Friday, June 28, 2013

The Experiment Begins

Ophelia and I arrived in London a couple of days ago and I had hoped that the documentation of this experiment would be posted to this blog in “real” time, but this is not twitter where I must be brief and poignant in 140 characters or less. I can’t share all that I would like in regards to my accommodations, the locale, history, art, literature, fellow hostellers and of course the emotional ups and downs that I will undoubtedly encounter in one sentence increments. I must share everything that I feel, see, touch, taste and think no matter how embarrassing, boring, hurtful or politically incorrect it might be and it cannot be done or summed up in brief and therefore I will try to post the chronicles of this experiment as expeditiously as possible.
      As I said before, Ophelia and I arrived in London two days ago around three-thirty in the afternoon. We parted ways at the St. Paul’s tube station in the City of London. It was a quick farewell, just a peck on the lips and a hug. I had imagined a more emotional scene that what it actually was and I was really relieved that it was quick. I was just too tired and sore to exert any more energy into the matter as I am sure Ophelia was too. There was a slight twinge of anxiety in the center of my chest though as I watched the train depart the station with Ophelia still aboard; her destination unbeknownst to me. But all anxiety melted away the moment I reached the surface of the city. It had been nearly sixteen hours since I stood outdoors and just as long without a smoke. It was grand breathing-in the fresh English air before inhaling the toxic fumes from a long anticipated puff of a Camel cigarette. I got a nice head rush from it and I stood there for a bit appreciating the head change and the beautiful architecture of St. Paul’s cathedral.
      In the shadow of the grand cathedral stands London St. Paul’s Hostel, a former school for the choir boys of the cathedral. I arrived there shortly before five p.m. and booked a bed in a four-bunk, male only dorm for $32 bucks American per night. Way more than I wanted to pay so I only booked it for two nights. I had no idea where I would go after that, but two nights at that price was all I was willing to pay. The hostel does have many amenities, but no communal kitchen and the restaurant on the premises, I read, serves crappy food for five pounds. I don’t want to pay that much for English food. Who does? The hostel is very clean and the staff is fantastic, but the majority of guests were families and elderly folks which changed the vibe that I am accustomed to at other hostels. Suffice it to say, I didn’t hang out much at the hostel. I was beat beyond belief, but couldn’t really sleep. I took a nice crap and shower before heading out to a bar with my Norwegian bunkmate.
      We hit a trendy bar filled with young Londoners who were consumed in some boring-ass soccer game or rather, football match. He left after a pint, but I stuck around for another as there was a gaggle of young ladies about. They showed no interest in me whatsoever. No matter, their asses will only grow exponentially which tends to happen to English women. I split after the second pint and headed back to the hostel for some sleep. I was so out of it that the bells of St. Paul’s cathedral, which toll every fifteen minutes, couldn’t stir me from my slumber.
      The first full day in London was spent in dreamland. I woke at about five in the afternoon quite hungry. The restaurant at the hostel was as far as I wanted to go in my state. The food was mediocre at best. Not worth the eight bucks American, but it did the job. After another shower I dressed and headed out in search of a pub. Found a place around the corner from the hostel. Nice place and situated on the corner of the street at the end of a building which curves around like a crescent. The pub was bustling with men in suits. The only female in the joint was the barmaid. Beautiful Irish gal named Kelly or Kellie. I believe she was happy to talk to someone who wasn’t wearing a white- collared shirt and nice pants. We chatted all evening, that is, when she wasn’t pouring pints for the businessmen. We talked about travel and work and all the other things commoners tend to talk about. She is leaving for Ireland for “holiday” in a few days. She was born in Ireland, but now works in London and she is just taking a small vacation from bartending. I decided there and then to leave for Paris in the morning. London is just too expensive and the dollar isn’t worth crap. I’ll be sure to stop back by on my return to London for the trip home. I would very much like to see Kelly one last time before heading back to California.
      I woke early and headed to the bus depot. I opted for the bus as the price for a one-way ticket to Paris via the train is $160. The bus ticket was only $49 including the ferry trip across the channel. It was a nine hour bus and ferry ride, but it was great seeing the English and French countryside. What really sucked was sitting next to a very stinky Pakistani guy for the whole bus ride. A chick with a backpack had boarded after me and I had hoped she would sit next to me, but she chose a seat on the opposite side and this smelly fellow took the seat next to me. Just my luck.