This post is dedicated to the great Keith Bailey- I’m sad that you’re not here with me my friend. To those of you who are uninformed, Keith, my great friend and intended travel buddy, snapped his collarbone in a biking accident in Davis the week before we were planning to leave. He has since had surgery to re-set the injury, and is waiting patiently for it to heal at his parents warm home in Livermore. Conveniently, Keith was able to change the date on his flight without too much hassle, and will hopefully be crossing the Atlantic to do some Europe exploration on the 4th of June. My thoughts are with you often buddy. Get well soon.
I wasn’t quite prepared for this trip. If I had been, I’d have started this blog before I left. Instead, my time was filled with moving my things home from Tahoe (thank you so very much Miss Maria), painting some houses (I was happy to help with the work on the Crikos rentals to earn a few extra bucks for the trip), a couple family-home-video projects, and spending time with the people I love all over the bay area. If I didn’t get a chance to see you, I apologize. I won’t be gone so long this time and we better kick it when I get back.
I couldn’t have asked for much more of an American send off. Complete with a large quantity of cheap American beer (and the binge drinking which comes along with it), classic drinking games (beer pong, flip cup, etc.) but then also classic American creativity leading to chicken tossing, freeze dancing and subjective trivia. Thank you so much to Robin and Greg especially, as well as everyone who came out to have a good time on my behalf that night. 16ft, 3.5 in- wow, truly a record toss. I often wonder what could’ve been achieved had Greg thrown Cluck instead of Babs. The world may never know.
Tuesday, May 8th, I strapped on the trekking sandals, loaded up the backpack (downsized from before), said goodbye to everyone in the north-bay (including Gail Bachman, back from the Peace Corps!) and caught the bus down to SF. I got to see some lovely faces for a night, which I see all too seldom, then it was off to the airport the next day. I traveled fairly easily- carrying on everything I’d brought, so it was just a measly 10 hour plane ride, across the Atlantic Ocean, to London, England.
I didn’t see much from the plane. I was in the center seat, which sucked, but even still the city was covered in fog. Kinda perfect actually- just the weather I expected of London. Through the airport without hassle (lying to the immigration officer about having a set plan after I’d heard they grill you if you have a one-way ticket and no plan), got some money out with my trusty Charles Schwab account which refunds ATM fees (win), and got onto the tube (minding the gap of course). Took the Picadilly line from Heathrow to Covent Garden (tourist central) where I broke a £20 note on a bottle of water so I could use an awesomely cliché, red telephone box to call my friend Rosie.
Rosie, a British friend I actually met in South America where she was studying abroad and the guys and I were trekkin’ hard, kindly met me in the city and was an awesome tour guide. We saw St. James Park, Buckingham Palace, the Parliament Buildings, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the London Eye, and had a nice walk along the Thames River before the jet lag started to hit, halfway through a pint at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese (ancient pub underground downtown- very cool, very London).
Since then, it’s been more awesome sightseeing, with a little biking the streets of London thrown in (terrifyingly fun). I’ve seen John Soane’s Museum, the Hunterian Museum, the British Museum, the Tate Modern Museum, Hyde Park, Abbey Road, the Natural History Museum, Victoria and Albert’s Museum (the museums are free here, can you tell?), took the Thames Clipper out to the Prime Meridian in Greenwich, and a whole lot more. The tourist circuit really.
Somewhere in there I met up with the amazing Peter Levi- great friend who I met while he was studying abroad at UC Davis. One of the top priorities while in Europe was to visit Pete. He’s living in the city and working as an engineer (putting that good education to work). So very awesome to see him and get to spend some time. And, coincidentally, another friend of his from the states (Santa Rosa even!), Casey, flew out on the same flight as mine, one day earlier, to visit Pete as well. So the three of us have been hitting all the tourist spots, and a few not, in London.
In between each tourist destination, we’ve been looking for the typical British meal. I’d heard mixed reviews of the cuisine in these parts, but I’m glad to be able to get an impression first hand- I totally dig it. We had proper fish and chips out in Greenwich, which I don’t think any Londoners eat unless they’re showing it to tourists, and breakfast that day included baked beans- an awesome addition to the standard eggs and toast. Got a proper curry with Rosie and company- there’s loads of Indian food here. It was delicious. And of course there have been many tasty pints. I can’t even tell you- they’re all delicious. Enjoyed a nice Guinness with Casey as we watch the excitement of Manchester City taking the Premiere League title from Manchester United. One for the sports history books as well as mine.
The tentative plan right now is to see a bit of the English countryside before heading to continental Europe where any number of epic things are bound to happen. But for now, thank you for reading and enjoy the pictures.