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Published: February 8th 2006
The tower and War memorial
The Millennium tower, which was supposed to be open by y2k (actually built 2003)and the war memorial on the left
With my term in Maastricht coming to an end, it was time to venture off to the United Kingdom and get settled in for a semester there. It seems that wherever I go in Europe, it is just as long of a trip as if I had gone across the Atlantic. The trip started off with a 2 ½ hour train ride to Amsterdam, 50 minute flight to Bournemouth, short drive to the coach station, and then a 2 hour bus trip to Portsmouth. Adding on the hours spent waiting for the next mode of transportation; it took 12 hours for me to reach my destination. By the time all this is over, one feels like it is not possible that the distance of the trip only amounted to a few hundred miles.
Bournemouth: the smallest and most rundown airport I have ever been to, bar none. The city itself was not the most interesting, but seemed ok, in fact, more modern than Portsmouth. However, nothing really interesting enough to warrant even a picture.
Portsmouth: after arriving from the journey too long for the distance traveled, I phoned my landlord to inform him that I had arrived and get
directions to my room. Well, this turned out to be a non-starter. The room had been given away. There I was, at the transit station in Portsmouth, with no place to stay. Fantastic: after a full day of travel and 2 hours sleep, I was officially in a good mood. But, God provided. I went across the street to a café that was still open and asked about any leads on a place to stay. To my surprise, this place was also a B&B, and the room rate was not too bad by UK standards, 25 pound with breakfast. And, in a complete reversal of my other experience with British hospitality, the owner said that if I didn’t have cash on me (no credit cards taken), I could pay him the next day. He handed over the key (the room was next door), didn’t need any form of identification (he said that he trusted me and that it was no problem), wished me a nice night and said that I could come down anytime for my breakfast. 13 hours of much needed rest later, I found a replacement room on my first phone call, had a good breakfast and set
out with my bags for the 1 mile walk to Southsea.
At first it is hard to describe, but even though I have not been there, it strikes me as being like a USA northeast coast beach town. When compared to my previous residence in Maastricht, there is no doubting that this is a lower class area (generally speaking). An interesting indicator of grocery store policy is evident before even setting foot in one. In Holland, stores charge about .15 euro per bag. As I walked down the street and saw the number of plastic bags rustling about, I immediately thought ‘they must be free here.’ Sure enough, they are. The sea is not far from where I live, about a ten minute walk. My room is located in what they call Somerstown, which is more or less right in the middle of everything. Pretty much in the middle of the island, and only five minutes from ASDA (wall mart family grocery store), five minutes to the Uni (versity) library, 20 minutes to my new church etc. My flat mates are all Chinese. One is a Malaysian citizen while the other two are Chinese nationals. They are quiet,
neat and tidy, and don’t use the living room. My bedroom is the only one on the main floor, and thus it works out that I have the living room right next to my room, and am the only one who uses it. Classes start next week, and I should have more to say once they get under way.
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