Hello to the "New World"
Trip Start Feb 22, 2005
47Trip End Feb 11, 2006
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Now, I've been to London on quite a few separate occasions now, I think this last one was the fifth time this year that I've dropped in and I must say that I'd been making a pretty good go of not really seeing anything while I was there so this time round I was determined to be able to leave London and say that I'd done London so I set about getting the mandatory tourist tasks done. After some careful consultation with my Lonely Planet I set aside a few museums to check out for a start, I did manage to get to the natural history museum on my last stay so I was able to tick that one off the list and I decided to knock probably the most famous of them off next, the British Museum. On a slight side note, one thing that the british have definitely got right along with the English Breakfast is free museums and when you get inside, even if you're not a real museum buff you definitely get value for money (figure of speech), as they certainly are some of the most impressive museums I've seen anywhere, especially the natural history and the British museums. The latter some might be uncomfortable with as it is basically a display of the empire's plundering ways, as the museum will freely admit, being that most of the artifacts have been, for lack of a better word, stolen from the lands that they once conquered. All in all though it makes for a very interesting although tiring few hours, or days depending on how deep you want to delve. I'll make one more brief museum related comment regarding the imperial war museum which I also visited. Apart from the usual military memorabilia including old guns and planes and what not and some very interesting and informative displays describing various aspects of military conflicts from WWI onwards, the most interesting thing I found was a small computer monitor linked to the War Graves commission data base. Up until a few months ago this would have got a second glance, but when I was out at my great aunt June's farm with my grandparents a couple of months back, Gramps was telling me about his uncle Harold who was killed in the trenches in Belgium during WWI, I'd had no idea that I had any relatives who'd died at war so I found that quite interesting especially while looking over some old photos, letters and even Harold's dog tag. So anyway, when I saw this computer I thought I'd look him up and sure enough there was a listing for Harold Yeats, with the date of his death and the cemetery and grave site in which he's buried. Whether or not anyone else finds that at all interesting, I thought that was pretty special.
Back to more livelier subjects, I also devoted some time to just wandering and trying to get a bit more of a feel for the London lifestyle and I found myself wandering through the streets of Soho and began to get more of an understanding for just what it is that draws so many people to London. I've certainly found that the more time I spend in London and the more I see, the more I begin to like, at first I thought of it as a fun city but still just another city and couldn't really see the appeal to living there apart from the money but now I can see that it would be an amazing place to get to know as there is just so much variety. You can wander around Westminster and see all the grand buildings like Westminster Abbey and the houses of parliament, you can check out the pomp and ceremony of Buckingham Palace and then you can head out to Camden town and mix with the hippies, the punks and the drug dealers while testing out your head for heights with a pair of the seemingly must have 6 inch thick soled boots. To add to that still you've got the myriad shows of the west end going all year round, countless live music acts on every night to suit anyone's taste, the list goes on.
I'll finish with the tour guide crap now and get back to more of what I actually did. On the Thursday night, I went with Josh and his mate Dredgie to check out the Herbaliser, which is a british jazz/hip hop act which I'd heard of but didn't know any of their music. While it wasn't cheap by aussie standards (20 pounds) it was a terrific show with DJ, lots of horns and even a guest appearance from a Canadian MC who noone had heard of but got the crowd going and was even nice enough to stop for a chat with us after the show. The next night, I organised to meet up with Jamie and head out to the docklands to knock back a few bevvies with his workmates who lived up to the cultural stereotype of the London work scene, basically 1 englishman and 4 aussies, nothing much to report from that particular outing just the usual boys night in. Following on from that still, I met up with Jamie again and Vanessa in Camden town, and while I was waiting for them to show, I enjoyed some free religion from a homeless looking guy complete with dirty bushy beard who didn't look entirely sober, I also politely declined several very friendly offers of skunk, hash and marijuana and like I was saying before, it all just adds to the atmosphere of the place. So anyway after we'd grabbed some cheap market grub and checked out the crazy raver shop we headed on out to the sticks (Ealing Broadway if you know london at all) to meet up with the other Yachty buddy Nadja who was doing her bit for the community, working a sausage sizzle for the lighting of the lane fete with her work buddies. So anyway after we all eventually got together it was the usual catching up with old mates and comparing our travel stories and for me and Jamie in particular getting all nostalgic about our experiences in China and Turkey. Alas, it all eventually had to end as we headed home and I said goodbye to them for the last time as I won't be seeing any of them until probably at least the middle of next year when they start to come home.
My final day in Europe was prettly laid back, after a bit of a sleep in Josh and I headed back out north to see June again on the farm and to start to catalogue all the old naval books that are left behind from our Great Grandfather, but that's another story. I was glad that I was able to catch up with June again before I left as I had a great time getting to know her properly for the first time just a couple of months back with nanna and gramps and most likely won't get to see her again for at least a couple of years.
Anyway, that pretty much wraps up my last week in Europe. I was definitely excited to get on the plane to head out here as after 7 months in Europe I was ready to move on to something new and certainly being in Canada now, I'm really excited about the next couple of months before I get home. All in all though to sum up my time in Europe, I thouroughly enjoyed my time there, I managed to get through without any real bad experiences, the worst things that happened, such as losing my camera, were entirely my fault anyway so I can't really complain about them. I've met loads of great people along the way and have been lucky enough to meet up with some great friends from home, Miles and Bec, Madi and Siran to name a few, to add to that I got to see my parents and my grandparents and it was great to have Josh in London to drop in on from time to time and I have to thank you and Alex and all your housemates for putting me up all those times. For now though, it's the beginning of the end for my adventures, just two more countries to conquer in two months before I can get back to the comforts of home as well as of course the trials of home (basically uni, that one's gonna be tough).
Till next time, see you later.
P.S. I forgive you if you fall asleep before the end, I did pack a bit more than usual into this one.