Days 3-6: Catching Up – The Rest of London

Man have I not wanted to write much on this trip… But now that I’m sitting down to actually get my thoughts on this virtual paper I’m realizing how silly it was for me not to keep up. Now I have more work to do and I’ve kept all you incredible people wondering what sort of shenanigans Mickey and I have gotten into. Well sorry! Here it is, the end of our trip to London, with a follow up post of our time in Scotland.

Day 3 –

Where I left you with my second post we had been out on a pub crawl where we figured out the night bus system and were very pleased with ourselves. We happened to come into our hostel very late roughly 3:00 in the morning where both of us crashed into our separate beds and promptly couldn’t fall asleep… Rough! I pulled out my book and got some reading in until I just couldn’t stay awake any longer. Throughout the morning our various roommates got up and went about their lives slamming the door, blow drying their hair, and chatting up a storm. Needless to say Mickey and I have gotten very little uninterrupted sleep this trip but right around 3:00 pm Mickey woke me up because we couldn’t sleep the day light away.

We sure made a go of it but with our remaining few hours, we hopped on the tube and went to see the Portebello Garden market. Unfortunately we keep missing the markets themselves but the street was lined with tons of fascinating shops with general touristy trinkets and other just plain interesting things. We’d had such a good time on the first pub crawl that we figured we might as well hit it again. Let me tell you right now that central London is a completely different place on a Friday as opposed to any other night of the week. It was dang near impossible to get to the bar let alone a order a drink. In the states bartenders rely on tips to make most of their money so they are very quick about getting you your order and moving onto the next one. This is not the case in England (and Scotland) where you don’t have to tip unless the service is incredible. So there is almost zero hustle in their turnover of customers and on a Friday night in central London there are loads of them. Every bar we went to was still a good time but each were filled to the brim.

We happened to meet three people from Minneapolis at bar Soho and two of them are going to be in Barcelona when we are so, we are potentially going to meet up! We befriended the best tour guide in the business named Ed! Who worked 4 days and nights in a row and helped make each of our three pub crawls with him a blast by switching from his red work shirt at the end of his shift and continuing to show us around and get as he put it get “proper drunk.”

Day 4 –

This day we went to really the only place I felt like I had missed on my last time in London and that was the Tower of London. As a history guy I absolutely loved walking around listening to the different architecture bits and which king added which section. We walked through the Crown Jewels which Mickey thought were replicas because they had very little security around them… Until we exited the building and we saw a gigantic steel door! We had messaged our buddies Matt and Mike and found out at they were also going to be at the Tower that day as well but since they didn’t have phones we figured it would be impossible to find them in this massive castle, and of course as we are saying this, Mickey looks up and is like Matt???? So then we all hung out there taking a gander at all the cool swords and armor talking European history which Matt majored in.

After the Tower of London we had made plans with our new found friend Charlotte to see the “underground side of London” so we headed over to the dalston junction and shoreditch areas. Charlotte and her friend Lucy met up with us a brought us to this awesome hidden away street feast. Imagine taking about 60 of the best state fair food trucks and booths, cramming them into an area surrounded by those giant storage containers on huge ships, with some sweet alternative music being played, and bonfires crackling all around you, got that? Ok now make it wicked awesome and inexpensive and that’s what we did. I feel like I’ve gone bonkers because I didn’t take any photos… Sorry! Mickey and I had some jerk chicken that was absolutely delicious and tried out some English beer that Mickey liked and did not hit the spot for me (bitter). We then went to a place called the Passage where Lucy may have had a huge crush on the bartender so she’s known by name there because she’s there almost nightly. While the bartender had a nice head of hair I would go just for the drinks! Mickey ordered a whiskey sour which we both expected to be whiskey mixed with sour… Not the case at all. Instead what was presented to him was this foamy art in a glass that had some sort of cinnamon powder on top and believe me that may have been my favorite drink from the entire trip! This place was about really making something that would leave a lasting impression on your taste buds.

Then we moved on to a bar where Lucy’s work friends were meeting up for a going away party. The pub was called the Star of Bethal and it had that thump in the music that just about never changes and it was here that we had some of the most fun on the entire trip. We met a ton of English people and a few Australians where we discussed accents, opinions on Americans as a whole, and our opinions on their city. It was here that after displaying my antics on the dance floor I was challenged to my first dance off abroad. Mickey will back me up but I destroyed it! TJ 1 Australian guy 0. We had gone outside to cool off and a few people in our party grabbed a smoke and when we were done and I stepped back inside it was to a whole different kind of pub… One completely filled with glitter. Next thing I know I’m doused in glitter utterly confused and Mickey and Charlotte dip set back outside. Now I can’t be the only American that got glittered so I scooped up a couple handfuls and got Mickey real good for ditching me! All of the English people loved our accents and were trying to copy them and failing miserably so then they asked us to try and of course since we practice on the regular we sounded freaking incredible which made everyone laugh because we would rattle through English Scottish Australian and Irish in the same sentence.

