2004-05-04 : This place is kinda groovy actually!!
OK, so who wants to hear what I did on my first day here ?
After arriving – absolutely KNACKERED – and posting on my web log yesterday, I embarked upon my chosen Mission For The Day. When I was speaking to my travelled and learned colleague Winnie earlier in the week, he said that when one gets to London one should have a mission in mind to accomplish. This is far better than falling victim to your fatigue and just flaking out… that would just aggravate the jetlag, after all. Taking Winnie's word for it, I decided to make my first mission in London to go to Abbey Road and find the Abbey Road Studios and the famous traffic crossing. Having decided this and also deciding it to be a worthy and impressive task I asked Richie how I would best go about getting there. He suggested I walk up the road about 600m, and take a right. I figured that was the directions to the nearest tube station and that there would be more directions from there. No, it turns out that I'm staying pretty well next door. So, my brother Timothy (who managed to find where I was staying easily enough – we figured it best for him to come to me than vice versa, taking into account my state of tiredness and my legendary sense of direction) and I headed off in that general direction and shortly afterwards came away with the following photos.
Not wanting to look like a complete tourist, as well as not wanting to irritate the traffic too much with incessant pointless road crossing, I stayed over the far side for a few minutes and was fortunate enough to have a very loud tour guide bring a bunch of tourists through. Of course, he had a copy of the album cover with him, and went on fairly extensively about the “Paul is Dead” hysteria relating to McCartney being barefoot. He also pointed out that the front wall of the Abbey Road Studio is painted over about 4 times a year on average, which suggested to me that it was one of the most pointless places to graffiti in the world.
Having now fairly easily knocked over my goal for the day, Tim & I decided to head over to his place in Islington, which would have two outcomes – the first being that he'd be able to make it home after the all-night-boozeup he'd pulled in Brixton the night before and secondly it would allow Jason the Excited Tourist to catch his first ever London Underground (a.k.a. The Tube).
Arriving at Angel, via a couple of other line changes, we dropped in to a really cool pub and grabbed some lunch and a pint (Greene King IPA). It turned out that the pub we'd randomly chosen was a CAMRA pub – something that I'd specifically been told to look out for but fairly much forgotten all about… Anyway, I digress. After lunch it was a quick drop in to the Salmon & Compass to see Dingo (one of Tim's mates who lives here now), and then back over to Tim's place – one thing I've got to say about Tim's place is that they've got one hell of a cool view off their rooftop !!
After leaving there we caught the tube back in to the center of London and decided that seeing it was a Sunday of a long weekend (and the center of the city is pretty well dead on a Sunday apart from the occasional pocket of tourists) we would randomly catch buses around the place and generally check the place out. Not a particularly bad option for a sightseer, either ! Occasionally we'd get off the bus and walk around a bit, then grab some other bus, and this approach got us to some fairly neat spots, including up to the base of the weird-shaped large new glass building which many people have dubbed “The Gherkin”.
After a while it became apparent to me that my feet were really starting to hurt – either as a result of being shocked after 12 months of being deskbound, or possibly something to do with having left my boots on for the entire planeflight. At any rate, it was time to catch the tube back to Richie's, so we set off looking for a tube station. We found one, but it was shut. So we wandered along a bit more, turned a corner, and found ourselves looking at the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge – not entirely something I'd intended to head towards, but seeing as we were there we figured we'd look at it for a while. Amazing how many enthusaistic tourists the place attracts !
Off in search of another tube station, we discovered that the one nearest the Tower was shut too… however we were v. relieved to find out that the closures were due to maintenance on that line rather than us having missed the last train – it was only about 5pm for god's sake ! Imagine how excited I'd have been to find out that one of the biggest citites in the world had public transport that didn't function after 5pm on a Sunday !? Well as I said, this was an erroneous conclusion and we eventually found our way back out to Richie's, via a couple more line changes and a visit to the local off-license to grab some brewski's.
Tim eventually (sleepily; I think he was probably just as knackered as I was !) headed off back home, at which point Richie, Ciaran and I mosied over to a local pub for dinner, which quickly turned into a visit to the closest curry place when we discovered that almost all the other residents of the area had decided to convene at the same pub.
So to end my fairly nondescript monologue of yesterday's proceedings, I learned a couple of important lessons about London in only my first day ! Firstly, the weather's not ALWAYS shit – in fact yesterday was beautiful! Today was fairly awful, but then I've been inside all day today nursing my sore feet and reading up on things. Secondly, the Tube is a pretty neat way of getting around, and day passes can come in damn handy. Thirdly, it's never an issue getting hold of a beer in this city. And lastly, Lamb Madras in Australia is a comparatively mild form of curry, whereas here – at least in Maida Vale – it most certainly is not.
That's probably enough for today.