Friday the 15th I visited England for the first time, in more detail I visited London. I visited for roughly 4 days. This is the story of that visit.
The first day was mostly getting accustomed to the traffic, the hotel and the area directly around our hotel. The hotel was located in Craven Hill, and there was at least 25 other hotels.
The first thing I noticed was that fresh air was of very limited quantity, and we (me and the person I was traveling with) had to ration the supply we brought with us from Sweden. It is well known in Sweden that you shouldn’t drink the local water. While this is very much an overly cautious warning, I had little control over our rationing, and thus I had to drink bottled water for most of the trip. Since it was an urban trip, there was no lack of restaurants, and since we couldn’t check in until 02:00 PM, we had two hours of spare time. We decided to find something to eat, and relocated, after making fun of a Swedish named restaurant that was Greek (It had oriental decoration and served food from all over the world, except Scandinavia), to a pub nearby.
We ordered Fish and Chips. One for each person, that is two, and drinks for it. The fish, while well done, was tasteless and needed at least a spoonful of salt for it to give any flavor. The chips were thick and, while crispy at first, were not as much later on. They were still satisfying though, and it was in the end, I think, a successful meal.
Continuing on, we decided to walk around the immediate area near the hotel, and eventually we found a used game store (that is, I found one while my traveling companion smoked). It was a glorious find, and I spent money there, but little did I know I would return later with more.
We returned to the hotel and checked in. The hotel room was too small, but in the end it didn’t matter, because I would spend most of my time there sleeping, which is the first thing I did that day as well. Closing my eyes, I felt the heat from the duvet, my clothes and the little blanket we had over the bed. It was a very comforting heat, in the same vain of a sauna.
I woke up, and a few hours (roughly 2-3) had passed since I last ate, so we decided it was time for dinner. We set out to find the most London-like of all restaurants, a Thai one. Since our plan failed, because there was so many choices, we went to an Indian one. There I ordered some kind of chicken with rice and it was spicy. Not the good kind of spicy, but the stinging, not good one. This proved to be the best meal of all I experienced during the trip. After eating we returned to the hotel, in order to sleep, to rest for the coming day.
I woke to the sweet singing music of food network programs. Delicious bacon, steaks, eggs and ham poked at the hunger center in my brain, and we prepared to eat breakfast. Of course, we couldn’t eat at the hotel, because that would be what’s expected. We aimed for Oxford street, and at the “start” of it we found the bastion of healthy food. Yes, we found a McDonalds, and decided to venture inside. I ordered a chicken meal and fries (in order to stay healthy, of course). To compliment that I had a Coke, because that is part of the recommended McDonalds breakfast.
After this meal we continued our journey towards this mythical and awe inspiring city, aiming for Soho, in order to be able to joke about the prostitution that happened there. Of course we also looked at expensive clothing and high-heels, because that’s what dudes do when sight-seeing (Right? Right?! Right.). We arrived at Soho, and because it existed, we went to a pub and had a drink. Still not allowed to purchase alcohol (unlike my earlier thoughts that time passed faster in England, my theorizes was struck down very quickly), I drank Pepsi.
We continued to walk on and eventually we ended up near London eye, but because we had to cross a bridge, we didn’t go there or ride it. We eventually came to our destination, Harrods, a large luxury warehouse. We went in under the guise of being fancy people, but in reality it was a search for bathrooms. After having walked around the whole building, we found the glorious toilets, and decided to do our business. After, now intent to going back to the hotel, we continued the long and hard journey.
Thus, we set eyes on Hyde park, in order to cross it, because our hotel was on the other side of it. When we found it, we decided to enter it, and I could feel that this was a sanctuary (a place where non-lethal air could exist).
We came across a few squirrels playing around with some tourist, and we, brave souls as we were, decided to also play with them. As it approached me I could feel death approaching, and I screamed like the manly man I am and hid. But, my brave companion pressed on, and eventually he conquered the creature by letting it climb on his leg. Obviously completely horrified by the monstrous leg, it playfully ran back to his (or her? Squirrels can not be girls, right?) nest.
After witnessing a swan bullying a man for his food, we eventually crossed this Heaven on Earth. We decided to rest our feet and return to the hotel, so after visiting a nearby pub to visit their washrooms, we walked back home. There, I played around on my laptop and after only 2 hours we decided to go eat something, something different, something Italian.
Nearby there was a restaurant, and a greeter decided to persuade us to stop in. Being a solid wall of focus and will that I am, I bent only after 5 seconds, and we went inside. Feeling that I prevailed, I chose one of the most expensive items on the menu, a pizza called “Tutto Carne”. Roughly translated, it literally means “all meat”. That wasn’t true, though. It had dough and cheese, but I didn’t get furious like I should’ve, instead I was delighted by the fact that the dough was chewy, very much like Gummy Bears.