At this point in the night I just about always am hankering for some food, and so we took off searching our hearts out for a kebab place. Lucky thing we had Charlotte because Mickey and I would be have been eternally lost. We found the kebab place and now my absolute favorite late night food has changed from Mesa pizza to kebabs with a side of chips(fries) and cheese. We then went back to charlottes for a chill session on the sweetest patio ever. We swapped stories until Charlotte finally kicked us out at about 5:30 am… What we didn’t realize was that the night busses shut down right around 6:00… So how we’d bussed back to shepherds bush each night was no longer an option. We ended up wandering around for a good hour finally finding the stop that would take us to our hostel. It was here, covered in glitter, that we watched the sun rise in the Piccadilly Circus.

Day 5 –

As we arrived when some of our roommates were waking up we once again slept the majority of the day away. We’d made plans with Matt and Mike to meet up again at the pub crawl so we went over there for an early dinner/lunch/breakfast where we had one of the better plates of nachos I’ve ever had and once again ordered… You guessed it fish and chips along with sausage and mash. It was absolutely delectable. When we were done we had some more time to kill before the crawl so we walked around the Covent Garden Market looking at all their wares as they closed up shop and then we listened to a street musician/guitarist who was absolutely fantastic. He wrote his own music and had a lovely voice and a decently large crowd sitting and listening to him play. Mickey got a (as Charlotte would say) fab cappuccino at what appears to be a very popular coffee joint in England called Cafè Nero. We then rolled over to Belushis to crawl again. I’m not going to go into this much but I did have a drink called a Wham Jam Thank You Mam made with southern comfort cherry, luxardo amaretto, cranberry juice, and RASBERRY JAM! It was absolutely delicious and if it hadn’t run me £7.50 that would have been all I’d had. But basically it was another fun night out on the town. I did however get pulled into a breakdancing battle by our tour guide Ed who wanted to see me bust a move. I’m not sure I won but loads of people from the club came and asked what a big white guy from the states is doing crushing it on the dance floor.

Day 6 –

Basically today was rather relaxed on the London side of things. Mickey and I woke up early to check out of our hostel and then packed up our belongings to catch our train to Edinburgh, Scotland at 9:30. The train ride was pretty cool and it was a nice way to catch a bit of the London countryside. Five hours later we were stepping out onto the soil of Scotland. In my next post I’ll tell you about our entire time there and what made it Mickey’s absolute favorite place on our trip and why I mildly disagree with him.

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London Day 2 – Walk, Walk, Walk, Crawl, Crawl, Crawl

Today we had some pretty cool adventures. Mickey and I spent several hours on a free walking tour where we hit most of the big locations and then we meandered around Piccadilly going into some of the most touristy shops I’ve ever seen in my life. On the tour we heard a ton of really cool stories which I will do my best to capture for you even though I’m pulling them from memory.

I’m going to butcher the names of a couple of these places so be prepared for some silliness. The tour started out at a place called Belushis pub where a bunch of people were gathered up and then herded onto the tube. We came out in a pretty cool park where there were war memorials that surrounded a gigantic triumphal arch. As the tour started they told us all about this giant arch and how the French and English were fighting and during the fights the French started to build an arch of triumph… Then the English won. So because of their victory they were like, “take that France! Now we are gonna build a better arch” but unfortunately they totally failed and theirs was significantly smaller. So then they made a statue that doubled the arches size and it looked hilarious and quite ugly. Since then they’ve made a few changes however and now in my opinion it looks lovely. From there it was a quick jaunt down constitution road to buckingham palace where the changing of the guards was taking place.

We were told of a few different break-ins at buckingham and my favorite one revolves around an Irishman. He made the decision to hop the fence and wander his way over to the palace where he discovered an open window. Climbing in he went down into the basement, and as a notorious drunk, was very pleased to happen upon the wine cellar. He then found a bottle to his liking and went on his merry way. Of course the bottle was quite nice and the guard was unable to discover who had taken it but instead of taking extra precautions they said to themselves that nobody is stupid enough to come back again.

