2006-05-19

Welcome to the UK.

Location: Kingston Upon Thames, London, England
Status: alive and well

The easier part of the beginning of my journey is just about over and the real journey is about to begin. I am about to go pick up my new bicycle which will hopefully take me all over Europe. However, let's bring things up to date first, shall we?

I flew out of Narita on the morning of the 16th of May after a few complications at the airport. Asiana Airlines wouldn't let me board a plane to London without a ticket showing that I was leaving the UK. They said I would have trouble at immigration and could be denied entry, so I was basically forced to buy a last minute ticket from London to Paris with the intent to cancel it and apply for a refund after I got through customs. That cost me about 75,000 yen. Ouch.

The flight itself was fairly uneventful and rather long. The meals were, of course, terrible. I got to watch King Kong, which wasn't bad at all, and Big Mama 2, which wasn't particularly good. Anyway, after a long time of fighting off sleep (I did doze off for an hour or two), I finally arrived in Heathrow and breezed through immigration. I went to get my ticket canceled and apply for a refund, and found out that it couldn't be done from the airport, and I had to go to the office in London.

From there I took the Tube to eastern London to meet up with my first CouchSurfing host, a young guy named Arun who, despite being busy with exams, gave me a place to sleep for the night and a lot of help and advice. He was a really great guy, and it is a shame that he was so busy with exams. However, we're meeting up tonight in Chiswick for a few pints. :D

The following day, I left Arun's place and headed into Central London to take care of my plane ticket. The office for Asiana Airlines is near Oxford Circus. It was a slightly rainy day and everything was grey...Welcome to London, eh? Anyway, I took care of that and then walked around a bit, making my way to Charing Cross, where there is a foot bridge that leads across the Thames river. On the way, I passed the National Gallery, which I had forgotten was free so didn't go in, and Trafalger Square. As I was crossing the river, I could see (Look, kids!) Big Ben, Parliament. I crossed the river and then found a cafe to kill some time in. My plans were to meet my next couchsurfing host in Kingston Upon Thames at 20:30, and it was a little early.

After time was successfully killed, I went to Waterloo Station to catch a train, and eventually made my way to Kingston Station where I met John, my host for that night and last night. He is another really great guy. When we got back to his house, he cooked up some dinner, we ate, hung out and talked, and then crashed.

Yesterday, I did a bit of bike shopping, but due to some difficulty in finding an ATM that would take my card, I couldn't buy one at the time, even though I went out to look at one. They guy, however, was nice enough to hold it for me until today, so I will go get it soon. After that, in the early afternoon, I went back into London. I was to meet up with John at Tate Modern, a modern art museum on the south bank of the Thames, at 16:00, so I walked around on my own and explored for a bit. I saw Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, the National Film Theatre, and several other cool shops, buildings, and bridges along the river. I also went into Tate Modern for a little and saw some "art"... I guess I will never understand Modern Art. A slightly curved railing attached to a wall is "art" showing how the supports in our lives are not always straight forward and are sometimes attached to walls... or something. I did get to see some really nice surrealistic pieces, such as Dali's Mountain Lake. That was pretty cool. And then there was the 2m by 3m canvas painted all the same color except for a single 5cm strip of a different color on one side. Sorry, I didn't get around to reading the in-depth description of that one, so I'm not sure what the message was.

Anyway, I met up with John, and he took me all around London, showing me some tourist-type sights and some rather out of the way sights. I couldn't tell you the route we took; London is rather confusing. We did stop by the oldest pub in London for a pint, ye olde Cheshire Cheese, est. 1667. It was a really cool place. We continued to wander, eventually stopped for dinner, and then made our way over towards parliament. There is something interesting going on in front of parliament: There is a man there, protesting the war in Iraq. He is the only person who is allowed to protest there after the British Government passed a law saying that no one could protest withing a certain distance of Parliament (Hello, "Free Speech Zones", anyone?). However, he was there a little before the law was passed and enacted, so he claims that it doesn't apply to him. For now, the courts agree, though the government it appealing. Anyway, hopefully I'll post some pictures of his protest when I get a chance.

Anyway, I'm running out of time and have to head out. Time to get my bike, and then later today I am moving on to another host, where I will stay until Sunday. I'll update when I can.

Cheers.

1 件のコメント:

Thank you for the music さんのコメント...

旅を始めてさっそくtroubleもあって大変だったようですが、hostにも恵まれて、いろいろな所を観光しながら楽しんでいるようでよかったですね!