Currently I am writing from an incredibly hip coffee shop in Bath, England, called Society Café. It’s so hip, there’s a bike hanging on the wall in front of me! I was served my coffee in a milk steaming pitcher, and I’ve already made friends with the baristas working today. What great fun coffee people are!
This post can hopefully serve as a little update to my life after Iceland, especially in my endeavors to become any bit of a local in London.
As I mentioned in my last post, the Tube has been incredibly good to me. The fact that I was able to locate and use the tube right after flying into London speaks volumes to its ease of use. I would say that the signage and directions are pretty forgiving to newcomers, as they prevent one from looking around aimlessly, going back and forth from the same spot to another, and blatantly looking like a tourist. Although my mannerisms might be moving towards “local”, my two pieces of luggage with a saxophone strapped over one of them did a pretty good job of pegging me as a foreigner, I’d say.
Upon leaving the tube, I had a decently long walk ahead of me to the hostel. One problem, though, was that I hadn’t taken a look at where my hostel was in the station from which I would be exiting, and I hadn’t the time to get a new SIM card for my phone. I started walking in a direction that I thought would get me to the right place, but ended up in an area that looked like this:
“This is not my hostel…” I thought. Although the Porsche and beautiful houses led me to believe that I was in a very nice neighborhood. I promptly exited where I ended up, and found a wonderful couple that led me in the right direction.
The only problem with this long journey from the tube was the toll this path took on my luggage wheels. Alas, I believe that I’m due to destroy the large bags that I use for the “50-pound checked bag” each time I make a big journey somewhere. The right wheel to my large black luggage bag has promptly been ripped apart by the countless steps up and down to sidewalk and periodic cobbles. This reminds me of the time when my large bag ended up with a gaping hole in its side after five weeks in the Dominican Republic. Perhaps this is telling me that I should pack a little lighter.
After finally making it to my hostel, I was happy surprised to know that I was staying in an old historical house that was literally in Holland Park. The hostel scene is quite interesting (at least this one), where it’s slightly reminiscent of the co-op culture on campus at U-M. It seems that many people travel in groups to hostels, or some people are quite good at making friends in hostels, too. I, on the other hand, tend to keep a little more to myself if I’m in an unfamiliar situation, as was the case earlier this week.
Despite keeping to myself, I did happen to meet two memorable people. Firstly, was a man from the west coast, who decided that life was too short to not celebrate his birthday in a memorable way, so he decided to travel to Europe for his past two birthdays. His name was Glen, and he had an MBA from Harvard and managed to land a job doing housing allocation and consulting for the State of California in Silicon Valley. I also met a woman named Lucy. Oddly, I thought she was someone who worked at the hostel and I tried to hand my breakfast token (what I pre-paid for to get breakfast the next two mornings) but she was basically saying hi to me instead. She used to be an accountant, but had a large realization that her job and her life vision did not line up. She’s now on her way to tracking a new philosophy, on her life and certain ideas that apply to what she believes the future of this world.
I would say that I’m two for two with meeting truly inspiring people who want to change the world in their own way. This could be, hopefully, the proper precursor to London, as I’ve been told that it’s a global hub that attracts many different but all bright minds that help me discover new and different ways of thinking.
Upon leaving my tourist days in London, I’m now on to Bath, Oxford, and Bournemouth to fulfill some time as a tourist in England. I wasn’t really sure of where I should go in England, but my reasoning is as follows:
- I want to make it up to Scotland, however I’m waiting until I have a long weekend *and* when I get my 16-25 railcard, which will give me a 1/3 discount on a (much more) expensive train ticket than what I paid to get to these three places.
- My parents are spending time in Italy as I write this, and I figured that I could get a little piece of Rome by going to the Roman Baths and structures in the first town, Bath (quite obviously named for what I just mentioned).
- I’ve been told that Oxford is beautiful, and I want to feel the history and aura of academia that (should) exist at Oxford. I will keep you all updated on what I do feel there 🙂
- Many who asked about where I wanted to go were told “I’d love to spend some time on a coastal town, to wake up by the sea…” So, I am fulfilling that statement by hopping down to Bournemouth for a day before I head back up to London.
In ending, I’ll leave you with a picture of what I had for dinner last night. I tried to find an Italian place to eat, and I stumbled upon this place called Sotto Sotto, renowned as the best place to eat Italian food in Bath (as according to Yelp (Fr. Joe, you would be proud!)). However, due to their great popularity, they were booked solid – not even for a table for one! Luckily right next door was a Spanish tapas restaurant, called La Perla. As odd as it was to eat dinner in a slightly nicer restaurant by myself, my Kindle (and the wonderful story of Harry Potter) kept me company.
Now it’s on to Oxford in a few hours!