Monday, February 15, 2016

The Smartphone and the Dumb American (A love story?)

Firstly, if you have not ever watched the show Idiot's worth the watch for the chuckles. Watching that sealed the deal of my need to be immersed among 8 million strangers, many of whom speak in an assortment of British accents.
Now onto my rather eventful day, which has simply carried on from yesterday with a few decent snoozes on the Dreamliner.
The Dreamliner was quite cozy, especially because I had a front-row seat and could stretch out my legs, which was a trade-off for not having under-seat space, which made me less productive during the flight. Still, their touch-screen technology, incredible movie selection, and decent vegan food kept me satisfied on the 6ish hour journey. I'm already looking forward to the ride back so I can stow things under the seat in front of me, and so I can finish the last 20 minutes of The Time Travelers Wife. (I thought if I cut it off at a sweet part I could walk away and pretend it had a happy ending, but they did a good job of spoiling that possibility.).

Upon coming into the UK, I got rather giddy. Maybe it was because not enough blood was flowing to my head from the long flight, but I even teared up a little bit at the site of vast quarted countrysides, and sheep sitting among the greenest of pastures. Here I was, at last, among this city I had heard and read and thought so much about.

But maybe due to the blood, or the lack of sleep, that feeling quickly faded. My excitement to be surrounded by British accents waned almost immediately upon watching a woman chew on a word in between puffs of her cigarette. I waited half an hour in line to have my passport stamped - only my second stamp, and my first in 10 years. I hadn't prepared much for this trip, and I certainly hadn't prepared for what a passport-checker would inquire. She asked about my job, why I don't know where I'm staying beyond tonight, and how much money I brought. She was polite, but I wondered how much I should be telling least until I got nervous that she might not let me in. Alas, I was passed, so I picked up my luggage, exchanged my hard-earned-money into less than I thought it was worth despite some promotion they said they gave me, and headed out to the train.
On the train, it hit me again. Despite the colorful graffiti and the quaint, British row houses, and a few sprawling stretching of garden that made me smile, a lot of the scenery reminded me of riding the Metro North from NYC. I began to wonder if it was really worth all this money and effort and confusion just to see new graffiti on a different arrangement of bricks. This must be the lack of sleep talking, cause I'm usually a glass-half-full person.
A clever artist inspires thoughtful graffiti. 

Thing did brighten up a bit when I stepped off the train at Blackfrairs Station to follow a 2 mile tour from my book, Walking London (which is more useful, but not as entertaining as London Walking, the other book I brought along.)
I started by crossing the Blackfriars Bridge then walking along the Thames. I popped into a little museum/shoppe of the Royal Societies of Painters in Watercolour and Painters/Engravers.

This was my favorite. Not a bad price, but more than in my budget. 
Then past the former Power Station.

...and past a pub that stands where once all the iron work for St Paul's cathedral was forged. I then popped out past the New Globe Theatre, where I hope to return for a show, past the Rose Theatre in which Titus Andronicus is playing in a few months, and was the site of the first time that play was ere performed (so thought).

Rose Theatre- with Hamlet photos

Then to the site of the old Globe. Fascinating history amongst the hustle and bustle of today's London. The Globe is right across from Financial Times, and around the corner is where years of Bear-baiting took place in the 1600's. I walked through a forgotten red light district with not a single red light remaining, then around the corner to The Anchor, an inn from around 1775. I had a cider, served with a glass of ice, and a plate of local mushrooms cooked in a pie crust with little onions and gravy + mashed potatoes and veggies.
Cheers, this tastes like soda :) 

Not bad, and not too expensive, though the cider was a little big for my lil alcohol appetite.

Clink Street

After the Inn I walked down Clink street and avoided some semi-expensive thrills and tours, "London Bridge, The terror," and the old Prison Museum. For whatever reason, I wasn't feeling it.
The Golden Hinde and another Photo-taker

What remains of Winchester Palace
Past the Golden Hinde ship and to the Southwark Cathedral, where I was mistaken for either a middle school choir student or their chaperone (hopefully the latter). Buried at this church are Chaucer's friend John Gower and Shakespeare's brother, and John Harvard, Harvard's founder, was born here. Amazing that so much history is enriched in one beautiful building. I didn't take the time to explore it after the choir confusion, instead making my way to Borough Market.
Southwark Cathedral
At this point, I thought I should make my way to my destination - the airbnb I'm typing this at currently. But due to the maps being positioned with North facing down, I got dreadfully confused and ended up crossing the London Bridge twice, which wasn't a problem. By the second time, though I decided not to rely on my sense of direction for the next 3 miles, nor my phone's batter (which turned out to be a wise decision) and took a train.
I bought a week long unlimited train pass for 56 pounds. Hopefully it pays off! After a small detour, I made it to my house, where I'm fighting some strange allergy and attempting to stay up past 8:00pm to cure the jet lag.


I'm finally planning out the next week(or so) of my trip....and I'm not going to lie, I thought about and researched ending this trip a little early...but I'll stick through. There's so much yet to be seen. I'm sure it's just the lack of sleep making me cranky. :)

In summary, here's a look at my "travel score" so far:
WINNING: Finding clean bathrooms; Affordable, local/fresh fruit parfait!
On PAR: Connecting to Free WiFi for all my belated travel planning; finding decent deals, food
FAILING: Directions, packing

On one hand, I'm proud that I navigated NYC all by myself before I had a smart phone. On the other hand, I'm relying on it heavily out here.I'm interested to see what changes this will bring upon the world.

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