03-07-2002

Departed from the Copenhagen Airport. Voted best airport in the World, as would happen, I always enjoyed my visits with it. This of course due to the sense of purpose on display. Everyone knows what to do and where they’re going. Though I suspect one gets bored with this, if sustained over a longer period of time. Suffered a slight delay, which gave us a bit more time to enjoy a bit of shopping, and, with my Diners Club credit card well in hand, our access to a special waiting lounge. Finally received our call to the gate and thus were on our way. ~~~ Always a treat, flying. The airline being a rather cheap one (1600 kroner for two round-trip tickets), the aircraft itself had little in ways of luxury to offer, especially in the leg-room department, but to me, the concept of flying shall always present itself as a sort of luxury one is fortunate to have experienced first hand. Above the clouds is a wonderous place to be. Everyone should try it. Uneventful flight, apart from having someone’s white wine spilled across my clothes. Touched down at Stansted Airport at near Midnight. Not the eighth architectural wonder to this World. Had not been so foreseeing as to book five nights instead of four with the hostel; in my mind I had probably imagined us enjoying a quiet night’s rest in a vacant corner of the airport. Peculiar thought brought on my distaste for spending money, presumably. In this case, thought, this strategy backfired tremendously, as I was talked into investing in a double room at the Stansted Manor. For some hundred and fifteen pounds I suppose the complete and utter luxury offered by the establishment made it bearable. And it was a good night’s rest. Woke early and made a little enquiring round, before rushing back to the room to the cries of help from the girlfriend, disrupted in her slumber by the insanity of the wake-up call built into the television set, designed to increase in volume until reacted upon. Obviously the TV set in question never had to do with such an ardent sleeper; the morning news played to what I believe must’ve been close to two hundred decibel. Small wonder the hotel wasn’t evacuated. Promptly made our exit, thought not before yours truly had raided the room of assorted teas, instant coffees, shampoo, conditioner and the shoepolish. ~~~ Made our way on the Stansted express. A bit of a sorry sight, at first, the surroundings leading into the greater London area. A shambles, many of the cottages. Much preservation needs to be done, but obviously the occupants have found it difficult to cope, financially. The impression is the much greater by the fact that these were, originally, very beautiful homes, designed with a keep eye for detail. Then made our entry into London itself, where the homes became more up-to-date (and ultimately more boring) and the scene was set for some four days’ seeing of sights. The Liverpool Street Station served us well, guided us well on our way via a first visit with the tube, the London Underground Stations. As far as Lancaster Road St., within walking distance of our hostel. Learned the temerities of the address system by some helpful British woman. Thankfully so, or we could’ve wandered about for days. From a guidebook on London I learned how it takes a London cabbie some three years of training before he can call himself by that distinguished title – well, I also learned the reason why. ~~~ The hostel proved a noisy place, but then it’s a place for the young and restless, isn’t it, and from all the racket it still emerged as a very cheap accomodation indeed. Our little room was clean and the linen was fresh, not the Stansted Manor but it could’ve been far worse. We even had a little sink in the room itself, proved an excellent feature. Locked our passports in the hostel safe, and I received a re­turn-slip which I promptly managed to lose sight of (we did, no thanks to yours truly, managed to retrieve our passports near the journey’s end). Counted our money and were out to experience the city. ~~~ On a bus to Trafalgar Square. One of the traditional London double-decks, this, secured a front-row seat on the top deck and looked down on it all from above. Traffic was very slow indeed, so had lots of time to gaze. Incidentally was pointed in the right direction by an elderly lady, so very used to seeing tourists get on busses at the wrong side of the street. Never quite got used to this system of driving in the left-hand side. Brings up another point I’d better make lest neglect mention, i.e. how the city’s so multi-ethnic one might throw a stick and once out of every two hit someone with a non-English background, tourist or inhabitant. At any rate, arrived at Trafalgar Square. Famous for the great Lions and the statue of Nelson, so high in the air it’s worthy of a King or Queen. And all the pidgeons dropping their loads almost everywhere – had me wondering how many tourists find themselves targeted by the foul creatures every year. Walked our way down to the parliment district, where all the ministries and mens’ clubs are located. Big Ben, sitting on a corner of the parliment itself, I sadly found to be closed to the general public. Had wanted to get up there, reminiscent of Disney’s Peter Pan flying high above London. Instaed had to make do with a look of it, as well as the neighbouring Westminster Abbey Cathedral. Quite a scene, the district itself, and I found myself speculating why the British never had a revolution like the French; ‘Tale of Two Cities’ fresh in mind. I suppose they never went quite overboard like the French aristocracy. A brief walk along the river Thames, down to the Tate Britain Gallery, was a nice change from the tourist-flocked sidewalk. ~~~ The Tate Britain, named so after one Henry Tate who picked up the tab, another pleasant experience. Though naturally a greater experien­ce for the girlfriend than yours truly. She’s in her element, wondering about the materials used here, the light applied there, etc. A bit too experimental for me at times, still there were one or two works I liked and would’ve refused to bring home if handed over. Started to tire from thence, of course by way of my habit of taking in so much, causing an overflow error of my memory, so to speak. The consequence of which is a tiredness and restless­ness I can rarely shake. Just hope I was a proper companion to the girlfriend in her enthusiastic state. From the Tate Britain to the National Gallery, also located at Trafalgar Square. More for me to look at; will best describe it as ‘conventional art’, by the likes of Monet, Czesanne, Bonnard, Renoir, and many others too great in number to mention. Bought a few lesser-scaled replicaes, post-card sized actually, to frame and put up in the new apartment – meant to educate myself on the painters and their various styles, however unlikely I’ll ever find use for that bit of knowledge. A really great gallery/museum. Will try not to de-romantize it and make out how much monetary value the combined works hold. ~~~ On the subway towards the London Bridge, closest station to the neighbouring Tower Bridge. Were lucky, we two; the bridge opened to a steamboat looking to go further down the river. Only happens some five hundred times a year, and then it takes place for the fifteen minutes we happened to be present. Not the biggest draw-bridge in this world, perhaps the most elaborate. Internationally recognized at any rate, was glad to have seen it. Walked along the newly restored south bank of the Thames, back to the subway and home. Emerged at the Notting Hill Gate Station, closest to our hostel. A nice neighborhood, this; Kensington. Houses worth some million pounds and more. I cannot believe the housing prices here; certainly I cannot help the thought how they’re bloated like baloons. For the sake of the economy, I hope they remain at their level. But odd it does seem, that a couple should spend more than two thirds of their combined income on their rent, if not more. Saw that film, ‘Notting Hill’, just before we left, and the scene was not altogether unfamiliar. Never got a chance to move about in this district, will have a go at it next t
ime around. To rest around Midnight, in a bed that had a peculiar hamock-like quality to it. Noisiest thing I’ve ever shifted and turned myself in, though fortunately the girl­friend sleeps from everything. Tired from the impressions and the walking, I fell asleep almost instantly.

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