Friday, December 20, 2013

English Bananas

You a'right?
Bananas (probably not) from London!
Leaving Rzeszow was not easy for me at all. I had to re-book my bus to Warsaw for an earlier one since the weather was really bad thanks to Hurricane Xavier and I was afraid that my original night bus would be delayed like the previous night's bus was and I couldn't take the chance considering I had a morning flight. So I woke up late, having slept late writing my last post on here and I had to rush like crazy, re-booking my bus and last minute packing of tidbits with lots of help from Donna. We'd originally planned to go to Market Square one last time but sadly it couldn't happen, well not for another few years!

So I reached Warsaw late that night and was supposed to stay with this wonderful girl I'd just met over Facebook but unfortunately she was in Krakow for the weekend so 2 of her boyfriend's male cousins were to host me instead. I was nervous because I'd never met them and it was the first time I had to live with boys - alone too! I got lost with my 30 kilo bag on my way to the house in the dark and cold and they came to pick me up and they were complete angels. So attentive, sweet and chivalrous! I didn't feel uncomfortable at all and we were up pretty much all night talking and eating and drinking and it was so much fun. At one point I painted their pinky fingernails too hehe.

The next morning, having left my bag in the safe confines of that amazing cafe looking house, we headed to Modlin and they didn't even let me pay for my ticket and I was force fed breakfast even though I can never get myself to eat in the mornings. Once I reached Modlin, I met a guy heading also to the airport and then had the feeling that for the next 9 days, I would barely get any female company and I was so right!
That's how I actually remember the whole experience - I got to spend so much time around boys I started to act and think the way they do a bit. I used to be really shy for no real reason before, but this trip brought about some much needed confidence and helped me understand quite a lot of things about boys, one mainly being that they're way simpler than originally thought and actually very easy to understand.
This was my first official long trip on my own as well (technically can't count Poland because I had Donna) so it was really quite an experience. I fell completely in love with the tube system and will keep forever with me the map I used to navigate around the multi-coloured lines to get from A to B as my phone is shit enough to not support the tube app lol, but I think I'd have used the physical map anyway because of how much more fun it is to figure routes out on your own.

So I landed in London on Sunday afternoon which was awesome because that meant that my old college friend, again a boy, could receive me at the station and we could hang out thereafter. I got my 7 day Oyster travelcard and after leaving my bag home we headed to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland which was soo amazing. Great music, and so Christmassy the whole feel of the place was. I was on a crazy tight budget so I couldn't go on any of the rides but I'm definitely going back in a few years to do all the rides! I just spent £150 for all the 9 days I was there, excluding airfare, and now that I think of it, that doesn't sound too tough considering I didn't have to pay for accommodation and I did take 14 meals worth of food with me from Poland, and, my friends were awesome enough to cook and treat me to dinners! After Hyde Park we headed to Picaddily Street and walked around lots and went to China Town, saw some street dancing and then headed home, a nice ice blended fruity Costa in hand.

I'd planned each day so I would be doing something so as to cover as much as possible in the time I had so on the next day I went to Victoria & Albert, Natural History, and the Science museums. I took sooo many pictures and walked so much as these museums are huge - especially NHM which I also liked best. The cutest little schoolchildren were there too, small blue or green eyed light haired little babies with their sweet English accents asking cute questions. The NHM was of the most entertainment value. I especially enjoyed the dinosaur and waste exhibits. V&A was nice too - it was the first one I went to and I absolutely loved the modern art section. By the time I got to the Science museum I was pretty worn out and thankfully it was the smallest one and I found it to be the most interactive and I played some games and saw this creepy Internet exhibit. After my very museumy day I went to Nandos with the same host/friend for the first time and loved it too.

The next day was the best day ever. I went to the Harry Potter Studio Tour and it was so GOOD! I was a bit let down by the smallness of most of the sets because in my head they were all HUGE but then it's even awesomer to think that cinematography (or whatever) is able to give us that larger than life impression. I must have taken like 500 pictures and at the very start when they showed us this HP video I actually cried with excitement! And also because it was such a great emotion inducing video (I'm not a sissy okay). I tried Butterbeer as well and liked it too. The best way I can describe it is - butterscotch ice-cream melted with soda. Then I went to the HP store and picked up some postcards, a pencil and a deathly hallows shaped key-chain for my sister without whom I wouldn't have gone for the tour at all. After a very long emotional and excitement filled day at the studio I was made to go to Arsenal to do a price check for a jersey and I didn't get to look at the stadium as it was pretty dark (and I honestly didn't bother) and deserted too.
I got home to my first proper meal so beautifully prepared in weeks - Thai chicken curry with rice and Sprite and I ate like such a hog. It was such a nice way to end a very nice day. My friend made such good company and we talked a lot about college days and it was so fun. We've both changed since then so it was nice to get to know each other better again. Also he made tea exactly like my mom does!

