I'm at the Heathrow international terminal waiting for gate information for my flight to Amsterdam. London was a lot of fun. The people are pretty cool, the beer is good, and the place is pretty clean. One thing that astounded me - the cab drivers are awesome! They have to go to a minimum of three years of school to learn "The Knowledge of London" before they can drive. They own their cabs and they take a lot of pride in what they do, and well they should. My driver today told me there are 20,000 streets in London and the drivers have to memorize them all, along with all the buildings, schools, bars, hotels, etc...
Today I had a little bit of time between check out and departure. I walked by Buckingham Palace and said hello to the guards. They apparently didn't recognize me, because they didn't acknowledge. I did see one somewhat hilarious thing: There was one hallway that was guarded by an actual guard, while across the little square from where he was, there was another identical entrance that simply had two orange cones with a yellow chain between them. It's got to be humbling to spend all day staring at that and realizing that it's considered a considerable replacement for you.
I also walked by the Parliament, but Bootsy Collins was not seeing guests, so there was no awesome Rubber Band bass guitar jam today. Damn. At that point, I realized that I needed to check the time and spent five minutes digging through my bag looking for my phone so I could check it, ignoring the fact that I was standing in front of the most famous clock in the world. Idiot.
Saw a '62 Vespa in traffic today. The cab driver said he knew it was a '62 because of the E on the license tag. Neat!
I rode the tube yesterday to Camden Town, as I'd heard there were some good record stores in that area. I did find a couple, but the selection of 60s and Northern soul was so overwhelming that I didn't buy anything. I indeded to go back today, but I just didn't make it.
Camden Town is cool. There are a lot of interesting shops and crazy people. I had a beer outside a pub with a punk guy from Santa Cruz. He was a bit wacky, with a big pink spiked mohawk. I was a wee bit surprised at the weed culture in that particular neighborhood. Just about every shop sells pipes and bongs and papers and "additives" and stuff. That part sort of reminds me of a part of Vancouver. Where Camden goes beyond is that you can't seem to walk more than 30 feet without someone offering to sell you some. I'd say that yesterday, at about 7 in the evening on a Thursday, there were no less than 30 dealers, saturating the market. People openly buy and sell it on the street. The cops don't seem to mind. Everyone goes home happy.
I chose not to partake, as I was more interested in the sights and wandering around.
The tube is cool. It's way more organized than the New York subway system, or any other I've been on. Even though it's easily as complicated as the NY system, it's way easier to navigate, as there are tons of signs, and recordings, and screens everywhere telling you where to go and how to find your way. It's easy to figure out your fare and pay it at the machines and it's easy to figure out what train to get on and when to get off and all. I like it, even though it's a bit expensive. Although, the tube is the least of ones expense worries in London.
To get back to the airport, I should have taken a cab to Paddington station and then rail to the airport. The cost would have been around 30 pounds. Instead, I took a cab all the way to the airport, due to a credit card misunderstanding, so instead it was 66. Someone in finance will take me to the woodshed over that one, I'm sure.
Well.. I guess that's all for now. I'm off to Amsterdam and then home to the States on Sunday. I miss Susie so much. I replay her voice in my head when I'm walking around alone. I can't wait to settle in to our own bed with her and the animals and spend a night at home again.