June 15, 2009 at 8:06 am
“London or Paris (choose one). Which city did you like better? Why” – Mary Jo
Hmmm, this is like asking me which piano-based musician I like better: Ben Folds or Tori Amos. One is a flame-haired, kooky, piano goddess and the other is a charismatic, geek, rocker. I like them both for very different reasons.
I like that they speak English in London, or at least some variation of English. Despite the fact that there are no trash cans downtown, London seemed cleaner than Paris. I found the London tube to be easier to navigate and prettier than the Paris Metro, which was grimier and not as well labeled. I also disliked the little rectangular paper tickets you have to use in Paris, which littered the ground at many stations.
However, London was much more expensive than Paris. By the time I was ordering my first lunch in French, I was relieved by the much lower prices. The French food was better, allowing me to sample tarts, chocolate bread, crepes and other naughty carbohydrates. Paris was also home [...]
June 11, 2009 at 7:45 am
Before my recent vacation, I suffered from Paranoid Traveler’s Syndrome. Now I’ve come down with a case of I’ve Been There! Disorder. When I read an article about the Obama’s visiting London, I shouted “I’ve been there!” I scanned the text of the article and then pulled up my mental map of London to locate the pub where they ate. When I read about their trip to Paris, I knew exactly where Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower were in relation to one another. Now that I’ve been to these cities, I look at photos from them differently. I don’t just see the Arc de Triomphe, I think about the crazy traffic circling the building and how you can get there by taking the Metro and what the view down the Champs-Elysees looks like.
I first experienced I’ve Been There! Disorder after a trip to New York after my college graduation. When I watched David Letterman on TV afterward, I’d clap my hands when I saw the theatre front or the Hello, Deli, thinking, “I’ve been [...]
May 15, 2009 at 5:00 pm
I was crammed up against an Indian man in a business suit and trying not to bump my nose on the hardback novel a woman next to me was reading when I came up with a piece of advice none of the guidebooks mentioned: Do NOT ride the tube at 9:15 in the morning if you can help it.
After my fellow sardines and I arrived at Hyde Park Station, I took a look at the Wellington Arch and Aspley House and then walked towards Harrods. The perfumes, clothes and jewelry were of no interest to me. Instead, I headed straight for the food hall aka the Dionysian feast of abundance
They have practically anything and everything you could ever want to eat and never knew you wanted to, like ostrich eggs.
I got some mint chocolate gelato, and then had to vacate the premises to eat it. I’m not sure if this is because Harrods didn’t want me getting their floors sticky, or if it’s because in Britain they charge you a smidge more if you dine [...]
May 14, 2009 at 4:16 pm
The chiming church bells heard from my room, which I originally thought would be annoying, are quite handy for telling the time. Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. It’s five o’clock! So this is how people managed before watches. I climbed down from my bunk without stepping on my bunkmates, who are two lively girls from Amsterdam that I met yesterday when putting away my things. They invited me out with them yesterday evening, but I turned them down because I am not a clubber and never will be. It was nice having the offer though, and in some parallel dimension PastaQueen is blogging about her crazy night out on the town with two Dutch girls.
Instead, I grabbed some grub in the hostel kitchen where the oatmeal was surprisingly delicious. I was expecting it to be crap, but it was a figgy, raisin-y bowl of goodness. Last night I heard two men in the hostel common room talking about how prices go up the closer you get to the river. This point was proven when it [...]
May 13, 2009 at 1:08 pm
I started out Tuesday by not killing my roommates which is always a good way to start the day. Their near death was not due to the fact that they turned on the lights at 4:30 in the morning, but because the bunk beds at the hostel look like this.
I was assigned the top bed, assuring I get a workout not only by walking all around town, but also by simply going to bed. I took off my socks to get better traction on the bed’s siderails and climbed down without waking anyone up. I am an acrobat! I suspect this maneuver is included in a typical Cirque Soleil audition.
I’d carefully laid out all my clothes and a baggy of my pills the night before, so I was able to quickly change clothes and walk across the Millennium Bridge at eight o’clock in the morning with hundreds of other Londoners on their way to work. I was amazed we were not all blown off the bridge and into the Thames. If I’d known it would [...]