London & begining Berlin
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Published: April 24th 2005
St Pauls at night
St Paul's at night
5 July 2004
London is expensive, especially at first. For some reason I kept forgetting to do the conversion from pounds to dollars (Canadian). And so I would sit down to dinner for 'only' 10 pounds and say, "London really isn't that bad." Later that same night it hit me, hard. 10pounds is about 24CAD. I may have wept, but real men are in touch with their sensitive side. Later on I realized you couldn't do the conversion and still be willing to pay for anything.
Did a walk by of the must sees: Buckingham Palace, St James Park, some stables for the queens horses. some sort of old-fashioned military march went by - as i'm sure they do every half hour. Had a go of the London Eye. It was sponsored by BA, who made a big deal about pretending we were getting on a flight. they did i good job of it too. massive lines, security checks (my pocket knife was put in a safe box) and the same price i paid for my flight to berlin- 10 pound 50. there was a salvidor dali exhibt near by - i realized later he did St Pauls at night
St Paul's at night inverse
persistance of time> and a few other's that i like.
Swung by Trafalgar Square, Parliament, Westminster Abbey and all the government buildings. Downing St was blocked off, apparently the IRA kept trying to assasinate the PM - hardly cricket if you ask me. I secret I happened upon: Tony Blair actually lives at No. 11 Downing and has also taken over No. 12. Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, live at No. 10 (a sign of things to come?) Tony Blair still shows up at No. 10 for photos though.
Checked out the Tate Modern. Saw a good film there called the Spiral Jetty. Some guy built a giant spiral of rocks in Salt Lake, Utah, USA which was submerged a bit later - the artist was aware, so he claims, that this would happen. The commentary didn't even mention how many people feel spirals beautiful - being nature's growth pattern. Some of the paintings were really interesting, especially the interpretations of dreams. Some were absolut rubbish though. A blank canverse with a tear in it aparently signifies the artists frustration with ... well something. another room just had funiture and trash dropped in it and strewn around.
had dinner at the George Inn (est 1676). it wasn't very good at all but it's the oldest pub (in london, england, europe, the world???). Dickens and Shakespeare were supposed to have visited it. Speaking of whom ...
Went to Shakespeare's Globe Theater to see a play (5pounds) "Measure for Measure." For money like that you couldn't sit down. For some reason a German lady (who, to be fair, did actually work there) informed us that we couldn't sit down due to some technicallity with their fire insurance. Oddly we could sit during the intermission. Odder yet you could bring you own beer in there and drink it.
I'd love to have seen the meeting where that fire insurance policy was decided: 'ok patrons can sit during the hours of 6-9 am and pm on odd numbered days of the jewish calendar; patrons must line up for tickets in a counter-clockwise spiral that changes to a clockwise spiral evry hour on the hour - except during the muslim holy month of ramadan when the reserve is true...'
The play was decent - funny at times and not too hard to follow.
Stopped off at Picadilly Circus. I expected it to be like New York with tons of lights and movement and such. Instead it was like Britain, just a bunch of people standing around drinking.
***At this point I'll just point out that you can't even visibly carry any sort of alcohol in Canada, never mind drinking it in the street.
6 July 2004 London
Headed off to the Tower of London. Spent a good 4hours there. Was accosted by these typical East Enders wanting money for "Children's Day". They told me I didn't have a mean face and should therefore give them money. Later I wished i had retorted with "looks can be decieving" or "maybe thats becuase im still a child with youthful innocence" instead of pretending i couldn't speak english.
London Tower was really good. At a cost of 10.50 (for students) over four hours, thats only 2.60 an hour. The guide was quite good (big beard to him too) and saw a sword fight. Heard the story about how if the ravens ever leave the Tower the monarchy will fall. Wanted to ask if any extremeists had tried to kill the ravens - but feared it would get me blacklisted.
I got to stand on a conveyor belt and see a reproduction of the crown jewels. They mentioned something called the "Coronation Spoon" (no joke) and all these Indians nodded and ahhed looking impressed. I laughed. A coronation spoon??? did they feed the queen cheerios with it. if anyone knows anything about this spoon, send me a msg.
Wandered around Soho in the afternoon. Saw the London School of Economics and Covent Gardens. Which is not a garden at all. Some street performer jumping over kids and ballancing 'council rubbish bins'.
Road closures due to some sort of Indy Race (only went slowly). Horrible time getting home. Ended up in South Kensington and walked north, through Hyde Park.
During our battle with the Race we were approached by a gentleman and asked if we would like to purchase his CD. Ted did. He was invited to "D-Raw's" parties once he became famous. D-Raw didn't seem to understand that we lived in canada and weren't likely to cross the atlantic for a night. but it was only 3quid and i supose curiousity won out in the end.
7 July 2004 London
My notes are quite thin from here untill Bratislawa. I can tell you that today we made our way to Standstead. And on the Express Train to Standstead I bought a tea for 1pound.
The flight was on RyanAir and cost only 99pence plus taxes. Worked out to be about 13pounds. RyanAir should seriously consider trans-atlantic flights.
Ted was convinced one of the stewards on the flight was irish. i thought he was more likely bosnian. how can two people hear such different things? needless to say we pestered him the whole flight trying to figure it out. of course we never actually asked, "are you irish or bosnian?" for reasons that ought to be apparent.
Later that same night...
Landed in Berlin, Germany! This was Europe. The ground felt different - foriegn. I resited the urge to kiss it becuase it was raining.
While waiting to clear customs i noticed someone wasn't lining up properly (they had stepped past the yellow line!!!) i cringed, expecting several storm troopers to come running at him and beat him with sticks for his lack of order. in reality no one else noticed.
i realized that the only things i knew about germany came from my knowledge of the first and second world wars and the cold war. In canadian history germany is never mentioned during a period of peace. my german consisted only of yes/no, please/thank you, good day, police, various military terms (panzer, blitzkrieg...) and "jews come out". to be honest i expected a police state full of aryans obeying all sorts of laws and working efficiently. Later I was shocked to see german road workers taking a break - in fact i don't think i ever say one of them working. It was the same in England, but you kind of expect it there.
Anyways we landed at about 10ish, found the subway (U-bahn) in the dark and made our way to Nikolasse. There were several different routes we could take - the trouble was we didn't know when the last train would be - should we take the route with the least stops? the shortest distance?
half way through this i realized you had to validate your ticket - natuarally this caused fears of the polizei getting me.
whilst waiting for one of the trains i bought some chocolate. it was very good.
finally made it to nikolasse and had a look at the directions to the hostel. they went something like this. "turn left, follow footbridge, on right" so we were looking for a footbridge in the dark. we found one, walked through some woods and ended up in a street. the hostel - as it turned out - was next to a mental institution.
made it into the hostel- which was in some sort of 'lock down' mode for the night - and got our keys, as well as a stern lecture about the very percise rules. finally.
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