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Saturday, April 2, 2011

ICE CREAM FOR MY ASS



Above are some photos! I am having issues with photobucket over here so used something else Pete told me about to put them up.



Well, again it seems that I am up at seven AM, well ahead of my erstwhile traveling companions so I thought I'd add some more to my blog. This seems like a lot of text but my traveling companions are still attempting to sleep - at 9am. It's funny because when I was in the states (USA) I would lie in bed till noon or one PM. Here, I am getting (over the last two or three days) about six hours sleep and feeling ready to go out and see/do shit. I'm just excited to be on the road and active. I'm guessing that's not fun to travel with (ie the asshole that's always up and showered a couple hours or more before anyone else feels like moving) so I do appologize to them.



This time, I'm going to talk about London vs your money. I didn't mistype that - you will feel like your money is in a cage match to the death with London.

Here's some ideas of the kind of things (if you spend like me) you will be spending your money on:

Food - this is 8-12 pounds per meal. Not per day, per meal. You will eat probably three times a day. I've read a lot of travel sources that said things like 'you can go out to the grocery store and buy food' and 'you can eat twice a day or less'. They are all full of shit. Lets think about this. Unless you are the kind of person who walks five miles each way every day to work (like Pete) you will feel like you are walking, standing or standing in line for eight hours a day or more. Up and down stairs. Narrow assed stairs. You're out 'seeing stuff' and doing 'touristy things'. Translation - you're building up a 'healthy appetite'. You're going to be eating probably three times a day plus some small sacks. Just count on it. When you are walking around seeing all of this tourist stuff, you are going to be coming across restaurants and cool places to eat with smells that will have you wanting to gouge the eyes out of a hapless diner and steal their food. You aren't going to go to a grocery store. Ain't happening. You will say things like "Well, I've traveled X miles!" and "I may never be this way again!" and such. Plan on eating out every time. If you are here for a week and do get to the grocery store, those will be the very rare - not nearly common enough to really save you any money. And, there is the drinking. London has a ton of ciders, beers and other drinks. Plan on 4 pounds per, probably a minimum of one drink per meal, two is safer. So each meal, probably 16 pounds per (with the drink) and you're going to do that a minimum of twice a day and we'll add an extra half meal - either various snacks or whatever. Forty pounds per day just in food and drink - probably more. If you're not spending probably fifty pounds per day in food, you probably won't really be enjoying yourself. So allot that at least.

If you want a mid-upper type meal, a bit over 25 pounds per person. Fucking ouch. And that was the restaurant called "The Delhi Brasserie". Here's an advertisement for them:

"Chief Angry ass says 'If you want to feel like you have dysentery, eat at the Delhi Brasserie. For 25 pounds per person, you can go to the bathroom at least four times in rapid succession. It's better than a free enema!!





Lodging - you are going to have pretty much a minimum of 20 pounds per day (down to 40 - you can't get a single for 20) on lodging. That kind of money will not get you a 'nice' place to stay - more of a 'you pay now!' kind of place where you pray your neighbors are too exhausted from traveling to sit up and talk or drink and make a ruckus. Actually, I even heard someone quietly taking a leak - who was in a different room. It makes me laugh to think of what they heard from me after Indian food but I'm betting they aren't in a hurry to come over and introduce themselves.

London is not a cheap place to stay. Hence, if you have two people traveling together you can stay in a place for 20 pounds each - if you are traveling on your own, you will get stuck paying 40 or more for a place you aren't fond of. Again the people who say 'if you stay outside of the center of London you can pay less' - full of shit again. You are going to be doing so much walking, standing for hours and such looking at the tourist stuff that the very last thing in the world you will want to do is to travel for an hour via tube to get to where you're going. You will want to stay in the city center. One travel tip is to book a single night in a place then spend the next day looking for the places that are good but not smart enough or hip enough to have their hotel/hostel/etc listed on the internet. The downside is that you may burn half a day or longer looking for one. Sadly, I can't really recommend a nifty place to stay as the Anwar house only really has price going for it and nothing else.

