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London Calling: Karen's trip to England

So I didn't see David Beckham but I did see his picture at a musuem, does that count?

Oh my gosh, my first rant. I apologize to Chris for getting this up so late in the game. Found a virus on my computer and this HTML stuff is new to me.

So this summer I was separated for most of July and August from Redman, or Banshee Christina to the rest of you. She was at the beach, err summer school for all of July. For most of August I spent my time in England, specifically Stratford upon Avon and London studying the works of Willy Shakespeare. It was an awesome experience, which I recommend to anyone who has never traveled out of the country. This was me prior to August because I don't include Mexico or a trip to Taiwan when I was two years old. So, here is a list of the things I loved and hated about England in no particular order or rank.

Things I Loved

London. Stratford was cute in a Disneyland sort of way but London was the place to be as in the shopping, the pubs, the people and the places. More on these to follow.

H&M. The "Ikea" of clothing stores. Affordable yet adorable (Hey, like my alliteration?) clothes and accessories. A three story Mecca in Convent Garden and I don't even wanna think about what it was like at Oxford St. I passed by while riding a double decker bus and nearly fell over wishing I could fly into the store.

Wagamamas. The first good meal I had in England two weeks into the trip. Not exactly authentic Japanese food but a welcome change from the heavy cream and fried stuff of the English Menu.

The Underground. A convenient, relatively cheap way to travel from Westminster Abbey to Notting Hill to Oxford St. and back.

The accents. There's just something about saying "cheers" and "ello." An accent just makes everything sound better. Although it is slightly disorienting when you see a Filipino guy at H&M sporting an accent.

The "Blokes" or guys. Prior to this trip my mom was convinced I would not see a decent looking guy, "That David Beckham is like one in a million. One in a million chance you'll see a good looking guy." Riiight Mom. The country is full of hot guys and that whole teeth thing isn't true. Take the preppy look add the accent and I was swooning which leads to...

Simon. The Hotel porter at the Stratford Moat House Hotel. The first hot guy I saw in England. I liken him to Lori's Harry Winston guy in "Real World: New York", but with a British accent. He was gorgeous, played tennis and went on Holiday to Portugal (with his family, how cute!) a day after our group left for London. We returned to Stratford with no Simon in sight. Girls' hearts were shattered.

Guy in white shirt at Westminster Tube station. A fleeting moment, but a guy with his Grandma and Mom. Everyone, all together now, "Awwww."

Watching Romeo and Juliet at Regents Park. The production was awful, Juliet annoyed me and Romeo was a greasy Italian guy. But, the venue was amazing. An open-air theater inside a gorgeous park. Couples were having picnics and the place was lined with little lights. "Wow, this would be so cute if my non-existent boyfriend had taken me here." Really awesome place, see they just don't have things like this in LA.

Speaking of parks, Regents Park was amazing. The parks in London are so different than LA. No BBQ's or loud music. Everyone is quiet and polite and it's way conducive to studying or napping. Sidebar, saw a way hot guy in red shorts, white tee, spiky hair and sunglasses. Unfortunately flanked by two blondes. Blast those blondes!

Things I Hated

London. Even though it was a great city, but it is a city - crowded and filled with people who smelled, pushed and shoved. More to follow.

The Smells. Europe has something against deodorant or smelling decent. I heard this fact is way worse in Paris where I was informed the Eiffel Tower smelled of urine. Since it was August, my time in London was humid, which did not help the stench factor.

The Underground. This goes a long with the smells thing. Being crammed during rush hour in a subway is not good on the nose. Mix BO with sweat and throw in a little heat and you've got the Tube smell.

The location of my hotel in London. The Drury Lane Moat House Hotel was central to everything Convent Garden and Leicester Square is likened, as a "Soho." The hotel was also central to two crack alleys. It was scary and disgusting.

Seeing poop in the street. There were actually feces on the side of buildings; I pray they belonged to animals and not humans.

No trash cans. While having lunch with friends in front of Westminster Abbey and across from the Parliament we realized there was no where to put our trash. One friend was tempted to throw it on the side near the entrance to the Abbey, "Gasp! It's a place of worship you can't!" You'd think such a tourist spot would have trashcans, but no. At the tube station they literally have announcements like "please keep rubbish with you and throw away at home." Huh?

The exchange rate. The equivalent of a U.S. dollar to a British pound is 1.65 give or take. Roughly speaking that's like having 600 bucks but getting around 300 to 350 pounds back. Way too expensive over there.

The weather. Okay, this I didn't mind so much. But it was August and I was wearing long sleeved shirts and sweaters. I can't imagine what it's like in January. The sun only made appearances sporadically, but hey I'm pale so I guess it was fitting.

Customs at Heathrow Airport. So I got interrogated at customs, me of all people. When I told the chick the purpose of my trip was studying she wanted to see a letter. She wanted to know where I was staying and how much money I brought. Right, I'm really going to smuggle crack or something. Well, a soccer player if I found one, but not crack.

Smoking. Maybe it's being spoiled by living in LA where smoking is not allowed anywhere. Across the pond everyone smokes and it's disgusting. Ten-year boys puffing away at the train station. That's just wrong.

Extra Random Stuff

I did go on this trip for two classes. My professor edited almost all the editions of the plays we read. Tough class and tough guy, he memorized names and called on people. Would tell you if your answer sucked. The humanity.

Shakespeare is cool. I saw over 7 productions ranging from Edward III to Pericles, in places like the Swan and Royal Shakespeare Theater in Stratford, and the Globe in London.

Restaurants charge for water. You have to specify you want tap water or they'll give you a bottle of Evian for 2 pounds. They're also really stingy about ice.

Indian Food is actually really good. Never had it until I went on this trip. I've lived mere miles from Indian Central (Pioneer Blvd.) and never stepped foot into a restaurant. Now I really want to and get some Nan bread.

written by karen

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