It’s been an insane two weeks, and I really wish I could do this post justice by adding pics, but considering how even getting the “h” key to depress on this shitty computer requires Herculean effort, I think I’d better not.
**Note: I wanted to proofread this post, but thanks to the overenthusiastic South African gamers in this Internet Cafe with me, I can’t concentrate. Corn Nut? This is your cue to edit!
I arrived in London at around 11 in the morning, bleary-eyed from lack of sleep (note to self: Bring Pills!) and reeking with that straight-off-the-plane stench. I hopped off the plane and rushed to grab a ticket for the underground so I could meet Will at our chosen spot at noon in Central London somewhere. I gathered my things and strode briskly up to the woman minding the ticket booth and asked for a ticket for whatever metro would get me to All Bar One, where I would meet Will for a day of sightseeing. Since I assumed All Bar One was a famous bar that would be an immediate point of recognition for any self-respecting Londoner, I didn’t bother to write down his accompanying directions. What I came to find out was that All Bar One was a chain of restaurants that have multiple locations throughout the city. It would be like arriving in San Francisco and asking someone on the street where you could find The Peet’s Coffee. -shakes head- Happily, my mistake only cost me about an hour, and at 1pm on the nose, I strode into All Bar One, Leicester Square, and was greeted by a bright-eyed (and possibly over-caffeinated… he’d been waiting a long time) Will. We sighted, we saw, and we caught up on all the things that had happened since we last saw each other. It’s a really good feeling to be able to pick up exactly where you left off with someone you haven’t seen in years… it’s a great reminder that good friendships aren’t dependent on distance at all. After a few hours of walking around and staring at diamond-encrusted skulls, we met up with Farrell, and I did my best to stave off my sleepiness by downing many-a-beer with them and recounting tales from our days at Inti Wara Yassi.
The next day I awoke and beelined straight for Westminster Abbey. For a little background information: I’d been to London before, back in 2006. That time, I contracted an awful case of strep throat that I tried to force into submission by just stubbornly going about my business without acknowledging the disease at all. This is a stupid way to do things. First off, you will be sick and your throat will puff up and you will start to drool. Second, you will not get better, and will pass much of your trip coming off as angry and socially awkward. Anyway, during that trip, half-alive and laden with germs, I gazed upon the outside of Westminster Abbey, and marveled at its quaint exterior and charming likeness to a barn. During THIS trip, I actually found that I must have been on drugs the first time, and was able to explore the real Westminster, which looks nothing like a barn.
Christians have Nazareth, Muslims have Mecca, and Lit majors have Westminster. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that odd giddiness that accompanies seeing something truly cool. I never would have imagined that, among the throngs of tourists mindlessly rotating from spot to spot with their audio-guided headsets, I would be as impressed as I was. Something about being in the burial place of Keats, Shelley, Dickens, Handel, Chaucer, Austen, Milton, Browning, and all the Bronte sisters was enough to make me stop, sit, and gape with awe. I even walked past the grave of Muzio Clementi, Issac Newton, and Charles Darwin~~! Super, super, super cool.
Special thanks to Farrell, who went out of his way to provide me with shelter, guidance, and very, VERY filling English Breakfasts every morning. A bit of advice: do NOT pop a whole fried tomato in your mouth. It is a very bad idea and will make you cry.
If I had left Europe straight after visiting Copenhagen, I would have named it my favorite city in Europe and been done with it. Imagine a city with all the history and beauty of Paris, but bigger and better portion sizes for their food. Then, take out all the snobby Parisians and replace them with Scandanavian supermodels that are all so used to living amongst other supermodels that they have no sense of their own inherent hotness. Then, make them fun-loving, friendly and open. In the city, take out all darkness and make it daylight all the time, make the buses efficient, the streets clean, and have parties all day and night for the foreseeable future. Then, surround this utopian metropolis with a beautiful countryside. Then, you will have something close to what I experienced in Copenhagen. I can’t say my opinion isn’t colored by the fact that I was entertained and surrounded by some of my absolute favorite people in the world while I was there, who spoiled me, took me out to party my ass off, and fattened me up with all kinds of Nordic goodies (and beer!). Distortion was a blast, and I was very, very happy for a few days. That is all.
1. Amsterdam: I’ve been to Amsterdam before, and every time I come, I think to myself how beautiful and unique it is. Unfortunately, while the great majority of Amsterdamers are friendly and hospitable, there are a select few who make me want to punch their faces off. These include people who refer to Rotterdamers (??) as cockroaches, who insist that there’s no reason to leave Amsterdam, and who tell people they don’t even know that the American accent is too nasally and that one must fake a different accent if they want at all to get on in Holland. To these people, I have only this to say: You should all be punched straight in the ovaries. Fuck you.
2. Utrecht: This has to be the most liveable city in Holland, if not one of the most liveable cities in the world. It’s gorgeous, friendly, and incredibly accessible by foot and bike. My sister spent a year studying here, and while I envied her for having spent a year studying abroad, I never quite envied WHERE she was studying until I saw it for myself. The city is lovely and the people are so ridiculously nice, you almost think that they’re fucking with you. My dear JJ picked me up from Utrecht Centraal and we spent a fantastic day together eating yummy food, discussing the history of Holland, visiting cheeseries, reminiscing about past trips and collaborating on ideas for future ones. It was the perfect way to spend a day, and I think Utrecht, with its funny spelling and even funnier pronunciation, has reached the top of my list.
3. Rotterdam: I didn’t go to Rotterdam to see Rotterdam. I went to Rotterdam to see a sweet friend that I hadn’t laid eyes on in nearly 5 years. As was the case with Dewi, Will, Farrell, and all the others from my 2007 South America trip, nothing had changed. We drank wine and talked about everything that had happened in the interim, and I was assured that my travel friendships aren’t just friendships I make for the time being, but are friendships that I make for a lifetime. Oh, I also happened upon the building that Jackie Chan slid down in his movie “Who Am I?” It totally made my day.
So, now I’m in South Africa. There’s much to update on about this country, although today is the first day I’ve actually spent alone and I haven’t quite gotten the hang of traveling here yet. I will head to Mossellbaai in the morning and report back my findings from there.