Wednesday, I headed for my first walking tour called Alternative London and I must recommend it to anyone who visits London and for those Londoners ignorant enough not to know what a stock-ful of amazing street art their city has. It was a fascinating tour, and the tour guide was an artist himself and I took so many pictures, I liked everything I saw! Even stuff he'd not bother talking about because they were apparently "shit." God I'd make the worst art dealer, so non critical and no eloquent taste to speak of I swear haha.

After my tour I headed to Barclays which took me forever to find to deposit the money for my ticket to London and I realised a few days later that this bank is pretty much super close to many of the tube stations. And then I went to the Museum of London which I honestly can't even remember what was like but that's probably cause other memories loom larger and it didn't really suck. Or maybe it sucked so bad it's forever forgotten till I happen to look through my pictures and stumble across one from there lol. And then I headed to the British Library which I absolutely loved. They had this center for budding business people and I went through the success stories and found such creative minds at work, it was so inspiring too. I might consider starting a business myself if my ideas are feasible enough! After the British Library I went to King's Cross solely for Platform 9 and 3/4, got my picture taken and happily went home after another long fulfilling touristy day. And then I took my friend for a meal at the always full Indian place super close to where we were staying and I was so happy to eat authentic Indian food after months of just cold cuts and bread and packets of ramen. Where we were staying was a very Indian area and I honestly didn't like it so much. Didn't feel very Londoney to me and I'm so glad that my friend will be moving out soon and it's just a one month thing. But the room was decent, I called dibs on the top bunk naturally and it was always so warm. Back in my dorm in Poland the radiator never worked and our window was broken so it was like living in a fridge so this room was such a blessing.

The next day, Thursday, I headed to Covent Garden where I saw the best street magic show ever and then to the Christmas market there where I picked up a bib with a pug's face on it - and wasn't judged even for a second when on asking I told the man selling it that it was for me! The entire stall was full of pug stuff - backpack, bag, t shirt, bibs (the cheapest rofl) and it was heaven! The other stalls were also so delightful. This entire day was all about window shopping and I did not do much else. After Covent Garden I went to St. Paul's (not to be confused with the cathedral) and sat for a while in the completely empty church and it was peaceful and quiet. And then I walked around a lot and reached Primark on Oxford Street somehow and ended spending around an hour just on the ground floor (which was HUGE) just deciding what I'd get in case I ended up saving any cash. And then I walked to the British Museum and to be honest by this point I'd had enough of museums so I wasn't really looking at the stuff. Just idling and walking around and glancing at things, but there were some things my saturated museumed mind did notice and so I did take a few pictures there as well. After this, I went to Camden town and was there for the rest of the day. It's so big and there's so much to see and the stuff you get there is exactly my kind of style (haha I apparently have a style now), very hip and colourful nice little articles and clothes and accessories. I also enjoyed the Horse market and met a friend with whom I went to a nice little cafe where the staff doubled as acoustic rockstars and entertained us so well. I got home to an amazingly cooked Indian meal of chili chicken with rice and Sprite again courtesy awesomest host ever. I hogged again as my only lunch was 2 little mandarins and a cup of minty hot chocolate at the cafe.

Friday was my most touristy day so far and I went on a 6 hour long Free Tours by Foot all in one walking tour which was so comprehensive and I just had the best time. I saw : Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Green Park, St. James Park, St. Paul's Cathedral, London Bridge, London Eye, 10 Downing Street, Trafalgar Square, pause to breathe, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, River Thames, Tower Bridge, Tower of London and the Bank of England. Also saw some kick ass buildings like the Heron, Gherkin, Walkie Talkie, SHARD! Our guide was Canadian but you could tell how passionate she was about London as she was really good at guiding and knew loads. I made some new friends, fellow solo travelers like myself: one girl (finally) from Ukraine, one guy from the Netherlands and one guy from Canada. It was so fun! Friday was also the friend I was staying with's birthday so after this forever long tour I headed to Westfield (the biggest mall in Europe) to meet with him and hang before he took me and some of his other friends to an Indian place called Dishoom which imo was very British Indian, not as authentic as I'd hoped but a treat is a treat is a treat so no complaints! :P After dinner, we decided to go to a club called Picaddily Institute. It was to be my first ever club experience and I was so excited but when we got there I just wasn't into it anymore and didn't really enjoy the blaringly loud rather outdated music and even though I drank a bit, I couldn't get myself to enjoy it much. But it was still a cool experience and it's nice to think my first club was one in proper London town!

