Thu 19/08/10 11:15

The bus pulled into Victoria Station in London this morning about 7 am and until now, 4pm I have been walking around the city. I’m tired and I wish it were actually like 9 so I could go to bed. As it is now I’m going to have to find something to do until then so I don’t fall asleep too early. The bus ride was pretty tough for about three hours in the middle of the ride, but the remaining nine hours was fine. The only reason I mention it is because when I go back and reread this sometime in the future I want to remember how much those three hours sucked.

Scottish Highlands, Ken Curtis Summer 2010 Scottish Highlands, Ken Curtis Summer 2010

Today I started with going to Piccadilly Circus to take some more photos, the weather was just about perfect, the sun was out, it was a bit chilly, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. After the circus I headed to the Tate museum. If you read one of the earlier posts I mentioned that I was kind of disappointed that I didn’t have time to see it when I was here before. Well, today I jumped at the chance to see what it had to offer. After that I walked over the Thames and was thinking about going on The Eye, the big Ferris wheel, but once I saw how much it costs I decided not to do it. The rest of the day was spent looking for souvenirs, getting lunch, and finally making it back to the hostel… where I am right now.

Tate Museum, London, England 2010 Tate Museum, London, England 2010

Ken Curtis, Tate Museum, London, England 2010 Queen's Walk, London England

Queen's Walk, London England Thames River, London 2010

I’m getting excited about my plane ride back to the states tomorrow. It’s been two years since I’ve been in the US and I think I kind of miss it.

Thu 12/08/10 14:53
It’s a nice town

So I made it to Leeds, and to my astonishment it isn’t the city that I thought it was going to be. When I looked at the map I saw, York and then not that far away was Leeds. So I kind of got the feeling that since I know York is a big city, that Leeds must be pretty small. This view was reinforced when I reserved a room online and the map to the hostel showed basically a tiny city. When I got here though I was surprised to see skyscrapers and traffic jams.

The city itself has some of the nicest people I’ve met during this year’s adventure. People, not necessarily everyone, but the people working have been incredibly pleasant. For example, I get to the hostel and the first thing the lady says to me is, “’ello love.” I don’t care who you are, it just sounds nice. I went and bought some chips and a beer at a small store earlier and as I was almost to the door, the girl says, “bye” to me. If she had said it while I was bagging my stuff or when I was still in front of her it wouldn’t have been anything special, but I was almost out the door and she was ringing up some one else’s stuff. The bus driver asked for the address of the hostel I was going to and told me when to get off, he even gave me directions to the address. I guess to some people reading this it may not seem that special, but in much of my travels a lot of people seem to be annoyed with having to do anything more than their job. Buying a train ticket is fine if you don’t ask any questions, but when you’re confused and want them to explain, or if you can’t hear them, they get frustrated with you.

Leeds, England Ken Curtis Summer 2010 Leeds, England Ken Curtis Summer 2010

I didn’t spend a lot of time walking around Leeds, after all I really didn’t come here for any particular reason. I did though spend about 2 hours seeing what the main area had to offer, and some of it is really impressive. One of the things that I was impressed with was the renovation of older buildings. Every where I went there were huge old buildings that have been converted to markets, shopping centers, pubs, and other things. It’s always nice to see that older buildings are used instead of demolished and replaced with new. If it weren’t for the rain, I could see this being a great place to live.

Street in Leeds, England Ken Curtis Summer 2010 shopping area in Leeds, England Ken Curtis Summer 2010

Okay, so tomorrow I head to Edinburgh at 11 in them morning and arrive at 4. All good, right. I mean, I got a ticket to the place that I want to go, the bus will get me there with some daylight to see a little bit of the city, everything is just going great. So about an hour ago I decide that I should book a room…the first results I get is there is only room available in all of Edinburgh for the times that I need, and it costs 189 euros–in other words, $200 a night. I did manage to find better prices after trying a few other sites, but I have to change hostels each day. I was so worried about the cost that I was thinking about renting a car instead and sleeping in the car… it still sounds like a good idea and plus I’d get to travel at my own pace for the remainder of this trip. So I still may rent a car.

Wed 11/08/10 10:20
well, except for tomorrow morning.

Today I went and got my ticket for the next stop in my trip. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go, I just know that it’s time to move on. So with a quick look at an online map I decided that I’d go to Leeds… Don’t ask me why Leeds, it just sounded interesting.

After getting my bus ticket I headed out to do some more things that I wanted to do. I first jumped onto a double-decker bus to other side of the Thames. I always wanted to ride one of them and so it was a big deal for me, and yes I rode up top. After that I wandered Piccadilly Circus for about an hour and then went to the National Gallery. I saw some great work by Leonardo da Vinci, Degas, Monet, and Manet. About the only complaint that I have is that I got so tired walking around that I couldn’t see all the work. I also was too tired to go to The Tate. To complete the public transportation goals that I had, I rode “the tube” home. It’s what they call the subway, and I think Moscows is more fun.

