London

My plan to have no plan is coming together beautifully. This devil-may-care attitude has led me to a sports pub between Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus where I have settled in to watch stage eight of The Tour “D” France. I got a call a few moments ago from Roberto who gave me a tip that today was a must-watch stage, so I decided to take a short break from my walking tour and hole up here for an hour or so.

In fact, I am thankful for the respite of this pub and an excuse to watch Le Tour. Sensory overload is a woefully inadequate way to describe the feeling I am currently experiencing.
Yesterday on my flight to London my jaw hit the ground as I flew over (let’s assume) Belgium and I first saw coastline. It was still on the ground when we made it to the coast just west of London and really aside from perhaps while I was sleeping last night I don’t think I have been able to wipe the wide-eyed, slack-jawed look off of my face. I am AMAZED!!!

London is phenomenal.

London is overwhelming.

My friends and hosts the Marquardts sent me off this morning with directions to take the train to Waterloo. From there I forgot everything they told me and just started wandering. I hung a left out of the train station following the flow of people and almost immediately got pulled into the National Youth Dance Festival where I was treated to an interpretive dance troupe who performed in, of all places, the public restrooms and then I watched some of the main attraction, an MTV-esque hip-hop competition.

After that I made it about a half a block before finding myself in the art installation Volume a mix of lighted columns and ambient music or sirens or bells… and from there it just kept coming. I couldn’t make it more than a block before I found my jaw on the ground again, the National Gallery, The London Eye, Piccadilly Circus with all of its lights and thousands of people, Parliament, Big Ben and on and on.

I managed to walk almost all of the city center today and have seen all of the major highlights I wanted to hit, saving a few museums and landmarks for a future visit.

Because my legs are so tired from hoofing it and my neck so stiff from craning upwards, I’ve decided that tomorrow I am taking it easy and booking a day tour, the kind with transportation and climate control.
“The words are the same, but I heck if I know what they are saying.” This is how my friend Dave described trying to understand British English. He’s got a point.

Here are some examples of fun little London-isms. Mind the gap not watch your step. Take away, not to-go. Cars have boots, not trunks. To let means to lease or rent. At the customs checkpoint in Heathrow the sign says EU Nationals to the right… Rest of the World to the left. I am finding all of this to be immensely entertaining. Despite what you might expect from the “rest of the world” sign, everyone I have encountered here has been gracious and helpful.

Foot note: Apparently writing on the train while productive is a bit too distracting to me as I learned when I missed the stop to David and Amy’s and ended up literally at the end of the line while working on this post, as a result I can now say I have been to Staines. From now on I’ll try to remember to look up.


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