Published: March 21st 2012March 20th 2012
I finally made it to one of the world’s top visited cities, London, England. Well this blog is actually for two visits I had to London. I first stopped for only a few days to celebrate my 30th birthday with Nicci before I continued on to see a little more of Europe. I then returned to London for a few weeks and celebrated Nicci’s birthday and to see the sites. This blog title comes from the greeting many Brits use and despite the fact we technically speak the same language, I never could understand them. Instead of saying “Hey” they greet by asking, “Are you alright?” The problem is they say it so fast I kept thinking they just walk up to people and say “Alright.” Nicci had to explain it to me and I even tried to say it to someone and they just laughed. I really need to work on my British accent.
So lets start with the good stuff, the birthdays. First mine. I was woken up by Nicci surprising me with balloons, gifts, tea and breakfast in bed. She had to work that day so it allowed me to go back to bed for
a little. I finally made it into London and started by walking to my meeting with the Queen at her home, Buckingham Palace. Well she had to cancel at the last minute but I did just walk around the city for awhile. I was surprised that Buckingham Palace isn’t bigger compared to many other palaces and castles I have seen. The most impressive part of Buckingham Palace was the gate, I don’t know why but I just loved them. From there I walked to Picadilly Circus and then to Oxford Circus where I met up with Nicci. Once again she had a surprise for me. She had planned to have some of the people we met throughout our trip to meet us at a bar in Soho. Two Laura’s, my man crush Dan, Jemma and some of Nicci’s friends that I haven’t met before that night all met for a good night out at Barrio Central followed by a late night snack at the American Embassy... aka McDonalds! That wasn’t it though. The next day she had bought football (soccer) tickets. I was very excited as this was one of my trip goals that I haven’t yet completed. Crystal Palace
vs. Watford! I explained to Nicci that any sport that most games end with scores of 1-0 or can end in a tie will never be popular in America. Crystal Palace must have heard cause they had their highest scoring game of the season and beat Watford 4-0. The best part was the crowd though. They really are crazy fans and they always have some chant going, I wish Browns fans would do the same. Great birthday!
So a month later was Nicci’s birthday. It would be hard to top everything she did for me, especially since this isn’t my country or area. Luckily Nicci had planned a little something for herself. “Nicci’s Night At The Dogs!” A bunch of Nicci’s old friends from Nottingham and London met up at her place early and we started drinking. I was nervous and excited cause this would be the first time I really met her friends but I loved them and I’m somewhat confident they liked me, lol. Next an interesting private coach with a makeshift stripper pole to Wimbledon Greyhound Race Track. It doesn’t really matter how much I won or lost, we had a good time and
this was my first time at a greyhound race. I never expected that the run that fast, you could barely see them. Then back to Nicci’s for a giant sleepover and more drinking. The next few days would be recovery days except for me taking Nicci to proper afternoon tea at Soho’s Secret Tea Room. I ended up getting Nicci a nice Sony electronic picture frame among some smaller gifts and lastly tickets to the theater. Since I don’t know what she has seen before, I let her pick the show and she picked right, of course. We went and saw “We Will Rock You” a musical based on Queen songs at the Dominion Theater. It was funny, entertaining, and awesome and one of the best shows I have seen and I will probably start listening to Queen again.
The most time consuming activity which also got me to see all of London was a giant Ester Egg Hunt. The City of London hid 209 giant eggs around the city each designed and painted by different people. It’s actually a giant charity fundraiser cause each egg has a code you text in for 25 pence (about 40
cents) and that enters you into a raffle at the end for the Diamond Jubilee Egg, a Faberge egg worth 100,000 pounds ($158,000). Before I knew what I was up against, I made the mistake of telling Nicci I would find them all for her. I was thinking that they couldn’t be that hard to find, but I was wrong. The city hid many of the eggs in mean locations. Some were hung up high, some blended in, some were on the streets, some were in stores. The worst were the ones in malls cause I would spend hours walking each floor of malls twice and when you are a single male walking through women’s underwear or kids departments, security starts watching you closely. So most of my days walking around London I must have looked like I was hearing voices cause I would constantly jerk my head up and down, left and right looking for these eggs. Sometimes I would get so caught up in it, I would see an egg on the other side of a main street and try to dart across, forgetting that they drive on the opposite side here and narrowly missing an oncoming car.
It was a good time though and they had many cool looking eggs. In the end I found 106 out of the 209. I probably would have found more but I got pretty sick my last five days there with a horrible cough that just wouldn’t go away. Anyway, I will have to let everyone know if I won the grand prize egg, if Nicci even tells me or if she suddenly disappears.
Here are some of the other activities and places I enjoyed in no particular order. Saw a few museums which were all free. First was the National Gallery, but that really was just paintings of portraits, not really my type of art. Also saw the Tate Modern. Very good museum and had awesome paintings and many other art exhibits. The Victoria & Albert Museum with a bunch of medieval stuff and diamond jewelry. Last was the Natural History Museum which was huge and had a bunch of interactive displays, animal exhibits, and dinosaur bones. I ended up getting lost in there and spent way more time then I wanted to.
I saw a movie with Nicci one night, “The Best Exotic
Marigold Hotel.” It actually was really funny and I am surprised I didn’t see it out in America when I looked. Spent a few hours at M&M World London, you can guess what that is. A few dinners out with some of Nicci’s friends. A few nights out drinking. Even saw a few sites every now and again. Big Ben was much bigger then I thought and I was glad to learn I am still impressed by things like that after a wonderful year of seeing them.
Here are some more general thoughts and my crazy observations about London. I couldn’t believe how many languages I heard while just walking the street. You can walk for ten minutes and hear 15 languages and 10 different British accents. I just don’t know if I can get used to the hustle and lack of hustle of London. Most of London is very fast paced. I don’t mind this and I can keep up, but I do get annoyed quickly when someone holds things up. Why would you walk into the busiest tube network or station in the world without knowing where to go? Why not just form a group
of ten people and randomly decide to just stop walking sending everyone behind you crashing into each other. If you are going to do that, may I suggest at the bottom of one of the escalators. I heard Londoners are very sensitive to their escalators, always stand on the right and let the walkers goes on the left. I am proud I never had a problem with this. There was a great show Nicci and I got into while I was there, it was a “reality” series following many different employees that work within the tube network. I got really addicted and wanted to make the show so whenever I would see anything happening in the underground, I would start waving at all the cameras. I also got into Top Gear, which luckily was on all the time but that also made it hard for me to leave the flat. What else? Um... the women like to wear see thru lace shirts with their bras out. That should help tourism.
Much of my London visit was to spend more time with Nicci and to meet her cat Daisy and I loved every second of it. Nicci showed
me such a great time. So good in fact (just look how happy I am holding that tea cup) that the plan is for me to hopefully move to England on a work visa by the end of the year, so if any of my loyal readers know anyone hiring in England, please let me know, lol. As for now, I will try to get Nicci to come to Cleveland as soon as she can and with all my airline miles I have racked up, I will come back and visit her again soon. I do want to thank all her friends too who were so nice and welcoming to me, even though I am American, lol.
Although this was the last country visited on my trip, I will not stop traveling or writing. I will have at least a 3 part wrap-up of my trip and what I learned coming within the next few days that will be the best blog entry of the decade. I expect everyone to cry, laugh, smile, yell and think but hopefully will just get people up and traveling.
There are more photos below