Sunday, May 18, 2008

The London Journals Part III

1:51 P.M. London Time

Why is it that your depth perception seems to amplify itself after a few beer? This has always puzzled me. It feels like the flat mat of reality gains the 3rd dimension only after the booze factor kicks in. I'm sitting in Heathrow Terminal 3 waiting for my flight back and I'm pondering this rather curious behavior of the brain. I know that most individuals that drive drunk behind the wheel that are caught are caught because they have a habit of leaving their headlights off. This is due to the alcohol increasing their abilities of night vision which, I would assume, would be the reason that my perceptions alter every time that I drink during the day. But this doesn't answer my question. I'm off to find an answer.

1:55 P.M. London Time

12:45 A.M. London Time

I decided to take a trip today to the British Museum for my last hurrah in the city, so I woke up around 11:30 P.M. and trotted through the Underground to Trotterham Station and walked up a few blocks until I managed to actually find it this time. I remember the last time I was here I was new to the city and I got lost through the back streets. This time I, again, wanted to slap myself. The museum itself was an enormous piece of architectural brilliance. I don't know how I missed it.

Either way, I realized that the foyer (and a massive foyer, indeed) itself had my incredible pieces sitting inside of everything from ancient Egyptian and Iranian to modern Chinese. I've realized that New York museums really could learn a thing or two from their friends across the pond.

I started in the South Asian exhibit which was, by far, my favorite. I think I took too many pictures. You can access the best of them on my music page. The Central/South American exhibit was small but also excellent. The Japanese exhibit was a bit of a let down as I couldn't take pictures due to the large number of paper manuscripts they had. The Korean exhibit was just plain small and the Islamic exhibit wasn't nearly as good as the one at the Victoria and Albert Museum. There is one thought I had of note while I was being all touristy: many of these objects, it seemed had been plundered at one time from some far-off place, namely the wall stelae that I remember being from Sri Lanka and India. I could see some 19th Century English tourist ripping these from the very foundations that held them for hundreds of years without a thought for the site itself: the de-flowering of something sacred and holy for the appeal of the masses with the money to pay for them. This didn't sit well with me but I did what I had to, swallowed my guilt, and continued photographing. Unfortunately, the exhibits that I have mentioned were all that I had managed to get through in the three hours that had and I missed a lot. I had to start heading back to my place to take a shower, pack my stuff for the flight home, and then head to Kew Gardens to meet up with Amir and Lachin. On the way back to the Tube I stopped at a small Italian sandwich shop for something to put in my stomach and headed out.

By the time I got back and finished everything it was about 4:30 so I stopped at Starbucks to upload and Photoshop some pictures and headed out at about 5:30. It took me about 40 minutes on a very packed train. For anyone that commutes on railways on a normal basis: I feel for you.

When I got to Q Verde (go there if you're in Kew Garden) Amir was sitting outside taking to a friend when he saw me walk up. Smiles and handshakes abounded and I sat down with a glass of an Italian beer which I've had on a few other occasions but can't seem to remember the name. Either way, for a lighter beer, it was excellent. We talked about what we've been doing and how things have been going on both side of the ocean and I think we both realized that not much has changed in the 8 1/2 months since I was last here. I had to wait for Lachin because she had a term paper due and hadn't really slept in a few days. I believe she showed up around 8:00 and we hung around a little while to wait until things settled down so we could eat. Things clearly weren't settling down, though, so we and her dog, Toby, took a walk and talked. When we got back the restaurant had cleared out a bit and we ordered. I had some excellent calamari and then some incredible ravioli and I finished with some Italian desert that was something like a sweet tapioca pudding. That was what sent me heaven. I was withdrawal later on while waiting at the train station. So we talked and drank a little and, at about 11:30, I had to say my goodbyes so I didn't miss my train back. I figured that, since I didn't know when the latest District train left, I had better be safe. I didn't want to leave, but I had to.

So, I'm sitting here in my hotel room dreading going back. Maybe, just maybe, if I don't go to sleep tomorrow will never come. Yeah, right. I have no reason to go back there other than I have a duty to at least tie up my loose ends. I know one day I'll stay. Lachin and Amir know I want to stay. I know I want to. But not this time.

1:25 A.M. London Time

11:15 A.M. London Time

I missed my post yesterday because I just wasn't in the mood to type. I was a bit more lethargic than usual. I took a trip early on to Westminster and took a walk up to Westminster Abbey to see if I could actually locate the tomb of Issac Newton (which I finally did). The no-camera policy was a bit disturbing, though, as it was the last time. The tomb of Edward the Confessor is also there and my inability to take a picture wore at my nerves only slightly. I did manage a quick picture of Newton, though, with my camera phone. Shhh...don't tell anyone...

