. I’ve got to think that The Thames is what Terry Pratchett modeled his description of The Ankh after.

Anyway, I went over to The Eye and rode that. Nice ride. Quiet, and nice view. The curved glass makes it hard to take good photos but I did get a really awesome surrealist photo of The Houses of Parliament which I am proud of.

After The Eye I went over to The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. I didn’t really feel up to touring them so I just snapped some pics and walked past heading towards Trafalgar Square.

Trafalgar Square is pretty interesting. Lots of people relaxing, making out, chasing pidgeons. The pidgeons are great. They are so used to people that you basically have to push them out of the way. I saw a kid actually pick one up off the ground and walk about with it for a minute. He’s probably dead of disease now. Aparently it’s okay to feed them, which is why there are so many, but if you feed them in the main part of the square you’ll get fined. They want to get rid of them and have aparently hired a guy with a hawk to chase them off now and then.

After that I had had enough sightseeing for the day and headed back to my room. I had intended to maybe go back out later that night and find a pub but I laid down for a bit and was out like a light. I slept until about 9am this morning and woke up feeling much refreshed. I checked out of Shithole Hostle and walked over to my new hotel. I couldn’t check in until 11:30am so I did a little more sightseeing while I waited… but that’s tomorrow’s story.

Pictures from London are up. There’s a few good ones in there. Honestly, I’m a bit sick of sightseeing, but I feel like I owe it to myself. I kind of want to just hang out until I go home.

My new hotel has absolutely no Internet access so I’ve finally been forced to use an Internet cafe. It’s pretty nice. I have a little cubby in the basement and they are playing a really good downtempo mix. Unfortunately it’s only open till 10pm so I’ll be logging off early the next two nights.

Talk to you tonight.

Oh, here’s the movie of the guards. It’s huge, but it’s pretty cool.