Returning from the meal, we heard something quite peculiar on the way back to the hotel. It was the screams of a Frenchman. It echoed through the now dark alleys and streets. I didn’t understand the reason for his anger, and it wouldn’t be until the day after I would realize the only logical truth there could be. We then went to the hotel to rest for the night, as the day afterwards we would need it.
I had originally decided to travel to England with the purpose of visiting Alexandra Palace, but all that changed this morning. After dressing I had a flashback, a most glorious one. A one of fried chicken, one of braveness. A flashback of pure, American beauty. We decided to go to KFC (it does not exist in Sweden, so it would’ve been a first time event). It was close to a subway station, so we went in. It was fairly normal fast food place, and we ordered a normal meal, and something to drink. What would happen next was the most horrible of horrible events. I needed self-counseling just to dig up these memories, and even now I can barely remember what happened.
The food was eatable, or at least I told myself it was. In reality it really was the most Frenchman angering, gut-wrenching meal I’ve ever had. The only thing redeeming it was the popcorn chicken and a bone free filet, the rest is still tucked away deep in my mind.
We had to return home, we had forgotten the tickets to Alexandra Palace. This worked very much in my favor, as I was in urgent need of a bathroom. After finding the tickets and visiting the bathroom, we walked to the subway station, and got inside one of the trains. We were aiming for Green Wood, and once we arrived we set way for Alexandra Palace.
We stopped at a bus station, because we just missed the bus, and it wasn’t like were in a hurry. We were approached by a cab driver, and payed to get driven there instead. We arrived around 5 minutes later, and we started to try to find our way inside.
The building was large, and so were the grounds, but eventually we found our way there. After showing the tickets, we went to the information booth. The concert hadn’t started yet so we bought water, found a place where we could store our coats, and then went inside. It was light inside, and we did little more than drift around for a few hours.
Eventually rappers went the two main stages, Watsky and Wax. They were great, and as they sang their songs I went to drink an energy drink, Monster, to be exact, and enjoy the music. After they’d played time went on fast, and we decided to go to a “chill-out” area for coffee and something to chew on. After going back and forth from there, we decided to find something to eat, as quite a long time had passed. I went for a chicken burger, which tasted like wet salad and tasteless chicken. During the time I was in the eating area Coheed And Cambria were playing, and I fell asleep. Later I got a report that people giggled at me. I still do not understand why, but I guess the workings of the human mind is unexplainable.
It was only an hour before the band I wanted to see would play, and Billy Talent played before. Their music got me really hyper and unfocused, and the hour felt like an eternity, or at least more than 30 minutes. But then, it happened, Rise Against started to play, and the world turned into a dark, decadent concert hall. It was ordered chaos, with loud music and the crowd going crazy. It was enjoyable, at the very least. Their program was great, and after they had played I wanted to return home. My voice sounded as manly as it could, rough, very quiet and like I had swallowed a billion nails. My companion theorized it was because I screamed my throat apart, but I knew better. It was the 7UP, it could not be anything else.
We returned to the hotel as quick as possible, without any obstructions (unless you count one of the subway trains malfunctioning, which I do). I went to bed early, once again falling asleep to the angelic voice of that guy on the food network.
Day Four: The Final One
I woke up and mindlessly dressed, and once again sat down to watch food network. It would be the final deed done in the hotel, and thus, deserved to be imprinted deep into my memory. After packing, we had to abandon the tv and set out for the train station. We passed a Burger King on our way there, and decided to end the week with the greatest feast of our lives, so we entered the fast food restaurant, and ordered the same thing for both of us. A normal Whopper meal and a sweet and sour chicken wrap, it proved to indeed be the best Burger King in England I’ve ever visited, which is no easy feat.
After leaving, we headed for the London Underground station, which was nearby. After a few short minutes of doing absolutely nothing we entered the train, which was small, crowded and heading for Victoria station. Like most trains in the England, it smelled strangely of cinnamon buns and sandwiches, which is a by-product of the English attitude. Due to London being large, there was quite a long ride to Victoria Station, but we arrived, and from there we had to ride overground train to Gatwick airport.
There, the next mission was to buy perfume as gifts. Being the manly man I am, I was deeply read and knowledgeable into the subject of perfumes and similar products, and quickly identified the wished for products. Time passed quickly, as it always does in perfume stores, and eventually we had to leave the for the plane.
Thus, my trip to the London ended, and it earned its place in my heart, now and forever.
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