Tube and train travel - they have these things called 'oyster cards' that have been well talked about. These are credit card looking things (they're blue! Joy) that you can prepay and have your rail traveling money taken care of till you need a refil. Although they aren't especially difficult to buy, put money on and check the balance of there are usually lines (ques, as they call them here) of people waiting to do the same. Using them is very easy - watch what other people are doing at the gates into the subway and do the same. Tip - place your card over the reader, don't try to swipe it. Just slap it down and wait for the beep. The gate does NOT need to close and reset from the previous person for you to use yours. Listen for the beep you will come to know. Cost - pretty minimal. I think you pay like 5 pounds for the card and get one with 3 pounds on it. I had put 20 pounds on mine and think I've got about 15 left on it after 2 days of doing tourist stuff. I'd probably recommend putting 10 pounds on it if you're here for a week, check it half way through and see if you feel the need to add more. Tube and train travel seems cheap.
Now after all of this talk of money, be sure to go to the internet and find out what the current exchange rate is and do a little math. I'm thinking that London is about (realistically) $200 a day. I'm not kidding. Do I think it's worth it? Meh. If you're well to do (financially, read as 'rich') or just dying to see some of the stuff in and around London, sure - tons and tons of people seem to like it. If you are poor, stay the fuck out - it will latch onto your neck and suck the money right out of you.

Tourist stuff - the usual price for different things ('attractions') seems to be around 20 pounds. They can get away with such a high price because London is literally crawling with tourists. I was looking for a local to find out where to get a 'shephards pie' ad literrally had a load of trouble finding someone who actually lived here - not to mention knew about shephards pie. I very much wanted one made from real shephards. I figure if you allot 20 pounds a day for 'tourist shit' you should be able to see one cool thing per day. Some stuff will cost more and quite a few things are said to be 'free'. I haven't run into much of that yet but it is said to be out there. Well, OK, I take it back. The National Gallery is free, but who wants to go?

The National Gallery. This is an art museaum. By looking around and reading people, I have generalized the people who go there into a few categories:

People who are artists: There aren't many of them but you can sometimes see them sitting there looking up at the paintings in obvious rapture and sketching away. Jana fits into this category although she seems to have forgotten anything to draw with.

People who just like art: A rare breed but they go around and find paintings and stuff that interest them. I call them 'odd'. Pete and Richard fit into this category. In his defense, Pete did find a couple paintings referenced in Dr. Who. Moderately interesting I thought but way too much pain and suffering to endure to look at two pictures.

People who are bored out of their fucking mind. Easy to spot if you know anything about body laguage. They are just enduring this part, hoping to escape or kill themselves before they have been subjected to too much art. Matt and I both fit into this category although Matt came up with a fun game to make the experence less painful. It involved 'girl watching' and discussing them as though they were art. This kind of shifty double talk is something we are both proficient in and it helped pass the time. I'm sure a lot of people thought we were in a different cateory from the way we talked. I was 'arted out' after about three rooms. There were approximately seven times that many rooms. It was hell but I was going for the others as a) that's the kind of thing they like to do and b) it was free.
Serious, thoughtful intellectuals who know about art. These are also known as 'assholes' (or possibly 'tossers' in the local venacular). [I believe the literal meaning of 'tosser' or 'toss pot' is someone who sits around mastrubating but I think the actual use has grown to encompass someone who is an all purpose idiot.] These are the people who sit around saying things like 'Do you see how the forcefulness of these brushstrokes helps to emphasize blah blah blah?' They usually have someone else with them as it is impossible to show someone else how smart you are if you are alone. Clearly, I don't have a lot of love for these people.
People who are attempting to torture others (spouce or children) through an infussion of 'culture'. These people could be in the 'thoughtful intellectual' (asshole) category or just well meaning but stupid people who have an unshakable belief that subjecting others to 'culture' will somehow make them better people. We saw a mom giving her kids some sort of game book that had the 'find the paintings in the art gallery'. She was attempting to trick her offspring into sucking up some culture, the poor little bastards.

