Wednesday, May 20, 2009

London & Crawley

Bus ride from Wales to London was 8 hours, a piece of cake after all the monster-rides in Mexico. I didn’t plan to go to London so soon, but i didn’t find a couch in Wales and hostel prices were unbelievably high so i thought to hell with that, changed my Morocco flight dates and bought a bus ticket to London. Watching the hostel prices in London the night before made me pretty sad, paying 25 pounds per night for an over-populated dorm room was not fully within my budget. So i was super glad when Luca offered that i can stay in his place. Me and Kaidi met Luca and his friend Dario last year in Morocco and we've been keeping in touch ever since. Luca lives in Crawley, small Tartu-size city just outside London. But the train connection was exceptionally good, so it was a breeze to commute. The night i arrived he cooked me pasta carbonara and i didn't even feel so bad anymore for cutting Italy out of my travel-plans. To add to my luck, Saturday was his day off so i got a personal tour in London with samples of all the best beer places and beers. Visiting one certain porterhouse* got stretched way longer than originally planned and we arrived home long after midnight, both in a particularly jolly mood.

The first time me and Ylle went to Morocco, we couchsurfed Puneet’s couch in Girona, Spain. Me and Puneet (that's him -->) have been keeping tabs on each others ever since and because now he lives in Bristol, UK, he came to meet me in London. I like couchsurfing because it brings together like-minded people, fellow travelers who have traveled a lot and are adventurous and curious; whereas crowds in the hostels are often quite random. Puneet is one of those remarkable like-minded people whom i'm lucky to have as a friend. I met Puneet while being a couchsurfer, but i've had a pleasure to get to know some exceptional people also while hosting. Me and Jevgeni have been hosting for about a year and during this time we've had variety of surfers (guests) from very many different countries. But of out those ~ 25 people that we've hosted, the most impressive ones are somehow consistently from really far corners of the world which makes the casual visiting kind of hard. I will however take a chance here and send my warmest greetings to all the cool couchsurfers of ours.

Meeting new people is in many ways fascinating. While traveling you can adapt to very many different roles, all depending on your mood. Arriving in a new place i can be a tortured-soul-seeking-for-solitude, book-nerd, all around party girl up for anything etc. But after a while certain types of people start to repeat and now it already hangs on your wish/ability to carry on idle chit-chat with strangers to gain 5 new incredibly shallow friendships from every new hostel. You don't have to spend excessive time together with somebody to see if the person is interesting for you. At some point i kind of adapted a fixed approach to new acquaintances, because my expectation were rarely met and i didn't want to waste all my free time chatting to another stiff-minded German, super carefree Aussie or somewhat narrow-minded American. The stereotypes became very quickly very real. I like people who i can really talk to, not just only chit-chat about nothing; and people who also know how to listen - that’s a very rare skill, one which i hope to posses one day. I think most people i meet are neutral, i don’t really feel bothered to get to know them better. Me sometimes dismissing people like that greatly infuriates some of my socially more enlightened and tolerant friends (greetings, Kaidi) and while this attitude might make me a tad antisocial, it works out well for me. I like certain types of people with qualities that are not very mainstream and it's sometimes even physically hard to make small-talk just for the sake of being polite. I rather have 15 good real friends who are truly interesting and intriguing people than 600+ virtual Facebook buddies. Some time ago i was trying to be "nicer and better" and to get along with everybody equally well. By now i've reached a conclusion that there's no point trying to be somebody i'm not: if you don't like me the the way i am, then it's likely we're not going to be friends anyway, so there's very little point for me to try and be more pleasing for you. Except, if you happen to be my employer :). Works out very well and i think i have more friends than ever before.

Anyways, when Puneet and i met in London, i got to be the guide this time. I took him to the very same porterhouse where Luca and me where kicking back drinks just few days earlier. London is a bustling and bursting organism, where everywhere you look something new is going on on. The central area of London is lovely, though personally i prefer less crowded places. Eating in London seemed somewhat cheaper to a traveler than Ireland, maybe because the choice of different cuisines (including street fast food) is bigger and you can actually choose to eat in the sushi-bar, cheapest things are not anymore burgers and fries. I didn’t have very much time to wander around alone, turned out i had too much social engagements, but i definitely would like to return there. But just as in Dublin’s case – i would like to return there with a proper budget, so i could go to see a musical, make a pub-tour, go to a good jazz concert, grab occasionally one of those old fashioned but i hear expensive taxi cabs etc. It’s stressful to calculate all the time what you can afford and what you really shouldn’t even dream about buying.

And now - i'm going to Morocco! I really can't wait anymore. I swear, if i as much as see one more burger i might lash out! But hot spicy steaming tajines, delicious mint tea .. mmm, now that's another matter :).


* I do recommend the porterhouse:

The Porterhouse
21-22 Maiden Lane
Covent Garden

They have beers represented from pretty much every country in the world, including from Estonia. The interior is very interesting, the rooms and tables are on many levels of the house, you can find very nice private corners to chat or party with your company. Sometimes they have bands playing and the food menu is quite decent, though maybe a bit pricy.

Picketers in the central city of London

Focused taxi driver

Spare phone booths waiting to be installed

Coexistence of old and new

Guard at the Buckingham Palace


My expenses in UK, 31st March - 14th April 2009 (minus the days in Ireland):

transport - 108 GBP
food - 89 GBP
drink - 27 GBP
hostels - 60 GBP
sightseeing - 22 GBP
souvenirs - 15 GBP
internet + phone cards - 10 GBP
other - 58 GBP

plane tickets, London-Belfast - 21 GBP (about 362 EEK)
410 GBP = about 7065 EEK
(around that time the rate of 1 GBP = 17,23 EEK)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails