Monday, April 23, 2012

Later, London

As I write this we’re leaving London on a bus, heading to the southern coastal town of Brighton and Hove. The two cities merged recently so they are a single one now.

The Great Eastern was a good first “real” hostel experience. The first place was nice, but there were only a few beds, and private rooms. This time, we shared a room with 9 other people a night. They ranged from a ~60 year old Hungarian professor of anatomy to a Japanese guy with a guitar to a pair of traveling Australians, both named Matt. They were going on a two-week tour of Europe than were planning on looking for work in London.
There were two large common rooms in the first floor of the hostel. The bar served pizza and wraps. The lounge had a bunch of sitting spaces with couches and tables, which is were we ended up hanging out with the Matts last night. The Matt’s started looking at us oddly after about an hour. Eventually, we figured out that it was the bell peppers that we had purchased earlier that were drawing the questioning looks.
“Do you normally eat capsicums?” asked Matt. It took us a couple seconds to figure out they were talking about the peppers. After determining that we called black pepper “pepper” as well I tried to explain that peppers referred to all types of that style of “fruit” as they called the green bell-shaped food-product.
“Like jalapeno’s,” I said. “Do you know jalapeno’s?”
“Or habanero peppers? Do you know those?”
“After figuring out that no Mexican food related references were going to work I went for Thai.
“How about Thai chili pepper’s? What do you call those?”
“Chilis.” This whole thing made me happy that I live in a place that has a plethora of the spicy fruit.
“So do you use capsicums at all?” I asked.
“They come on the top of pizza for color, but you take them off before eating them.”
After arriving at the Great Eastern Hostel we turned around and headed to the Tower of London, which is the only admission fee we paid for an attraction. The highlight for me was getting to see the Crown Jewels. They had jewelry used for coronation ceremonies dating back to the 1600s. No pics allowed. Other pics above.
The next day we made the obligatory visit to Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace. They all paled in comparison to the Emirates. For those of you not fluent in football, the Emirates is the home-stadium of Arsenal, the biggest football club in London. They played a piddling little club named Chelsea on the day.
Unlike going to sports in the USA, there were almost no team colors. Jerseys were only worn by teenagers and youth. On top of it, the crowd was overwhelmingly male. We walked around the stadium until we found the statue of the greatest player to ever play in the premier league, Thierry Henry and I copied the pose from the time he scored a goal against that other piddling little London club known as Tottenham.
We then settled down in a pub called “The Herbert Chapman” to watch. Leslie had a great people-watching spot at the window while I made friends with some of the locals.
Our last full day in London was dominated by the London Marathon. I woke up a bit before Leslie, so was writing some code in the common room with the marathon on in the background, which is where we learned that they were really close. We walked out the front door and maybe five blocks when we ran into the race. Maybe three minutes later the male front runners ran by. (unfortunately, we’d missed the women, who ran first).
My favorite part was the costumes. One guy was dressed up like Superman, and another as a banana, but it was Dracula that was the front-running costume of the day.
After that, we went over to Greenich Village (of Greenich Mean Time fame) and found The Lost Hour for breakfast. We got the full English Breakfast while watching Everton come from behind to tie Manchester United 4-4.
We then made our way back to the hostel, picking up some “capsicums” on the way. The mission for the afternoon was laundry, but the nearby laundromat was closed. Instead, we went back to the hostel and hung out with other travelers while figuring out where to go next.
The train seems to be the most pleasant way to travel through Britain, but it’s much more expensive than the bus, so we found ourselves hustling past the National Rails signs towards Victoria Coach Station. The bus is nice though. Comfortable seats, outlets and some funny little old English ladies.
But no capsicums. . . .

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