Saturday, June 6, 2009

London day 1 - thurs 5-28-09

Milano airport security line is like Great America ride lines (La Ronde, for my Montreal readers) - twist and turns to deter your thoughts from how long the line is if everyone stood directly behind each other.

The custom official guy was cute and gave me a nice smile after seeing my passport - where were they when i spent the 4 weeks in their country!!!

the plane landed at Heathrow airport, and as it lands, i thought i saw the words "TOILET" big on a building near the airport.
but i think it said:

anyways, with 2 rolling luggages, and remembering how far the terminals were to the tram, and possibly all the levels of stairs and escalators i might have to encounter in the London underground (and not having taken it yet so unsure of what to expect) - i decided to bite the bullet and take a cab to my hotel. the line for Black Cab was convienently right outside - it's like a supped up mini van except there's only 2 seats in the back and plenty of leg room.

upon arriving, the driver took my bags to the hotel front door. the meter said £54, i handed him £60 expecting change ( i was going to tip £2 or £3 remembering the conversion at some point was about 1 £ to 2 $ or some such), and he had the audacity to say 'yes that's right, thank you. the meter was £55 and the rest is tip'
and he walked away!

how very rude, i think he over tipped himself, and i am dazed and confused since everything in Italy was included in the bill so i came from a country where really tipping was already included.

***side note, even though i didn't speak italian save to ask for directions and order food, the sound of italian is strangely familiar. now in london, even though i am hearing lots of english language, it sounds sooo foreign to me. not to mention that in London, people speak ALL sorts of language on the street, it's really not like being in an english speaking country, but rather, like any-language-speaking country. ***

-------- Apparitions, Alleyways and Ales -------------

so my friend at work found this great source call London Walks which is a group that offer very interesting guided walking tours - you don't need to book ahead of time, and the meeting location is always at a tube station. This gives great flexibility so you're not locked down to anything should last minute schedule changes, and i think London is such a walkable city, so i can get some exercise too.

my first tour was the Apparitions, Alleyways and Ales tour... London ghost stories... haunted mansions, theatre, haunting dogs.. the stories were entertaining, the guide was good, but i wasn't sure i believed all of them..

haunted alleyway near the stage door of a theatre:

Tom Cribb pub - Tom Cribb was a famous English bare-knuckle boxer and apparently haunts his pub to this day

this poor doggy died and was haunting a certain cross section of town at 8am, 2pm or 8pm at night, times when his owner used to walk him in life. his tombstone existed but was knocked over and grass grew over it. after many reports of car accidents caused by sightings of a dog run out into the street, investigators found the tombstone and put it back up - after then, no more doggy hauntings.

St James park - London Eye in the background. St James park is said to be super haunted due to all the bodies buried here, including a whole lot from a nearby monastery.

Sting (the singer)'s house - not haunted. When the tour end, the guide said "this way to the tube station, this way to the pub for a good drink, and around the corner is Sting's house, he lives here" we saw his butler peering through the windows like good stalkers that we are.

On my tour, i met this really cool woman named Anne who worked for Universit of Minnesota (we exchanged information but i reset my phone contacts accidentally so now i'll never be in touch with her) - who was here for work but stayed a few extra days... we really had fun, so the tour guide MENTIONED 'you can't talk about Haunted London without talking about 50 Barclay Square...' we knew we had to go there.

after the tour ended, Anne and i adventurously found our way to 50 Barclay Square (walking through Green Park gave us the willies, for no reason. all of a sudden we both felt a hush of unease... i took out my trusty mini flash light and we hurried and joked loudly to ease tension and half ran through the park)...

eventually we found the place... it's in a decently busy area of town even at night, though i did feel 'weird' when we walked by. A second hand bookstore is located on the first floor of this building, but the top floor middle room with the four poster bed is where a lot of strange things takes place... so many stories that the 'hauntings' weren't even associated with a single story. It is said to be confirmed that the bookstore has policies, even to this day, that there can never be just 1 person manning the store, and also that top floor middle room is always locked and no one is allowed to ever enter.

Anne and i looked at it, then ran across the street so we can take a picture of it from far. we both snapped our digital camera..
then my camera does a split second preview of the last picture, and i saw a flash of white in the photo, that was not in Anne's photo. i kind of freaked out a bit, i turned to Anne and asked if she saw the white in the photo too and she did. we quietly squealed like school girls in light horror. i half wanted to leave my camera on the pavement and walk away...

then i started noticing that cars were curving as they came by us (when we tried to cross the street). i told Anne my theory that i happened upon a set of car headlights that is driving towards the house, and with my camera flash i managed to capture the light reflecting off the window glass.

we both 'bought' this explanation and felt a lot less spooked (and in return a lot more stupid).

you tell me if you believe there's something supernatural here:

so ends the first half day in London. heart pounding excitement, mostly self induced i think.

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