Saturday, March 25, 2006

March 21, 2006 London, Day One:

These are my posts that I wrote while in London, but I'm just now getting around to putting them up. So keep readin'! I promise they won't be boring.

Land in Heatherow at about 7.15 am. There is no trouble while going through customs. I love seeing all the people. But my first impression, "Why are we still at O'Hare?" The two places look remarkably alike. (Later*In fact, most of the time in London did not feel much different than being in Chicago. I told Dr. Fusaro that "I don't know what I was expecting, but what I saw was not it." It was only today (Saturday) that I realized what it was (see below).) Yumi meets me at the airport; I feel a bit car sick on the way into London. Gerry was right; it definitely is smaller than one would expect (see below). At St. John's Wood Tube stop, I panic for a second when my Citi credit card won't work. But Yumi takes me to the Citibank branch on Oxford Street and it turns out that it was just the machine didn't like my card. (yay Citibank for actually being helpful!) We make our way over to the Pimlico stop on the Victoria line and walk the two or three blocks to my hostel. Yumi and I then part. (Later*In my notes about what I wanted to say for this post I wrote "Victoria Hostel-German girl at check-in, blonde, white blouse. The room is very clean. And colorful! Whee!") I go to a hole-in-the-wall cafe down the block and around the corner for tea and the woman at the counter looks at me as if to say "why are you here?" There is a crazy man talking about the music playing over the speakers: "Love is what we are feeling right now. I bought this album, but no other song appeals to me." He orders scrambled eggs on toast with tomato. I feel like faking a British accent to fit in; instead I talk softly so I won't be noticed.
Chimes: cream colored walls with mahogony baseboard and chair rail. Oak seating and tables...slightly too small for any adult to sit very comfortably. I feel like an intruder here in this English cafe; can't talk about finance and crumpets (yes, I know I am generalizing), lamb shanks and the Empire, the recent Mary-Ann murder (thank goodness I saw that copy of the Metro on the Tube) and the virtues of one tea over another. Waitress in all bloack except for her green and white vertically-striped short apron--perhaps Russian or Polish? She, like me, doesn't speak with a British accent, but even so, she is more comfortable and in place here than I am. (But why should I be surprised that I don't fit in and also expect it to be different? Why expect it to be different?) I drink still mineral water with lemon and a pot of English tea (yuuummmm) with cream and sugar. I eat a lovely "Pimlico Pot"-mushroom soup with herbs, brown bread and fresh butter-all for £5.30. I think that my writing is wearing out my welcome and leave.

*Saturday* After talking with Nadia for a while yesterday and today, she handed me (basically on a silver plater. Thanks Nadia!) the "not what you would expect" idea that it is because of all the imports from the states. Gap and othe chain stores, the US business model, style of advertisements, (in Paris) an orange Barney equivalent, and so much more. And part of it is that it is smaller than you expect.

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