Tuesday, March 15, 2005

London called, and I answered

This is for Jess, who tried to call me last night but it was busy forever. (I swear, I was only on the phone after 9pm!) And for all the rest of you who want to hear about my SPECTACULAR weekend in London! I apologize now if it sounds like a list of stuff we did, but hey, I'm the best at that.

Let's see, let's see. Thursday night, I ended up taking an ICE (Inter-City Express) train to Schönefeld that stops at Berlin Ostbahnhof and needed to take another train to the airport station. Yes, I am aware that is about half an hour of backtracking (with the waiting time at Ostbahnhof), and it actually took LONGER to get there than had I taken a normal RB, but I wanted to get there a bit earlier than the RB (Regional Bahn) would have gotten me there. There weren't any unreserved seats on the hopper (well, there might have been, but I couldn't be bothered to check), so I stood by the doors, and a German man started to talk to me. (I know! A German making voluntary contact with a stranger! Amazing!!) He asked me where I was going, if I was British, where I was from in the States, etc. And he complimented me on my German, which I think is the best compliment a person can get, sometimes. I mean, he had no reason to tell me that my language skillz were any good, but he did!

I got to the airport, where we had to wait almost an HOUR after we were supposed to take off to board the plane. Then I got to Stansted, where I had to go through passport control to actually get in the country. I walked through the airport to get to immigration and I walk up to the non-EU area where all I can see are Orthodox (I think they were all Hassidic?) Jewish men, all dressed in black, with their hats and their earlocks. They were all in the queue as I walked up, and then from out of nowhere another huge swarm of them were behind me. I feel absolutely horrible for saying this, but I was definitely waiting for the punchline. Anyway, on a not so comical note, the men who were directly behind me weren't so much about honoring the personal space and it was a bit frustrating to deal with. But, I got through the line and all was good. Anna and Tom were waiting at Liverpool Street for me (YAY!) and then we headed back to no. 26 where we chatted til Tom went to bed (the boy DID have to work, after all) and then chatted some more.

Friday included plans to go to the post office and the British Library. Once we stopped watching tv and got off the couch, that is! The British Library was amazing -- we saw an original edition of the Book of John (or maybe James?) from the King James' Bible, the Magna Carta (it was smaller than I expected!), two original pages from Goethe's Faust, original Beatles' lyrics, etc. It was really quite amazing to see so much literary history in one place! Then we planned to meet Tom for a drink after he was done working, but my crazy desire to take my passport out of my bag forced us back to no. 26 for a bit. Eventually we headed to The Castle for drinks with Tom, Louise and David. It was lovely chatting with Lou, who used to live at no. 26 with the rest of them but has since moved. Anyway, after the drinks (I had my first pint of Old Bob!), we were in the mood for some food, but someone had thrown out the Rocket Pizza menu (tragic!), so we went to the Indian place that supposedly used to be a public toilet. Toilet or not, the food was quite tasty. We had an assortment of... well, I don't remember the names, but I know it was good.

On Saturday, Anna and I watched more tv (cooking shows! Sweet!) and waited for Tom, as we had plans to go on the boat tour of the Thames. It was a beautiful day, not too chilly, lots of sun, funny tour guide on the boat. Saw a bunch of bridges, the Eye, Parliament, lots of other great stuff. Then, we had to head back because it was the FA Cup quarterfinals and Tom's team (Southampton) was playing David's team (Manchester United). Unfortunately, Southampton (whose kit looks like Where's Waldo) lost, 0-4. But it was still fun to watch. Then came the Mexican Fiesta! (Ole!) Lou, Anna and I had the brilliant idea to cook Mexican food on Saturday night, so after a quick trip to Sainsbury's, we started the fixin's. It was deeeeeelicious, exactly what we all wanted. Then came a rousing game of charades (or, press your arse, if said in a proper Surrey English accent), in which we used the pink category of Trivial Pursuit answer cards for our clues. Quite brilliant, actually. We had such lovely things as undertaker, Michael Jackson (surprisingly, Vinod was able to pull it off in about a second without Crossing the Line!), Silence of the Lambs, David Blaine, etc. We didn't play "those from English speaking countries" vs. "the other half of the group" (there were 4 of each, oddly enough), but instead split up as to how we were sitting in the room. My team was ahead the entire game, until the very last round, where we lost by one. Talk about heartbroken.

Brick Lane was on the agenda for Sunday, and I was able to buy three pairs of lovely long stripey socks (well, one is aqua and turquoise argyle). Then we ventured back to The Castle for proper Sunday lunch with the boys and yet more football on the big screen. This time it was Newcastle vs. Tottenham (Tim's team). Despite their best efforts, Tottenham was defeated, 0-1. We stayed in the pub for a bit longer (I think I spent more time in the pub this weekend than I've spent in my whole life!) and after being unable to convince the boys to cook dinner for us, having made the fiesta the night before, the girls and I headed to the carry-out for some mushrooms (the legal kind!) to put in the risotto we decided to make.

A short backstory -- in the pub, we started playing that game where, given three people, you have to decide who you'd marry, which you'd have a one night stand with, and which one you'd throw off a cliff. At one point, Anna suggested Tom, Tim, and David, but Lou put her foot down and refused to answer. Well, I asked it again, on the way to the carry out, and with a few stipulations, got them to answer. Naturally, we were standing in the carry out discussing the merits of each boy, we hear "Fancy running into you ladies here" and it's Tim with his friend Mikey. We're not sure how much he heard, but I know I dissolved into giggles and had to leave the store.

We finally found the mushrooms at another store and came back to no. 26 to cook our risotto. The boys were playing video games in the living room, so we had to resort to eating on the stairs in a lovely Italian-bistro-esque theme, if Italians ate on the stairs. But we did come up with the insight of the night: The way to a man's heart isn't through his stomach, it's through his eyes. The way to a WOMAN'S heart is through her stomach. Note to all male readers: cook a woman dinner and she'll be yours!

The time to leave came all too soon -- Anna walked me to the bus stop, I took the (K)Night bus to Stratford station to catch the coach to Stansted, and... waited. The coach did not come, so eventually a few people got together and arranged cabs to get to the airport. The only highlight of the journey back was sitting next to a really cute Irishman on the plane. He was on his way to Berlin for business, he actually KNEW where Ohio was, lots of lovely good things. But, now I'm back, but Spring is in the air, so I am happy!! Yay!!


Mike said...

Testing my post to see if it goes through... otherwise I'm not wasting my time writing out A LOT, like I did earlier...

Mike said...

You've got to be kidding me, the one time I do a test... sheesh.

Anyway, sounds like your time in London was lovely. Although, I will have plenty of questions for you in the morning as it is after 6 and I have yet to leave work... gah! I do like the story about the Jewish men, the three people game (which in the states called Marry, Fuck and Kill... or maybe that's the rated R version). And thanks for clearing up the mushroom adventure... because that sounded sorta sketch. Hope all is well, talk to you in the morning (well, my morning anyhow). L'wonkie