Back from three days in London – I resurfaced in Bratislava yesterday morning at 9am after a sleepless night.
I got into London last Friday around noon and slowly made my way to the hostel. I stayed at the St. Christopher’s Inn (The Village) on Borough Street in the Southbank neighborhood. St. Christopher’s has four or five locations in London, I recommend this one. Bring a lock. Bring a towel.
Walked the Thames the first day, circling all the way around to the Tower Bridge (see photograph below). Under rolling-grey cloud cover I walked. An Englishman approached me to bum a cigarette, and used words in ways I have never heard before. Called me a geezer, he did. I extracted his central thesis, and moved on. I completed my tour of London the next day – officially – on a free New Europe tour, that picked up at the hostel and took our small group to Hyde Park. The tour left from there. It was a nice tour led by a Londoner (originally from Chile) who had a great ability to tell a story. I recommend the tour – it’s free, it’s simple, you can photograph, you tip at the end. Thanks again JP.
Sunday, I walked to The Regent’s Park, a beautiful park that includes Queen Mary’s Gardens. I walked through the center of the park, exiting near Camden Town so I could check out the markets over there. A great, bustling atmosphere full of young people, the Camden Markets are a dynamic experience. Go there to meet some young people, buy some cheap things, eat some cheap food.
Sunday night was a trip. It started normal enough – a couple of beers with a girl I met from New York until the bar closed at 2am. I had a 630am flight out of Stansted (the airport is about a 45min. train ride outside the city center) that morning, so I knew I had little chance of sleeping. Out on the street, the New Yorker began chatting with an English guy over a cigarette. He mentioned a great view of the city, which I at first passed on, finding it a bit strange that a young doctor would be hanging at a hostel and then offering a 2am view of London. But after some convincing by the New Yorker and the Canadian girl the Englishman was with (for which I am forever indebted), I gave in to my curiosity. It was no joke. Real doctor. Real access to a real hospital. He led us stealthily to the 14th floor where he opened a hallway window and led us out onto the cement balcony outside. From there he showed us most of London – then beautifully illuminated under the night sky. Remarkably knowledgeable about the city, the doctor pointed out a hospital where Florence Nightingale worked, the reasoning for the only tall buildings in London being concentrated in on area (soft ground), and an anatomical museum worth checking out. Wanna check out a Human Stem Cell? he asked.
In the laboratory he pulled up a human stem cell – he had himself been working on – on a computerized microscope. He explained the structure, the parts, the reasons for having it. It was recovered from a human umbilical cord. We were baffled, I was dumbfounded. Just one of those spur of the moment things that you’ll never forget. We ended up in his office where he offered us expensive wine he kept in the mini-fridge. We sat talking until four, and I realized I had but two hours to get to Stansted from where I was at. I sprinted from the Hostel to the bus stop, caught the train at Liverpool St. Station, and fell asleep on the way there. I woke up to a woman’s voice announcing the train’s arrival at Stansted Airport. I blurrily rushed through security and made the gate with five minutes to spare.
So it was that I resurfaced in Bratislava. I got to my bed at 11am Central European Time, and slept for eight-Monday-hours. I woke up with a smile on my face.
Imperial War Museum –http://www.flickr.com/photos/blavamac/4438360903/in/set-72157623632111054/
The Tube http://www.flickr.com/photos/blavamac/4442111772/in/set-72157623632111054/
Tower Bridge http://www.flickr.com/photos/blavamac/4439438762/in/set-72157623632111054/
The Pedal of the Obelisk I http://www.flickr.com/photos/blavamac/4439286000/in/set-72157623632111054/
The Pedal of the Obelisk II http://www.flickr.com/photos/blavamac/4438563461/in/set-72157623632111054/
The Houses of Parliament http://www.flickr.com/photos/blavamac/4439153608/in/set-72157623632111054/
The Regent’s Park http://www.flickr.com/photos/blavamac/4441344971/in/set-72157623632111054/
The Camden Markets http://www.flickr.com/photos/blavamac/4442149336/in/set-72157623632111054/
The Churchill Museum & Cabinet War Rooms http://www.flickr.com/photos/blavamac/4441310259/in/set-72157623632111054/
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