After my walk through the abbey I took a walk through the royal gardens by Buckingham Palace were I was able to catch a glimpse up close of a white pelican. You don't see a bird that large everyday, so I caught a picture of it grooming itself. After walking back up through Westminster I stopped for some sushi and proceeded back to the Underground and, from there, I stopped back at Prince of Teck to check my email and too see if I could get some proper directions to the Docklands Museum to see the Jack the Ripper exhibit.

After a light journey to the heart of the buisness district, I stopped at the Docklands Museum and made my way through the maze (almost literally) of the history of the Docklands. There were some interesting artifacts (namely the pictures of the excavations of a Roman wharf) but nothing too spectacular. Even the Jack the Ripper exhibit was a bit tame. They did have, on display, all of the original police reports of each of his victims but, other than that, nothing of real interest. Most of the exhibit had nothing more than some time-period artifacts that weren't too exciting. I intend to make my way back to the Victoria and Albert Museum today (being that I loved the Asian Art exhibit last time) and, after that, I will be heading to Islington Academy to see my friend Chris Paulsen's band The Color Fred play. Today will be, altogether, much more interesting than yesterday was.

11:28 A.M. London Time

4:55 P.M. London Time

I woke up to a "wake up call" this morning at 8 A.M. This required one of the Eastern European girls downstairs to slam on my door until I finally came around. It only took a minute. My alarm went off a minute later. I got up around 8:30 A.M. after my alarm wouldn't stop. I had to wake up anyway. I was intending to make my way over to Bath Spa to check out the Roman baths. I got dressed, got some tea at Starbucks, got frustrated at their internet problem, and headed towards the Earls Court station in order to catch the District Line to Paddington station. Paddington station was where the National Rail ran out of. I got to the station and purchased my to and fro tickets and picked up a baguette to go at a stand while I waited.

The train ride was nice and relaxing with lots of gorgeous scenery. If you're interested you can catch some of the pictures I took on my MySpace account when I upload them. Either way, the train ride was about an hour and twenty and I ended up in Bath around 11:20 A.M. I tooled around a bit looking for the Abbey of Bath (which I found right next to the Roman baths). I went through the Roman baths, took A LOT of pictures and sat in the courtyard of the main bath for a bit. It had been established in the first century A.D. by the Romans and I had never really seen anything quite like it. All in all I must have stayed about 2 hours just there. There was something I couldn't explain about those ruins. I can't put my finger on it.

I made my way to the Abbey of Bath (right next door. So close, in fact, that they believe that part of the Roman bath's ruins lie underneath the Abbey) and entered to a less-than-grand office which opened up to a more-than-godly cathedral. It wasn't the largest cathedral I'd entered (The National Cathedral in Washington) but it was aesthetically much more pleasing. I still have to get back to Westminster Abbey to see Issac Newton's tomb...

There was a crypt underneath the Abbey that I made my way to after the walk-through. They had exposed one tomb that had been accidently discovered. The tomb was that of a woman and she had been buried there over 1,000 years before. I sat there and looked at it for a while. The hips were deteriorated, the vertebrae were falling apart and the lower half of the skull had actually rotted away leaving the top of the skull sitting on the lower jaw. This body held me in thrall for about ten minutes. I thought about everything. It's incredible how much can run through your head in such a short time. Or, maybe, more time passed than I thought had.

I left the abbey, had some fish n' chips and a pint of Guinness at local pub, and decided to walk. I don't know how far I walked before I realized I was lost. I had stopped into a small Jazz Music Shop down some side street and everything after that is, more or less, the same. I was too stuck in my head to really pay attention to my surroundings. It must have taken me about 45 minutes or so to find my way back to the train. I remembered asking the ticket man when the trains run back to London. He had mentioned that the trains run on the 17th and 43rd minute (I think) of every hour. Looking at my watch I realized that I had about 4 minutes to get back before I had to wait another half hour. Needless to say, I picked up my pace and got onto the train right before the doors close.

The hour and twenty back went pretty quickly being that I slept though most of it. All the walking (up large hills since Bath is on a hill) had beaten me. I got back to Paddington station and got lost getting back to the Underground. That station isn't very well marked. I got down to the tracks on the wrong side but waited until I saw the name change to Wimbledon on the other side. I ran pretty quickly and, again, made a train I almost missed. I'm getting good at this.

My journey, again, leads me to a pint and free internet access from the Prince of Teck Pub, right across the street from Earl's Court.

