(Author’s note: I am writing this from a smoky public house (pub) in South London and drinking a real pint (larger glass) or Stella (Artois). Dark paint, thick ornate woodwork and paned glass are everywhere. People are shouting in at least two different languages and any number of thick brogues, and the music is a loud. Pints cost almost $6/each, and cocktails are more like $9. I would be forty times drunker if budget allowed. Oh…and foggy London town, my ass. It’s been so warm and so bright it usually blew out the lighting on my pictures. Confound you, wonderful weather.)
I have had few more surreal days than yesterday.
London time is 7 hours ahead of west coast time; 4 hours ahead of NYC, plus throw in that daylight saving thing. Because of my amazing airline experience (see previous blog), I didn’t sleep at all during my flight. I left NYC at 7:30 p.m. local time and arrived in London at 7 a.m. local time. After customs and some deft (and daft) subway/tube/underground navigation, I checked my things into my hostel (the best hostel ever…to be continued). I knew if I slept then, I would be screwed with ever trying to adjust.
I bought a day pass for public transit that morning for a mere $14, so I busted out toward the River Thames which runs through the center of everything. I prefer to skip the tourist recommendations and just wander until I get a good cross-section feel of the city. I stumbled around in a sleepy haze, seeing some amazing things and taking some great self-portraits in front of them. It was pretty funny. I found a monument that only charged about $4 to climb to the top for sweet city views, so I bit. A heart failure later, I had some more solo travel pics and sweaty pits.
At one point I passed out on a park bench after staring glassy-eyed at the River Thames. I woke up scared that a pigeon had shat in my mouth while I’d had my neck flopped back and my jaws agape. I probably walked at least 5 miles, couldn’t afford to eat (so expensive…bottles of water for $2), and my mental state steadily declined. In the throes of surreal climax, I spent the last few hours of my night at the pub (downstairs of the hostel), drinking with a 67-year-old Cockney Brit with more war stories and bloodlust than you could shoot between the eyes and a 40-something Dubliner named Patty (or Patrick) who told me, “I’ve been drunk since I was born,” and later asked me to go home with him. When I went to bed (my hostel bed, thank you), I realized I had purchased a bed in a co-ed room. Huh.
It was phenomenal.
These are my pictures.
Red Eyes, Red Eyes, Red Eyes: I wasn’t expecting to see you again so…spoon. (If you recognize that quote, you win.) This is fresh outta Heafrow, rocking the underground tube with a big ass knapsack.
My first view of the Tower Bridge while walking across the London Bridge. Per usual MY London britches were perpetually falling down past my butt gap.
Hey. This tall thing commemerating a big fire looks tall. I should climb it.
Oh my god. What was I thinking? These are 311 steps of hypnotizing terror. I had leg cramps, but they did give me a certificate of completion.
A view from the top, including that big weiner pickle-looking building.
What can I say? I’m totally queer for London bridgery.
A tourist group of one.
This is what the Cranepocalypse looks like.
Choose your own adventure.
The British dance funny. I think maybe it’s like the Humpty Hump. “First I limp to the side like my leg was broken…” But it’s got more flourish.
Did you know they have trees in London? Neither did sleepy J, I guess.
This is a narrow, colorful street I discovered when I spent time in London in the early 1900s.
Oh hello there. I’m just in front of this bridge here, taking pictures of myself. Why are you hiding your children?
I think this is Westminster. There are maybe some abbeys and universities around.
London? More like Fundon!
Ohhh. Just kidding. Fun time is over…nothing but stale bread crusts and water from here on out.
This is just what it looks like – a weird fish and a sphinx sphincter.
You pipe down, Sphinxy Cleopatra, or I will fart right on your paw.
The London Eye is basically an enormous bike wheel with dingleberries.
By this point, my lunacy was obvious, and they threw me in the original “Clink” with these chaps. Lovely fellows really.
I hope you have enjoyed. They were photos hard-won with a saber of sleep deprivation. My slice Ashley flies in tomorrow, and we will train and ferry to Dublin, then bus up to Belfast to spend St. Pat’s with a friend of Ashley’s and with all her mates. Yikes.