Where to begin?
Thursday turned out to be more fun than I thought it would be… the pub was quite crowded with about fifty Americans coming in at once, so I went out to a quiet place on a distant corner and got a doener kebab (finally!), and it was delicious. Everything I dreamed of and more. So there’s your ending for last post’s cliffhanger. Now,
let’s see… lots of things can happen in a weekend, so I’ll try and include just the interesting bits.
is when I got most of my touristy impulses out of the way. I went on the ‘Jack The Ripper’ tour of the City and the East End, which turned out to be fun but a little disappointing, because it was right at sunset and there was no fog. The chap was a great storyteller, though. I thought I heard a far-off actress screaming in agony, and expected to find a made-up corpse and for the guide to look all surprised, but it turned out to just be some people at a bar.
Saturday, I took a free (paid-for by our kind adviser, Eleanor Hight) bus tour of London with some other UNHers. A recorded narration was followed by a kind of annoying live narrator, a stop at the pub, a boat ride, and then a different, more calm narrator.
was especially an adventure. The day began with a walk to the art store, and a pair of much sexier sunglasses purchased from an Asian knock-off vendor. Tortoise-shell. Better-fitting. Eight pounds. Oh yeah.
An outing to Camden Market became a grand adventure when I got cut off from my group–I rode two or three tube stops in the wrong direction, and ended up walking about an hour through some residential neighborhoods until finally finding my way to the road that leads there. The benefit is that I saw some lovely buildings…
AND the English equivalent to the Dollar Tree: the 99p store! More like the $1.60 store, but there you have it. Got me some laundry powder.
Camden Market itself was massive and warren-like. New Englanders: imagine the biggest flea market you’ve ever been to, and multiply by a bajillion. Tunnels and tunnels of cramped-together stands selling knock-off bags, fashionable jackets, costume jewelery, music, t-shirts, shoes, electronics, carpets, hand-crafted goods, antiques, massages… and every so often, a large clearing would appear with twenty similarly-priced food stalls to choose from, each with its own wonderful smell to tease my poor cheap stomach and at least six vendors shouting at me to try some of their food. Every time I turned a corner, expecting the labyrinth to end, I found another endless line of shops and curios ahead of me. All I bought was a juice, but it was still an amazing place to explore. I felt like I was in the pilot episode to Firefly, only more cramped. If this is anything like the Portobello Street and Notting Hill markets, then fella, sign me up. I hear one of them has cheap fruit and veg, too, so more the better.
I went out drinking with some new friends from back home. It’s strange; a lot of my new friends would have otherwise been far out of my social sphere, but here we are, stuck at Regent’s, lonely and homesick.
I warmed up once someone offered to buy me drinks.
We went down the pub and had some Pimm’s. I felt like I needed to give some return to others’ charity (I’m no sponge!), so I tried my best to make good conversation, and surprisingly, it worked. Good people, all. Later, we smoked shisha (flavored tobacco in a hookah) with a Lebanese man–who my friends called Moe, short for Mohammed–running a food shop next door.
It was odd to accept so much for which we would usually pay, but my friends had hung out with him before, and Moe, being poor and lonely, didn’t mind serving us free tea and shisha, merely in exchange for our company.
I can honestly say I was out of my comfort zone all night. It was a good day. Am I finally starting to become an intrepid traveler, like I’ve always dreamed?
classes began. Fiction Writing seems like standard writing workshop stuff, and Drawing lasted all of twenty minutes before he let us go. Both classes seem exciting. After art class, Michael from New Jersey invited me to go to the Imperial War Museum with Horatio from Dubai. It was a long walk, but an interesting place (and free!). Michael turned out to be a world war II/tank/history buff. Man was like a kid in a candy shop around all those tanks and machine guns.
After that, my feet hurt too much to do much else but eat dinner and get ready for bed. Four hours later, here I am.