London has been great and I’ve seen a lot of it, and without a doubt there is so much more I could do before leaving. I just know that I’m starting to get bored a little and to be honest London is a big city and big cities tend to wear me down some. When I was going to get my ticket to Leeds this morning, I noticed that I didn’t flinch at all getting my metro train ticket, finding the right platform, and getting to the train. Remember from my first post when arriving in London it took me an hour just to get to my first train. In general I feel like the Pink Floyd song, Brick in a Wall. I moved with the masses leaving the station and didn’t look at anyone while I was on the train just like any one of a million other commuters in this city.

Wed 11/08/10 01:14
and lots of rain

There’s a lot to do in London and today I tried to get a couple of things checked off on my list of things to do. The first was to go to two museums, The Tate and the Imperial War Museum. The Tate is pretty much known worldwide as being one of the better museums, so it is a must-see for me. The other one, The Imperial War Museum somebody told me about here at the hostel and it sounded interesting. The war museum is fairly close to the hostel so I headed there first. I won’t go too much into the details but let me just say that I think it was one of the best that I’ve been to. There were interactive exhibits, walk-in exhibits, movies, and lots of interesting items. There were tanks, V1 Rockets, Little Man (a-bomb), submarines, and then lots of specialty exhibits like the Holocaust, WWI, WWII, MI6, and more. I ended up staying there for about three hours which meant that I didn’t have time to go to The Tate, but I’ll go tomorrow.

Imperial War Museum, London Ken Curtis Imperial War Museum, London, Kenneth Curtis

Another to-do item was to go see Piccadilly Circus at night. I’ve been walking around London for the last three days and I’m feeling pretty good about getting where I want to go without using a map. Tonight though I even took a map with me but nothing seemed to help me find Soho. Soho is the neighborhood where Piccadilly Circus is located. I felt like such an idiot. I was right at the start of Soho, I saw it on the map, I had land references, and felt confident I knew which way to go. An hour later I finally gave up, swallowed my pride, and asked a guy for directions. It appears that I did a huge loop around Soho never really going into the neighborhood. I did the same thing I always do, I turned right when I should have turned left. You can probably imagine my humiliation when I was heading home and I arrived at the spot where I made my ill fated choice to the right instead of the left, in about 4 minutes from Piccadilly Circus. Anyway, the guy’s directions were spot on and I got the pictures that I wanted. Oh, and I forgot to mention that it was raining hard most of the time I was walking around. In some ways when it rains like that it’s kind of fun, people are huddled in door alcoves, under café awnings, and those individuals with umbrellas keep trudging on. I don’t think I could ever really enjoy living in a place that gets the kind of rain that London gets though.

Piccadilly Circus at night, Ken Curtis blog Piccadilly Circus at night, Ken Curtis blog

Mon 09/08/10 11:58
and the changing of the guard

Today was mostly nothing more than a moving day…moving from one hostel to another. I did manage to go watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, but other than that I really haven’t done very much. I caught a cold yesterday and today my nose is running, so I think I need a day just to take it easy. The new hostel is owned by the other hostel and is very much like the other one, but not as busy. The other hostel was so busy/crowded that there wasn’t anyplace to just sit down. It probably sounds like I’m exaggerating some, but I’m really not. Even at night the room had people playing cards on the floor, so if I wanted to rest I had to climb up to my bunk bed and lay down. This hostel works more for long-term residents, so it’s a lot more laid back. There’s one guy that’s been living here for 2 months, others that I’ve talked to 6 weeks or less.

The changing of the guard was kind of a let down because I didn’t get a good spot to watch. When I got there, there were people packed against a railing on the other side of a statue outside of the palace, so I figured that would be a good spot to watch. I did get to see the guard march in, and that was cool, but as for the actual changing of the guard I missed it… but to be honest, I don’t know if there was anything to miss. I do know though that I could see people taking pictures and I couldn’t see what was going on. So I probably did miss something.

Changing of the Guard, London 2010 Changing of the Guard, London 2010

Changing of the Guard, London 2010 Kenneth Curtis Changing of the Guard, London 2010 Ken Curtis

Tonight I’m hoping to get to Picadilly Circus to see it lit up. Hopefully I’ll make it.

Mon 09/08/10 01:20

London is great. I spent yesterday just wandering around and I don’t feel that I saw nearly as much as I need to. I went to Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus and Soho, the London Eye, and a few other lesser-known things. I started out at about 8 in the morning and didn’t get back to the hostel until 8 at night. Not all that time was spent walking, I stopped for about 40 minutes to listen to a park concert, and of course I stopped to eat a couple of times. I kind of wish that I had taken my gps with me so I knew how far I walked. When I got back to the hostel I felt that I needed to see some of the same sights that I saw earlier in the day, at night, so I headed back out at about 9 to get some night shots of the London Bridge, London Eye, and Big Ben.

I think I took a record number of photographs too, 192. That’s more than I think I’ve taken at any other place that I’ve been. It makes sense too because it really is hard to relate how much there is to see here.