There may be other categories and some people may fit into multiple categories but this seems like a decent starter list.

I'm sure that someone is asking themselves "Logan, was there nothing you enjoyed at the art exhibit?" There was only one picture I liked. It was a guy (who looked a bit of a naughty homosexual) slightly leaning forward with a cannon behind him. I entitled that one "Surprise buttsex with cannon". I was imagining the guy saying in a falsetto voice "I am ready to be surprised now!!" Yes, I'm afraid that is the kind of fucked up weird shit that goes through my brain. That sort of warped though process might be why so many people are reading the blog. Who knows?

Some thoughts on London itself. Actually, first, a disclaimer. If you say "But you repeated yourself from your other post on London!" You haven't been reading this blog for long, have you? I fucking repeat myself all the time. I am old, probably a bit senile and have the right to babble. If you are thinking "You should combine your various London posts into one", then I a thinking "You should hire me a fucking editor and let him/her do it". That out of the way, let me give my my impressions after a couple of days in London.

Friends - this is the main reason I came to London. I've been here before a quarter of a century ago. I like to give the 'beady eyed old man glare' to Jana when I say this because I don't think she was born when I first came here. Anyway, getting to hang out with Richard, Wanker - er - I mean Matt, Pete and Jana is a good time. It's a pity I haven't seen anyone else from London who was into the HC game but given the next paragraph down, I can kind of understand why.

Hemmoraging money - I am blasting through money at such a rate that it is absolutely frightening. I think I'm going through a couple hundred a day in US dollars and not really living that extravigantly. Getting the ticket to travel from England to Amsterdam was a bit more than I expected - 60 pounds. The usual amount of money I am carrying around for spending cash is 60 pounds.

Sites (aka 'tourist shit') - Honestly, they look fake. I'm not sure if it's because I've seen a lot of them in pictures so often or just the surreal nature of being in London or the millions of other tourists, but they just seem fake. I'm not really sure I can express why.

People/tourists: A lot of people who I've talked to have mentioned London as a place they'd like to go, simply because they already speak the language. While it is true that the native language of London (well, and England in general) is English, this is NOT the usual language you hear on the streets. That language is 'other'. London is a huge tourist place for Asians, Italians, Germans and people from God knows where. It is surprisingly difficult to find someone who is outright English in London. Even the shop keepers have a strong accent that indicates they probably weren't raised here. Seeing people with rolling suitcases is quite the norm. I don't remember near this many tourists last time I was here, but I might not have been in the right place. That being said, I still do like to talk to other people, to the horror of my companions. I have a personal set of beliefs such as most people are basically decent, want to be helpful and so on that cause me to have no hesitation when talking to strangers. The few native Londoners I've found tend to look very surprised or wary when someone they don't know approaches them wanting to talk. I've been told the first thought people have is 'what is this person wanting from me' though when they hear my American accent they tend to relax quickly. I'm guessing they think "Ah, another lost/confused/idiot tourist" and I am forgiven the social fopa of speaking to them. And then they turn out to be kind and helpful. I am the kind of person that will strike up a conversation with a stranger on a bus. I am curious about people, their customs, lifestyle and city. I think it shows and after they get over the initial shock of someone speaking to them they open up pretty quickly. I've noticed that a lot of people in this city tend to ignore those around them, keep their heads down and walk quickly.

