Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Eighteenth Word: London

London - 
Chief city and capital of England, L. Londinium (c.115), often explained as "place belonging to a man named Londinos," a supposed Celtic personal name meaning "the wild one" (www.etymonline.com)

So, like a guest ale on at the local pub that you've never tried, here am I, Alex, to treat you to tales of shenanigans and misadventures of the trip that Adam, Mike and I had in Longdong. Adam and I traveled all day by plane, train and automobile to get to London where we met Mike. It was like we had the band the back together again. We looked it too, what with our stylish facial hair and their hip black glasses. We said our yo mans, hugged, did our secret handshakes etc. and started walking to the hostel. Thus commenced the walking of the trip. We did a lot of walking.

We got to the hostel and napped a bit before heading out and exploring our area. We were in the Southwark borough, pretty close to London Bridge. We found a pub with a good happy hour special and drank some real ales (slightly chilled, lightly carbonated English brews, cask conditioned and served. Oh, okay, I won't steer off course yet.), had some dinner and ended our Thursday night at a place called the Trinity, an empty-ish pub next to our hostel. It was there that we ran into Dana, a "short-blonde-druggie-hipster-chick" as Adam described her. She was an American that had studied there a couple of years and so knew the city, and was returning to visit some friends. She was super talkative and excited to give us a local's guide to the city. She gave us her map and circled a bunch of places that we should go, for example: Holland Park, an adult playground, with a zipline and a huge tire swing where peacocks run free; Primrose Hill, where we can see great views of the city; Fabric, a pub/club six stories underground with an amazing laser light show. Okay, I guess I don't remember any other place she told us to go, because those were the only places we were really interested in. 

Friday was our big day. We wanted to hit Holland Park for the zipline and peacocks, and since it was past Hyde Park we'd go through that too. After that would be Primrose Hill, and after that we'd grab a drink with Audrey and her boyfriend Lee at near Victoria Station, where they were coming in to London to visit with Lee's aunt for a few days. So. We started walking from our hostel to Westminster Bridge to see that and Parliament Square and Big Ben. Beautiful. Tons of people. From there we walked through St. James's Park and Green Park, then into Hyde Park. On the way we got a frisbee and played next to a lake. It was a beautiful day. We found this tree that was like a house, and we hung out in it for a while before we kept going. So many monuments to writers, important philosophers, Albert, King whats-his-name, the war, yer mom, you name it. We finally got to Holland Park, after going through I don't know how many neighborhoods and parks and stuff, and it seemed like basically a normal park. We found a map of it on a sign and found where the "adventure playground" was, and headed that way. On the way there was an orangery, which I'm still not sure what that is, but it looked cool - old buildings, modern sculptures, giant chess board, you know, normal orangery stuff,  I'm sure. 

Finally, after walking for probably 4 hours,  we arrived at the playground. It was a bit of - okay, a big - letdown. Tons of toddlers with their late 20s early 30somethings mums. Yeah, there was a zipline. Yeah, a big tire swing. But we were hoping to bring beers here and laugh at peacocks fighting while playing on giant adult-sized seesaws. Me and Mike made the best of the tarzan swing while trying to glance away from all of the moms' stares before we said bye-bye. Looking back, we maybe shouldn't have trusted Dana so much. What with all the talk of acid and ecstasy, I'm pretty sure the peacocks must've been a hallucination. Oh well. We saw a lot of London we'd probably never see otherwise. We made it to Primrose Hill (by bus) and that was pretty. At least that wasn't a hallucination. 

Friday night (ha! and you thought our day was over! shhyeah, right!) we wanted to visit the CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) Pub of the Year 2010-11, The Harp. It was near Covent Gardens, and we couldn't really find it. We had gone to another pub before that and we were kind of lost as to which direction the pub was in. I was on the phone with Julia and she was on the computer figuring out where we were in relation to the pub ("wait, so you're still on Long Acre?!") and so eventually we just gave up. Continuing down the wrong street, we found this little tiny alley (only about two feet wide) and walked down that, just because. It opened up eventually and there were people drinking in the alley and a door that was propped open. We went in and found the coolest little pub, with 10 or so real ales on and sweet decor. We went out front to see what pub we were in, and of course, you guessed it. The Harp. *Brrrriiinggg!* We stayed there for some nice Sambrooks ales, but because we couldn't find it, it was almost closing time, and couldn't stay long. We left to have a beer on a footbridge over the Thames. "Epic," as one passerby commented.  On the way back, we were taking photos of Mike doing embarrassing things like jumping off of things and stuff, and Adam took the camera and ran off down some stairs. He said he thought we were following him, but we went around to meet him at the bottom. When we got there, he wasn't. We called, and waited, and got mad, and worried, and eventually after an hour or so, took a bus back to our hostel. When we got back to the hostel around 2:30, he wasn't there. We started really worrying then, like what if he got mugged, etc? There were some bikes you could rent by the hostel, and we jumped on them and headed down the route we thought he probably took, maybe down London Bridge, and around that vicinity. No luck. After an hour or so we decided Mike would head back to the hostel and text me if Adam was there. He was. Asleep. Awesome. What a sweet Friday, huh? 

Saturday. Since I've already written an entire book and you stopped reading up before the Harp, I'll put this in nice easy bullets.
-Westminster Abbey costs £16 per person to get into. Plus a really long line, not worth it, for us.
- I saw a zombie dwarf running down London Bridge. Freaky.
- We walked a ton again, this time down Piccadilly Circus, Regent Street, and Oxford Circus, just kind of shopping and seeing things. Got some cheap stuff at Primark. Busiest, scariest Primark ever. 
-We went back to the Harp Saturday night and saw Matthew Fox (from LOST) there. Cool.
- I guess that's it.

Overall, London was awesome. By Sunday we were limping like senior citizens from all the walking, but I think for the most part, that was okay. We saw a lot of London for how short a time we were there, and we had a lot of fun. London's got so many different parts to it - an old, majestic part, a cool hipster part (though we never did make it to Fabric), a modern business-y part, a super commercial part with tons of street performers swallowing balloon animals and stuff. And there's tons of cool parks. But you know, any city remotely like that I think is gonna be cool when you're with guys like Adam and Mike. You can't help but have fun, even when your feet feel like they're gonna fall off. 

Say What?
London : Longdong, Fundon... anyone got any other good ones?  

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