Saturday morning I left that house and my sweet host and went to stay for the rest of my trip with one of my oldest friends from school who's gay and lives with his partner. I was so happy to see him after all those long years, we used to be so close before, I'm actually on a group picture hanging on his wall!!! and for the first few hours all we did was talk talk and talk and he cooked some pasta. His house is so awesome it's like a dream and I would never ever go out if I were him. We were supposed to go to Cambridge but we ended up not going since by the time we'd reach the sun would set so there was no point. Luckily, I didn't really have more on my agenda for my trip that needed covering so we sat at home and played lots on his Wii, watched some Archer on his Netflix, played Cluedo and some card games, and then went out to Tower Bridge as I'd not crossed it the previous day and then he took me to a house party hosted by one of his closest work mates. It was a fun party, full of British Indians and just 3 white guys. The host, a Sri Lankan Brit woman was very warm towards me and fed me lots and made sure I was comfortable for all of the time, well till she got drunk lol.

I could only sleep at around 5 am so I woke up super late on Sunday and decided to just have a lazy day instead of the planned trip to the Cathedral to catch the Choral Evensong service. We just hung out all day playing golf on the Wii which is amazing fun btw and I used the laptop and ate a lot. Their living room is so cool - there's a rowing machine, a gaming computer den ish place, lots and lots of PC games, lots and lots of DVDs, books, massive TV, xbox, PS, Wii, iPad, laptop, EVERYTHING you can ever need to never go out again. Which is so important to have considering how crazy unpredictable London weather is. Sunday night my friend took me to an Indian place nearby and the food there was very nice, so authentic and I loved it. I had butter garlic naan after ages and I was all ear to ear grinning.

Monday, my very last day, was again a pretty lazy day. I wanted to wake up early and head to the National Gallery but again, I slept too much. I blame the air mattress! My first time on one too and soo comfortable. So I just walked to Liverpool Street Station for my bus to the airport and did some shopping at Lush (YAY!!!!) and sadly couldn't go to Primark because of time constraints. But no regrets, I have good reason to go back there now! :P Instead went to a pub called Dirty Dicks and had some coffee before taking the bus to Stansted and reaching Warsaw.

Warsaw was way colder than I anticipated and I was one coat short (I left my dad's over-sized waterproof with the second friend/host) so it really hit me. But me being me, I went and had a cold McDonald's chocolate milkshake with some lovely new Polish friends I made on the train from Modlin to the city center. Because I missed my normal timings' bus to the house, they helped me so nicely and I took a night bus and got home. I finally got to meet the girl I'd just spoken to over Facebook and who'd been such a life saver having given my big bag the warmth of storage in her house for those 9 days, and she was so nice too. Also, me being crazy, I went a little over the top excited seeing a bath tub and spent a good hour in there in super hot temperatures and here I am now, sick, coughing up blood with a lower respiratory tract infection. How awesome!

My trip back home was so shit because of being sick. For the first time I absolutely hated flying, I didn't watch a single thing on the inflight entertainment, couldn't taste the food, was over emotional and randomly crying or feeling bursts of joy, and my ears! Aah both times at landing I just wanted to DIE as the air pressure was so bad.

I had a great time in London and I'm so grateful to both my hosts and I wish I wasn't so tight with my budget, I definitely want to send them gifts when I'm better able to! Finally, I'm home now and it's my second night here and everything is as it should be. When I came, I was feeling so strange. I felt like I was seeing everything for the first time and couldn't stop examining my house or my mom, or my friend. And now in 3 hours I'm leaving Mumbai again to go to Shirdi for 2 days which is why I HAD to write everything and have it updated or after Shirdi I'd have forgotten or it'd seem further away. Stupid OCD. But I really am so jetlagged. I couldn't sleep till 6 AM last night but I should try tonight since car sleeping makes me so car sick. Ok bye.

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