Food/drinks (no culture shock, decent food no horrible typical English food, cosmopolitian). When I was first in London, one of the shocks was just how terrible English food was. This seems to have changed mostly due to the huge amount of 'foreigners' that have come here, settled and opened restaurants. London has everything but finding the right restaurant to go to is quite a challenge. If you're like our group, you'll probably end up becoming regulars at whatever pub is close by. Pub food (or 'pub grub' as it is called here) is typically better quality than American 'bar food'. As I mentioned above, it is usually less than 10 pounds for a single course meal (not including deserts, starters (appetisers) and drinks. Yesterday, we had a 'full English' breakfast. It was OK but nothing to 'write home about' (aka 'medum experience'). For those who don't know, a 'full English' tends to include a bacon like substance. American bacon is prettty thin, usually crunchy. Not so with the bacon here. It is pretty thick (like their money) and damn hard to cut with a fork and knife. Chewy and with a slightly different taste. They also tend not to wrap it around other foods and deep fry the whole thing. Weird, I know. In addition to that, you get either scrambled or 'fried' eggs. Their version of frying was to drop the eggs into hot oil and let them cook. They look pretty unattractive when you get them. I was happy I went with scrambled - standard taste. They also have a sausage - didn't care for it much but the ketchup helped. As I've noted on my previous travels, ketchup tastes different in every country you go to - even if it is Heinz. There was half a fried tomato and what tasted like standard canned baked beans. Standard wheat toast. Mushrooms. It is a bit cheaper than a normal meal (about 5 pounds). Now a note on 'pubs' - they are chains. Just like fast food restaurants. There seem to be four companies (according to Matt and Richard, our local experts) that own most of the pubs. The menus of one are the same if you go to another owned by the same company. I had some romantic notion of a pub being passed down within the family, pubs being very different and such. In London, this is utter bullshit. It's like a fastfood chain - but due to the price, it's where you're going to live. Also, if you're hanging out with Londoners (like Matt and Richard) the culture usually finds them in the pub. You'll probably be around for 3-5 drinks worth (at 4 pounds each or so). Here, it is not rampant alcoholism, just ordinary life.

Safety/pickpocketing. There are signs up in some of the places (and businesses) saying 'watch your bags!' Stupid tourists obviously still don't have this down. I was sitting in a pub and a guy who looked very much like a bouncer came over to a table of chatting oblivous tourists, held up a purse and said 'is this anyone's bag?' Surprise, it turned out to be one of the ladies who was sitting there, much to her surprise. Apparently, the bouncer had managed to catch someone making off with her purse that probably had her money, credit cards, passport and other personal items in it. If you sling a bag over the back of a chair, you are pretty much saying 'Please steal this, I am a dumbass'. Even with as naturally paranoid as I am (not feeling really comfortable unless I'm sitting facing the room with my back to a wall, always wearing my small 'about town' bag slung across my shoulders, etc) I still think it is very possible to pickpocket me. The 'what a lovely city, I'll just set my bags next to my chair and ignore them while I chat like an airhead' idiots are probably much easier prey. Matt was talking about his run in with a little old lady in a subway station who had her hand accidentally wander into his pocket seeking his wallet when he noticed. Anyone can be a pickpocket.

Tube (subway) stations and trains can get very crowded - these are very easy places for pickpockets to work. I think it would be a nifty skill to be able to spot a pickpocket and pickpocket them (as in the Ocean's 11 movie) but hey - I can't even sit on a bed without falling off - I'm thinking I lack the coordination for fine work.

This is something that is pretty rare in the states - generally, we just shoot bitches and take their money. In Europe, they seem a bit more refined about it. Watch your shit. Have hidden, under your clothing, pain in the ass to get to pouches and hidden things. Don't carry more money on you than you will spend in a day. Be watchful ("Ever vigilant!" - some Harry Potter movie). As far as violent crimes, their policemen don't even carry guns. It doesn't seem too bad at all for that. I'd feel perfectly safe wandering around the inner part of London by myself at weird hours. No biggie there. No 'warning, land mines left over from some war' stuff. Having said this, I can't find my fucking hat. I think I lost it. Shit.



Some other things we did:

Jana made us shop till I dropped.

Saw where they sell 'hooker boots'.

Found a restaurant simply called 'Eat'.

Ate a Cornish Paste.

We went to a place in London called Oxford Street near Regeant Street. This is the 'green' properties on the Monopoly board. In order of the game, they had painted everything - including their children - green.

We walked through one pub in order to get to another pub. In the area we were in you could point randomly anywhere and be pointing at a pub. And many of them were full.

When we were looking for the world famous Harrad's, I asked a lady when we thought we were near where it was. She said "Seven kilometers that way in Knightsbridge. Ironically, that area had neither a knight nor a bridge. False advertising yet again.

