Something to tide you over

London Travel Blog

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Meditating at Salisbury Cathedral

Hello all. London is great and I'm really sorry I haven't posted any blogs yet. 2 reasons for this: 1) I can't upload photos at this time :( 2) To use the internet, I have to walk to the bus stop, wait for the bus, ride down the street, walk to an internet cafe, and pay by the minute. It could easily take 20 minutes both ways...boring you yet? OK. Here's the good stuff:

Arrived in London...2 Fridays ago, I think, so I'm at the 2 week mark. We're staying at the Hampstead Campus of King's College, which is way up sort of in the middle of nowhere (or so it seems to me), but which is actually close to some really nice neighborhoods (single bedroom apartments starting at $1.

Bored in the dorm room...
2 million -- we checked). Most people don't own cars because buses or the tube (the underground - what we would call the subway, except here the "subway" is a pedestrian path that goes under the road - so you can safely cross) go everywhere. The people who do own cars generally own very nice cars -- Lexus, Mercedes, Ferrari....but I've grown to love the public transportation -- it makes it really easy to get around this huge complicated city. Anyway, the dorms themselves are so much like American dorms they're hardly worth mentioning: small brick room painted a dreary shade of white, with the gents' (we never call them bathrooms - everywhere, even nice restaraunts, even just call it the toilet. --> "toilets this way, gents and ladies", etc.) down the hall where there are two very small showers. There are two walls and a curtain, making a tight triangle for you to shower in, with the grimy curtain constantly being sucked in up against you.
Trafalger Sqaure. Crowds cool off in the fountain, with the National Gallery in the background, on the hottest day of the year.
In all seriousness, I dreamt 2 nights ago that I discovered large showers somewhere on campus. The food in the refectory is basic cafeteria food, basically like American except always more dry (no grease, rarely gravy or sauce). We've had really good lasagna and great Cornish pasties (rhymes with nasty, which it's not), which are basically nice hot pocket/chicken pot pie things, with whatever you want in them. They also seem to serve curry chicken or curry lamb every night, so those have been interesting.

I generally try to eat every meal I can, even some ones that aren't meant for me, in the refectory (some meals are supposed to be just for the Italians that are staying at the school -- a big group of them -- but sometimes a couple of us join them), because eating out here is incredibly expensive. The first week, I went out one night with a friend and we spent almost £50 for everything at the restaurant and pub.
Oxford coffeeshop
With the exchange rate, that's almost $100. So! Lesson learned -- stick with free food as much as possible, look for cheap restaurants. Even then I'm paying more, because the numbers of the prices are the same -- £6 for chicken tenders or a burger or whatever -- but with the exchange rate being almost half that's a $12 burger. Bottled water ("still", not sparkling - you have to specify) at any park or station will be at least a pound, making it two dollars.

On a happier note, I've met lots of cool people. It seems like every shop girl or bartender or server is from another country. Bartender here, by the way, means generally the person who you order food and drink from even at a restaurant. SOP is to walk in, walk straight to the bar, order your food, and sit down, telling him or her where you're sitting. Anyway, I've met Akshay (Marakesh) and Hiks at Wetherspoons, Aga (Poland) at Nando's, Magda (also Poland) at a bagel shop, Frank (or so he calls himself - China) and Jasmina (Morocco) at The Old Black Lion; a shopgirl from Lithuania gave me directions yesterday, and yesterday I also met Rachel from Brighton (England), Laura from Spain, Joanne from Wales, Jo from Scotland, and Cullum from Wales.

By the way, I've seen Pirates of the Caribbean 2, last night with Jayme (from MTSU) and her Guildhall acting school classmates (Jo, Laura, and Rachel). It was really cool. They give you assigned seating in the cinema. It's like ordering tickets for a concert or a show or something.

What else....my calves have probably never been stronger. Between walking to bus and tube stations and walking around various parts of the city and various parks (there are tons), I and my classmates probably average over 5 miles a day, with lots of stairs and hills and occasional running. I had to run last night to catch the last tube and I was amazed at how easy it was, since I haven't run in forever, but it seems all the walking has made me fit. :) And tanned, too, because unlike what I expected, it's been extremely sunny almost every day here. In fact, we're having a heat wave, with this last Wednesday being the hottest day of the year - over 100 degrees, 115 on the tube, 120 on a bus. It's not bad today, though. Anyway, I've got to check train times to Scotland and I have clothes in the dryer back at campus, so I've got to go.
Smith

PS I'm taking tons of photos and keeping a detailed journal in a notebook, so hopefully you can expect more from this soon. Ta, cheers, and all that.

PPS Alright, photos added! Also be sure to check the Table of Contents on the upper left of this page for photos from other cities besides London, even though I snuck a couple on this page.

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Meditating at Salisbury Cathedral
Meditating at Salisbury Cathedral
Bored in the dorm room...
Bored in the dorm room...
Trafalger Sqaure. Crowds cool off …
Trafalger Sqaure. Crowds cool off…
Oxford coffeeshop
Oxford coffeeshop
London
photo by: ulysses