5:25 P.M. London Time

2:25 P.M. London Time

I didn't do much last night after the last entry. I took a nap and woke up at 10 P.M. to shower and head out get a pint of beer and a tika doner. I then came home and watched Monty Python: The Meaning of Life.

I woke up this morning at about 9 A.M. to make my way down to the Museum of London. There was the Londinium exhibit that I wanted to check out along with remains of the old Roman wall. I stopped in for a cup of tea at Starbucks and to check my email before I made my way to the Underground. I new I had to take the District Line East to Embankment station and then hop on the Northern Line north to Tottenham Court Road station where I could pick up the Central Line East to the St. Paul's station. (I really am getting good at this.) The museum was only a short walk from the station. It was so close, in fact, that I almost smacked myself for missing it the last time I was here. I had to walk up a flight of steps of a building across the street and cross over a small skyway (with a wonderful view) to get t the museum.

There were a few exhibits but most of the museum was closed off for remodeling. I gawked my way through the Great Fire of London exhibit and the Roman exhibit of which I got several nice photos. After about an hour I stalked back down to the street to find something to drink.

I ended up stopping at St. Paul's Cathedral, a monstrous edifice clearly of late 17th century origin. Being that they were charging for admission after the cafe I decided to stay in the cafe to drink my tea. After the tea I headed out and ended up on Fleet St. (of Sweeny Todd fame) and walked to Westminster where I headed across the river and to the Waterloo station. Before the Underground station I stopped off at a pub to eat some breakfast (right across from the Blackfriar station). I took the Northern Line north back to the Embankement station where I took the District Line west back to the Earls Court station.

One incident of note. When I initially embarked today, I ran across an old man playing the violin in the Totterham Court Road station( I believe it was). He made an odd figure, much in the way that Ian Anderson does when he plays his flute. The old man had scraggly, bushy hair with a bald top and a great scraggly, bushy beard to match. He danced around the floor with a wreckless abandon that I, personally, hadn't felt in some time. His strange paisley vest outfitted over the black collared shirt and matching black pants cut him out on the tiled white walls in a very strange way. He made me think about freedom and the abandonment off all inhibitions. This has becoming something of a common theme to me. The more I see things like this, the more they become hardened in my mind and their catalysis spreads like ice from the edges of a lake.

I only stayed for a minute before dropping the handful of change I had into his violin case.

2:53 P.M. London Time

1:48 P.M. London Time

I'm sitting in a Starbucks in London once again, waiting to check-in to my hotel at 2 P.M.. I don't have the foggiest idea what to expect this time. There will be more on that tomorrow. I left last night on time at about 9:30 P.M. EST and arrived here at about 9:15 GMT. A seven hour flight that takes twelve hours can be a killer. I'm not nodding off yet, but once I start with the beer a bit later, I will be.

The flight was uneventful. I managed to catch a few films. Most notable would have been Charlie Wilson's War which, I must say, will come as a highly recommended movie. I began to watch Into the Wild but, to my bereavement, it was cut short by the landing procedure. A friend had recommended it to me saying that it was, without a doubt, a "Frank Film". After five minutes I realized that she couldn't have been anymore right. Now I have to watch the rest on the way home. An even though I don't really want to admit this, I even took the time to watch Alien Vs. Predator II. It wasn't great, but it sure beat the living hell out of the first piece of Hollywood fecal matter.

Customs was quick. I was through customs and baggage pickup within thirty minutes and then I was back on the good-old Tube. The Oyster Card I purchased a month ago seems to have been well worth the $100 I dropped on it. I didn't have to wait in the line at the ticket booth. Stressless and clean. I was forced to stand most of the way to the Earls Court station, but I was a bit more relaxed than the last time I was here so it really didn't matter.

I arrived at the station and made my way up to Warwick Street, making a right at the exit to head to the cross street I was looking for, Nevern Square. After finding it, I had to ask for directions as my hotel was actually off on a side street that was also part of Nevern Square. The girl at the desk told me that check-in wasn't until after 2 P.M., so I left my luggage in their closet and took a walk. I stopped at a small Mediterranean restaurant that I had eaten at the last time I was here, stopped at a coffee shop for tea and then I walked a few miles to Hyde Park and took a stroll through it. After I was done walking I stopped in at another Starbucks to read my emails. It would seem that all the T-Mobile boxes in every Starbucks (including this one. I'm borrowing a random signal that I was able to grab.) in London is down. I left that Starbucks, stopped at the Middle-Eastern restaurant that I so wished were somewhere in Manalapan to pick up a lamb ticka kebab, and came here to kill the rest of my time before check in.

Please kill me now. I may die of exhaustion on my own, otherwise.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i just have one comment: you are in England, why the hell are you drinking tea at Starbucks?