Harrads' is a world famous shopping place where you supposedly can get anything. There is even a famous story about someone joking with the clerk about wondering if he could get an elephant. After a pause, the clerk said "Very good sir - would you prefer African or Indian?" I discovered this is absolute rubbish. I was looking for POP TARTS and they didn't have them, no clue what they were and all of that. So unless you are shopping for a fucking elephant, you are out of luck. You wouldn't believe the looks I got from the others while on 'Pop Tart quest'. They said I was a heathen. And Matt, they DON'T HAVE POPTARTS IN LONDON YOU TWAT. Well, at least at Herrads. So bang rocks together sir.

Went to the Sherlock Holmes gift shop on Baker Street. I found an alcohol filled machine gun for sale. No idea what Holmes would be doing with that. Pete (who surprised the doorman by producing his own deerstalker cap) got a picture with the doorman who was dressed as a period bobby (cop). I told the man "He was the most photographed man in London". This seemed to please him and he agreed.

We found a place that served both waffles and ice cream together. Again, in your face Matt! For those who don't know, the waffles are quite a bit different here and widely sold as street food though I've never seen anyone other than myself eat one.

There was a shitload of (unarmed) police standing around in the Baker Street area. I approached a police woman (while all of my buddies cringed at me going and talking to yet someone else) and asked why. Soccer hulligans were nearby drinking. (Note, she called them 'football drinkers' but I translated that).

Took a picture of Christina, the Canadian. She has been our waitress more times than she wanted to be and gets the 'fuck, you again?' microexpression when we show up. Or is it just me? (I hear Richard's voice in my head saying "Just you Logan.")

Loudly asked why Richard wouldn't take us to Diagon Alley. I wanted to look at the brooms.

One of Jana's friends had told Jana that if she didn't like Torchwood, she wouldn't enjoy Dr. Who. I suggested that she hit that friend in the mouth. We had her watch the episode Blink. I told her that if she didn't like it, I'd drop the subject. After watching it, she started on the 2005 season. I think she's into it and seems interested in going to 'The Dr Who Experience'. In your face, Jana's friend who I don't know the name of!

Matt wasn't with us yesterday as he was out killing hookers looking for the one with a 'heart of gold' to give to his mother.

Found out that I can 'art out' after three rooms, and 'architecture out after three days wandering the tourist spots of London.

Discovered that Jana has flashbacks if you discuss 'noodles for breakfast'. She glares at you, then spaces out and mutters things like "I still hear the voices..." No idea what that's all about but noodles are out for breakfast. [Note to Jana's friends who read this blog - please don't mention it to her as it's very traumatic apparently.]



FINAL NOTE

I put the costs of things in pounds as we have folks from more nations than I can remember (30? 50?) that are reading this. Just go convert it to your local currency and prepare to be wowed. Unless you are Norwegian - they are use to things being more expensive there than in London! Gaaa!

4 comments:

  1. read you could find poptarts at Tesco or Asda in london sir.... Just make sure to eat them while supervised by someone who knows CPR or Heimlich Manuver. Tell Matt Gordon's Alive...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxaVxF1D0XM&feature=related

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for sharing this with us, Logan! And I did a currency conversion.. for some reason I thought the US dollar and pound could be exchanged for around one to one. That place is too expensive. Reminds me of when I went to NYC a couple years ago and spent $10 on a slice of pizza and a pop.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I completely fail to know Chris how you knew they were at Tesco. Indeed, that is where we found them ultimately. See the next blog entry for that story.

    Tim - yes, London is amazingly fucking expensive. If I didn't have friends there, I wouldn't say I thought it was really worth it for me in my situation. For rich people who can't be bothered to learn a new language, sure, groovy. Otherwise, I'd give it a skip.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Now that's it's been over a year and no one will come back and read this I can exclusively reveal that I was not 'into' the art, I was following a cute redhead around.

    Stalking, not a marketable skill.

    ReplyDelete

PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia | Michigan | Illinois |

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