17 August 1999
In London we stayed with my friend Justin, who is from South Africa. I met him in Moscow in 1990. It is really nice staying with people, not just because it is cheaper, but also because it is easier to get a feel for the place. His roommates were very interesting and friendly, it was nice chatting over dinner. The Hostel in Seattle gave us each a one week, 6 zone London Travelcard as a going away present, which allowed us free access to the Tube and the busses. It was GREAT!! I really like taking the Tube, it is quick and easy, but the city busses (the double decker ones!) offer a great way to see parts of the city you might otherwise miss... so we rode them quite a bit as well. It is fascinating reading the advertising in the Underground. Very different than in the US -- more intelligent, more hip, more sexual. And there were about 10 different places that sell travel insurance!
The first day when we arrived from Bonn we stashed out stuph at his house and went to Brick Lane for Indian food. We were able to see some far flung places and were also able to get from Justin's house near Clapham High Street (High street means Main Street... so Highway means Main road!) to central London and places like Brick Lane and Soho where we spent a lot of time. We walked the Regent's Canal, went to Cannizaro Park, had Indian food at Brick Lane, went to the Brixton Market, took a photo crossing Abby Road, visited Lords Cricket Ground (one day too late to see a game -- DAMN!) walked the Roman wall and wandered many neighborhoods.
London is a fun, vibrant, EXPENSIVE, happening city. It doesn't seem to realize that it is no longer the largest city in the world (it's now number 16) but that means that it FEELS important! The many newspapers have huge screaming headlines every day, and all of it is a way of trying to assert London as the center of the world. I could spend a lot of time there... but it IS expensive and it was was time to move on.
So we went on a day trip to Cambridge with Justin, wandered the market and the Backs (meadows behind the colleges) and we punted our own boat up and down the river Cam. Punting is HARD. It looks so easy, but pushing on the bottom and trying to make the boat go forward (and not sideways or backwards) while trying to keep your feet on the boat is challanging. I was impressed that i did not fall in. . Also, keeping a hold of the pole is a challenge! (At one point we had to rescue a pole for someone who had lost theirs!) It was lots of fun.
We had planned on renting a car and taking a 3 or four day trip around
Cornwall, land of Arthur, and perhaps Hastings, Canterbury & Rye ... but time
did not allow. Another time we will do that (hopefully on a bicycle!)....
© Copyright Mark Canizaro 1999
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