London: Day 1

So, I’m flying to London. I decide that the best thing for me would be to leave my car at the Alewife T because it’s reasonably close by, and definitely cheaper than parking at Logan. I call ahead because I wanted to make sure I could leave my car at the T for two weeks. The first number I call that’s listed on the MBTA website (I tried it twice) immediately hangs up on you. So, I try another number from their website. I get someone who doesn’t know the answer to my question, who then forwards me to someone else who doesn’t know the answer to my question (but that didn’t stop him from explaining to me the intricacies behind how the MBTA contracts parking out to other companies, subsidizes them, etc.) That guy gives me another “main” number which I call, it rings and rings and no one answers.

So, I just assume that I can park there for 2 weeks, and drive in. The sign outside says the maximum stay is 7 days, or you’ll get towed. I pull over, and talk to a guy working at the booth. He has what I believe to be a Jamaican accent. I say “Is there anywhere around here I can park long term”.
“Long term parking, yes upstairs.”
“The sign says there is a 7 day limit.”
“7 days, yes.”
“I need to park longer.”
“How long?”
“14 days.”
“14 days? OK.”
“OK, I can park here for 14 days?”

So, I park at the top of the garage, half thinking that I’ll get towed, but at least knowing that someone who works for the garage told me it’s okay. I can only assume (1) He knows they don’t actually enforce the 7 day limit, (2) he owns part of the company who runs the garage and appreciates the extra money I’ll pay, (3) he doesn’t give a shit, or (4) He’s making a note of my car and how long I’ll be gone so he can steal it.

Hopefully 1 or 2 is true. 3’s okay. 4 would be unfortunate.

Travel went pretty smoothly. I flew from Boston to New York To London. I ate dinner at Logan before my flight to New York. While waiting for the flight from NY to London, I decided to have dinner again. Once I got on the flight (now 11:40pm), they started serving dinner. Being so late at night, I am surprised they served dinner but they did, so I ate some more. An hour or so before we landed (about 4 hours after dinner) they turned the lights on and we had breakfast. It was bizarre. I wish they would have just let us all sleep and skipped the stupid breakfast. Or, just served breakfast instead of dinner.

Once in London, I waited for an hour or so to go through the passport check, found the train I was supposed to take to the station near my hotel and got on. Being in a foreign country sucks for a lot of reasons. 1) You have to do currency conversions, 2) You have to do distance conversions, 3) You have to do time conversions (they use a 24 hour clock, and are 5 hours ahead of the US), and 4) You have to do power conversions. All of these various adjustments are doable, but the fact that you have to think about them makes you feel stupider when going about your daily business.

I got off the train and had no real idea where my hotel was except it was “300 yards south” of the train station. All of the “info” booths seemed to be closed, so I took my luggage and began walking around the town. A half hour later I hadn’t found my hotel or a free map of the area (I had no local money), so I went back to the train station in search of free information. I eventually found someone who pointed me in the right direction. While I was roaming about, I felt glad that I was on this trip by myself at this point. If I were with someone else, probably anyone else, after a half hour of walking I probably would have gotten nagged at or otherwise scolded for my poor preparation. On the plus side, I had developed a fairly good understanding of the area.

After settling in, I decided to go out and explore a bit. I found a bunch of young drunk people and figured I’d follow them to where the fun is. After a few minutes of walking, we ended up in a park where still more young people were walking. It was clear that we were going somewhere where things were happening. I took a quick look around to make sure I wasn’t accidentally walking to a British KKK rally or something. I saw enough ordinary-looking people to assure myself I wasn’t going somewhere out of the ordinary.

It turned out the park I was in was Hyde Park and the reason everyone was going there is because the Red Hot Chili Peppers were playing. It was an outdoor concert so you could see the show (albeit at a distance) without paying to get into the fenced-off area. A few scalpers offered me tickets but I declined. The primary reason is that, as I’d mentioned before, I know I would feel stupid doing it. They’d give me a quote in British Pounds, I’d stand there stupidly trying to convert it to dollars, and then if I wanted to give a counter-offer I’d have to similarly act retarded. Then there was the fact that at this point I had 2 20-pound bills in my pocket so I knew I’d have no leverage for negotiating below 20 pounds (and 20 pounds being roughly $36, that was more than I wanted to spend for a concert 50% of which I could get for free by standing outside a fence). I stayed outside and caught some of the show from there.

3 thoughts on “London: Day 1

  1. Too bad there was no informacion touritique there.

    I assume that when they served breakfast four hours after what was your third dinner on the night that you ate that as well, eh?

  2. Pingback: Captain’s Log » Small World - Personal Web Log of Tom Lianza

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