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Michael’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 10 May 2006

Location: London, UK

MapEntry 31 - First Impressions of London (April 5th - April 10th)

London - what comes to mind in the first few days? £££, trippy honey, the tube, £££, 40ft high elephant walking down Pall Mall (did the trippy honey work?), £££, Manopoly, £££, rain, £££, rain, £££, rain. That about sums up most of it.

I rocked up late on Friday night, and really haven't done a whole yet to date (Midday Wednesday), and have basically decided to do as much free stuff as possible, and do all of the activities that cost the £ when I'm earining the £. Seems logical enough. But here is a simple run-down of what has occurred.

Woke up Saturday, and it actually seemed like a nice day. After getting groceries (£) and washing my clothes, I headed to Trafalgur Square to look for a 3-4 story high elephant. Well, by the time I got there it was raining (what a suprise) and I waited around 25 minutes to see this elephant stand up.

Okay, let me clear this up - there was no trppy honey. A group named Royal de Luxe put on the worlds biggets outdoor theatre, which had been going since Thursday afternoon when the crashed a pinecone (spaceship) into some road in London. This elephant is actually a puppet, and there are heaps of people riding it, pulling levers etc. to get it to walk. First the 8m high girl started walking around, then the elephant finally got up and wandered around. I thought it was only gonna be round Trafalgur Square, and had enough of watching so figured I'd go see something else.

I wandered toward Buckingham Palace (in the rain), and too the wrong road and ended up at Westminster Abbey. Little did I know I was also looking at Big Ben - it is safe to say I was expecting more. But I did get to hear it toll 4pm. I didn't bother going in, having decided to wait till I'm earning £ - it will be there when I get back, I'm sure. I headed along the river Thames (which I didn't realise was there - I didn't have a very detailed map) and got to Buckingham Palace. Had a look at that, in the rain, and then decided to Picailly Circus, and catch the tube home from there. I got to Pall Mall, and the road was blocked, and then the elephant came around the corner... now it looked cool. It looked so much bigger when it was walking down the middle of the road, and not just out in the middle of an open area. They had little props set up everywhere, with a row of 6 cars further up Pall Mall destoyed when the spaceship had landed. It really was a city wide play... pretty cool.

That night I headed to the Defector's Weld hotel (sorry Spen, didn't meet Shar) and had a few pints (lets not convert to £) with Cherie from the Anzac Tour who was having going home drinks with the crew she met on her Contiki Tour.

Sunday - not much at all....

Monday - Met up with Kristy and went to 1st Contact to organise my UK bank account (after having Subway - trust me you don't want me to convert it from £). Sat thru possibly the most boring 3hrs of crap just trying to get a UK bank account set up, hoping like hell the trippy honey Anzac Biscuits would kick in - no good, it was a scam and the girls lost $40 for half a kilo of honey! The meeting did prove useful though, cos as of half an hour ago, I got a call from the bank saying I had been approved and the card would be ready to be picked up when I got back to London. Kristy and I both agreed we were happy not to go and do the meeting by ourselves. Also to come out of the meeting is my new UK phone number:

To message from outside of London:
+4477 4862 0944

To call? Not sure? Maybe dicth the + and wack in 0011?

Whilst in London, ditch the +44 and throw a 0 in the front. How I'm gonna run with 2 sim cards I don't know. I think at this stage it is still (much) cheaper text back to Aus using my Aussie number. So I will have to check both for a while - and I KNOW that while I'm not in London, it will be cheaper on the Aussie number. However, if you want to call the UK number, feel free (cos it is for me!). Again, once earning the £, I will happily spend the £, and will put the Aussie sim away till I leave the UK (will let you know when that happens).

Yesterday I caught up again with Kristy for a celebratory snake-bite at the Walkie on Shaftsbury Ave for lunch. She'd just got a job as a town planner on the other side of London. We wandered past an art gallery which a couple pieces from the guy named Banksy in London who is a 'stenciler' dude, bit of a grafiti man, and a huge prankster. Look him up if you get a chance, but he has a habbit of sneaking 'art' into the worlds biggest art galleries. One included putting a stuffed rat, with sunnies, backpack, and spray can, in a glass box into a museum of Natural History in New York, with an official piece of paper describing how the rubbish being thrown in the sewers in NY and the loud hip-hop music have created a new generation of rat. It satyed up for 8 days before the curators found it and figured it was out of place. He has also painted things like ladders and windows on the wall at teh West Bank in Israel... guy has more balls than I do apparently.

Then we headed back down to the Thames, as I had missed it a few days earlier, and saw Westminster Abbey and Big Ben from the other side of the river, and it actually looked better. We jumped on a train and went to Camden Town, which is... well... drugs anyone. I hadn't been off the train more than 3 minutes, and had been offered more drugs, using more different names, than ever before in my life. Aside from that, the market was pretty cool, even if decidedly gothic. I have never seen more goth shops in the one place ever before. By they also sold lots of other stuff, much of it hippy stuff, but also the largest range of printed T-shirts I had ever seen. Some were better than other obviously. Oh, how I long to earn the £, I am in need of some new clothes.

On the way home, I headed past Virgin Megastore to have a look at the selection available, and boy what a selection it was. That is one thing they do well in London - embrace hip-hop. They had more bootleg CD's than I had ever seen before, and just heaps of CD's that were so far off mainstream, you'd never see them in Aus. Talking of music... tomorrow night I'm off to see some Norweigen funk band that apparently gets a bit of play on the J's. Can't think of the name, but will let you knwo after I see them.

Well, that will do for now, it has been a pretty cruisy time here, and I think I may actually enjoy working here, maybe. Till later, hope you are all having as much fun as I am!

Michael