Hawaii Oh-Six

Happy New Year!

I'm back from my little adventure in the United Kingdom largely intact. It was only a 8 hour journey door to door from Palmers Green to Heidelberg. I'm not sure how it managed to take so long given that it was only a 15 min drive, 30 min train ride, 1 hour flight, 2 and a half hour bus ride, and a 30 min final bus ride to get here. Add on 1 hour waiting at Stansted, another hour at Hahn, and I'm still missing an hour of time somewhere. Luckily, it didn't really feel like an eight hour odyssey, and I spent most of my time in a comatose state during the journeys. I plan to read, listen to music off the shuffle, and generally make the most of my time trapped in a tin can hurtling along at unnatural speeds, but I usually just end up going into some form of mental hibernation, staring at the back of the seat in front of me. When I get to my destination (or close to it) I just snap out of the coma, and act relatively normal. In fact that's what my superpower would be - the ability to get off planes, trains and automobiles at the right spot (that's assuming that I am on the right train to start with - if I can't get that basic stuff right, then I've got no chance). It's not that bad a superpower, and is better than invisibility at the very least.

I put this to the test when I had my first nights out on the town in London. Having lived in London beforehand, I assumed that I would have a certain familiarity with the surroundings, and would just be able to walk around at night purely on instinct. I managed to get lost every single time I went out in London. The first time I managed to get lost was with my cousins - to be honest, they can pretty much take all the blame for that - where they were meant to get me to Temple station so I could meet up with Will (What do you call the brother of your sister-in-law?) and Liz (Girlfriend of brother of sister-in-law). We ended up in a nice, but strangely busy pub (for a Thursday night) in Covent Gardens (or somewhere close to there, I was lost). Getting home was also ridiculously easy as I managed to get one of the last tubes home, wander around outside the tube station looking for my bus stop, and jumping on a quick bus back.

I popped up to Leeds just before Christmas (4 hour coach ride - hooray!), and caught up with Andre, who is living up there for a little while, in between travelling around lots of places. It was nice to traipse around the Yorkshire countryside, and by the end of the two days up there I was feeling really quite rural. I even had a taste of one of the local ales at room temperature and ate a Yorkshire pudding. Check out the linked pictures for pictures of the Yorkshire countryside, Andre and Sarah.

Emboldened by my success in getting home safely on my own earlier, I went a little further afield (Embankment!) to catch up with Vienna after Christmas, and tried to figure out how to get home from there. I actually managed to get lost in SOHO on the way home from Embankment, where my little one-pub trip turned into a slightly longer journey, when I stopped into the Blues Bar. It's quite a nice place - and has a very student-like feel to it. It's a bit like one or two pubs/bars here in Heidelberg actually. It was this night that I finally experienced the magic N29 bus. In Sydney I had my magic bus which would take me home late at night (the 288 every hour up till about 3am), and I had found my magic bus here too. It left Trafalgar Square every 10 minutes or so, and would drop me off just outside my cousin's house. This would have been perfect if I was a little more familiar with the landmarks leading up to my uncle's house. Looking out of the window on the bus I could have been anywhere in London, and sitting there, passing all these shops, I was having serious doubts about my ability to pick the stop to get off at. Even worse, if I fell asleep, I could miss the entire suburb, and not even know I missed it. Since I was also sneaking onto the bus without paying for the ticket (I had a day travelpass, and I wasn't going to pay for another ticket), I thought I should keep a low profile and not ask for help. It all turned out well when my bus-stop senses went all tingly at the right time (with a bit of alcohol dampening) and I got off just after the perfect bus stop. I resisted the temptation to put some underwear on top of my trousers, and strolled home.

London public transport was thrown into complete chaos due to the strikes which they all decided to have on New Years eve. It almost convinced me not to go out, but I took the plunge and braved the tube system. Even running at lower capacity, it was still remarkably easy to get down to Islington. A number of stations were closed (any of the Tube stations around Palmers green), and there were no people selling tickets, but the tubes still managed to run regularly. I met up with Andre and Sarah, and had a great time over the evening (I took the camera, but didn't take any pics) at this pub with a live band in the basement which was a bit loud at times (are there any good sound engineers left?). We decided to head back relatively early after it turned 2006, and started to make our ways home. I finally got to try out the free public transport which they had been so kind to give away over the New Years evening. At first, I thought it was a bit of a scam - offer free tube travel, but have all the tube stations closed (which they were at that time of night) - but I gave them the benefit of the doubt when I found out the buses were free. I quickly changed my mind again when I saw the crowds of people waiting for a bus; there is no way they could have charged people to get on the buses, and still manage to clear everyone out of there in a few hours. I think that the transport authority had no other choice but to make the buses free. Even with these attempts to improve the flow of people, it still took me about 3 hours to get home through the ludicrous traffic of inner city London (which was probably worse than the traffic in Rome at 1 am).

As Bri will be happy to know, I saw some squirrels in London. I don't think they are the same as these evil ones, but I took all necessary precautions.


Bhautik Joshi *

wtfburgers? tingly? alcohol dampening? still, glad you had a good time :P

Hiren Joshi *

It's an allusion to some classic literature (Spiderman)!

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