I was just over in the big smoke last year in 2010 but I had to keep reminding myself of how mystifying London can be the first time you are here…So I allowed myself to get lost in the culture differences and could tell that Josh was buzzing about everything happening around him. The permasmile on his face actually brought me a bit of a smile as well…there really is something to that first realization of “holy shit, I’m 3000 miles away from home.”
I kind of long to feel that again, to be honest.
There is a sort of familiarity to a lot of the experience here for me. I’m comfortable with public transit and savvy enough to get around without too much hassle. There are also other memories that are a little less inviting. We had stopped in a pub near London Tower that had bangers and mash, which were delightful. However there is this smell in the pub that reminded me of my days in the Lyceum. I honestly smell that same smell everywhere here.
I think it is a cleaning product. It reminded me of the time I was here last where on one of the evenings I pushed myself too hard on a hangover and found myself a bit sick, spun out in a tiny flat above a bar trying to recover with Walkers Crisps, Coca-Cola, and sausage rolls. That smell, if anything, serves as a lesson that it’s important to have a damn water every now and again and recover. I got a little lost in pub culture here, and spent a bit too much of my time drinking until 4 AM last time.
That is a mistake Josh was committed to not making last night.
But before we get into that, I should tell you that we visited the London WWII Exhibit which is the Britain at War Experience. It was actually quite an interesting place and I’m glad we went in. Josh is a history buff, so it was kind of like seeing the exhibit with a history teacher who is really committed to the idea of teaching young minds and making them interested, when it’s clear they never will.
There were a few things in this place that resonated with me. Children trying on gas masks was kind of one of them. I had read that issued gas masks at the beginning of the war were designed to look a bit like Mickey Mouse to make them a fun game to get the children used to wearing them. I also learned about how they put children, some women, and invalids into camps to try and keep the population stocked and avoid demoralization.
It made the concept of war very real to me…
We don’t really know war like we used to, do we? The emotion that started to come out just putting my mind into these situations was staggering. At the end of the exhibit they have a “blitz experience” which is basically a mock inside/outside area of bombing that is filled with smoke, devastation, and the sounds of sirens and searchlights. That sealed the deal for me to be honest. It was so vivid thinking about how one might feel and react to this situation.
However, I digress. I don’t want to bum out my loyal six readers.
We stumbled over to Tower Bridge, which is one of my favorite sites in London. It represents a long rich history and is quite ornate in its design. Josh took the usual pictures, but I found myself again being kind of bored…enjoying everything still, but not as excited as I once was. I think this emotion is reflected well in this picture.
I should be far more excited than this, right?
We headed over to London Tower and picked up some tickets tomorrow. It’s now tomorrow at the time of writing this and let me say I’m very glad for this fact. The sun is shining and it’s gorgeous outside. It will be a good day to ride the London Eye, see the tower, Westminster Abbey and etc. I’m glad that Josh will get to see all of these things.
Let’s face it…if you’re going to be kind enough to bring someone along to the UK, they should do all of the ridiculously touristy type things. Josh seen here in a British phone booth. What’s funny is the phone booth just around the corner from Dave is much more boring. At some point they apparently decided to stop doing these…because, after all, who the hell really needs them?
Josh is now used to getting around, but I thought I’d show one more shot of his permasmile because it amuses me, like the smile of a child amuses me.
We headed down The Strand, picked up a banana and popped into the Lyceum for a couple of pints. Saw Ritchie milling about but nobody else. The landlords have changed and I have to admit the entire feeling of it had changed. It was a bit like moving away from your home town and coming back only to feel kind of out of place and foreign. I suppose we all have to move on, some time.
We proceeded to The Globe to get some more drinks and have a bit of dinner. I love the fact that they have pie of the day here. What’s great about the UK is everyone thinks the food is awful. That’s completely rubbish. Everything I eat here I tend to really like. I had a lamb shank at this bar smothered in onion and rosemary gravy over a bed of mash with some shrimp tempura and sweet chili sauce mayonnaise to start. It was an amazing meal and just what I needed to pick up my spirits for a few more pints.
I was in a way glad that the pubs close at around 11 in London. I was tired…but I managed to stay awake on the train. Perhaps it was because I was still pissed about having to pay 30p (0.41 USD) to go to the bathroom at the train station. I’m sure this is done to prevent homeless people from living in there, but jesus is it ever frustrating to try and sort out change when you have to piss!
Dave like a champ sleeping for the rest of the train journey home, in and out while Josh read the news. Don’t tell anyone, but we hadn’t paid train fare and a ticket collector was supposedly on the train. He/she never showed up, and good job that because I didn’t want to have to pretend to be a dumb American.
I’ll thank you not to laugh at that.
By for now. Out to see the sights today, have a nice meal and then pack for Germany.