Several months later he had a hankering to see more of the palace and so he hopped the fence again. Instead of going down he made the trek up to the throne room where he hops onto the royal seat and has himself a grand ol’ time. All this while alarms are being set off… and instead of going to look the guard says to himself “no way could anyone get passed the guards and the walls and into the palace, the alarm must be broken I’ll go and turn it off.” The Irishmen decides he’s tired and could use a lay down so he heads to the bedrooms… The queens specifically where she happens to be fast asleep. Upon waking to find a strange man in her room the queen keeps her composure, hits her emergency button (which does nothing as the alarm system is off) and asks how he is doing. They have quite the chat and then when she’s had enough the queen who doesn’t smoke asks if he would like to have a cigarette. She then calls her maid and requests a smoke for the strange man in her bedroom. The maid then raises the guard and he gets wrestled from the building. They wanted to put him in jail for the rest of his life but at the time the palace was public property… So he was unable to be charged with anything.

As this is getting quite long I will omit the other stories and instead list the other cool places we saw. Henry the VIII palace, statue of the Duke of York, Trefalagar square, the Horseguard square (this has a different name but I’ve forgotten) Westminster Abby, Big Ben, and we finished the tour off at a pub called the Old Monk which is rather famous! That evening we went on an adventure of a pub crawl where we met some really awesome people from all over! Bonded with two floridians named Matt and Mike and met people from Australia, New Zealand, and Russia. Mickey and I ruled the dance floors and convince many people that sitting around shouting at each other was way less fun than dancing our hearts out! Included in the pub crawl ticket was a free shot at each bar and happy hour prices on all drinks. So needless to say we were all having a grand time of it. Mickey and I were thoroughly impress with ourselves as we figured out the night bus system which at first glance seems very simple and absolutely is not!

I’ll do my best to update a bit more often but it’s tough to just sit down and write when all this awesomeness is going on. As the bartenders at our hostel say Ta everyone!

London Day 2 – Walk, Walk, Walk, Crawl, Crawl, Crawl

Today we had some pretty cool adventures. Mickey and I spent several hours on a free walking tour where we hit most of the big locations and then we meandered around Piccadilly going into some of the most touristy shops I’ve ever seen in my life. On the tour we heard a ton of really cool stories which I will do my best to capture for you even though I’m pulling them from memory.

I’m going to butcher the names of a couple of these places so be prepared for some silliness. The tour started out at a place called Belushis pub where a bunch of people were gathered up and then herded onto the tube. We came out in a pretty cool park where there were war memorials that surrounded a gigantic triumphal arch. As the tour started they told us all about this giant arch and how the French and English were fighting and during the fights the French started to build an arch of triumph… Then the English won. So because of their victory they were like, “take that France! Now we are gonna build a better arch” but unfortunately they totally failed and theirs was significantly smaller. So then they made a statue that doubled the arches size and it looked hilarious and quite ugly. Since then they’ve made a few changes however and now in my opinion it looks lovely. From there it was a quick jaunt down constitution road to buckingham palace where the changing of the guards was taking place.

We were told of a few different break-ins at buckingham and my favorite one revolves around an Irishman. He made the decision to hop the fence and wander his way over to the palace where he discovered an open window. Climbing in he went down into the basement, and as a notorious drunk, was very pleased to happen upon the wine cellar. He then found a bottle to his liking and went on his merry way. Of course the bottle was quite nice and the guard was unable to discover who had taken it but instead of taking extra precautions they said to themselves that nobody is stupid enough to come back again.

Several months later he had a hankering to see more of the palace and so he hopped the fence again. Instead of going down he made the trek up to the throne room where he hops onto the royal seat and has himself a grand ol’ time. All this while alarms are being set off… and instead of going to look the guard says to himself “no way could anyone get passed the guards and the walls and into the palace, the alarm must be broken I’ll go and turn it off.” The Irishmen decides he’s tired and could use a lay down so he heads to the bedrooms… The queens specifically where she happens to be fast asleep. Upon waking to find a strange man in her room the queen keeps her composure, hits her emergency button (which does nothing as the alarm system is off) and asks how he is doing. They have quite the chat and then when she’s had enough the queen who doesn’t smoke asks if he would like to have a cigarette. She then calls her maid and requests a smoke for the strange man in her bedroom. The maid then raises the guard and he gets wrestled from the building. They wanted to put him in jail for the rest of his life but at the time the palace was public property… So he was unable to be charged with anything.

As this is getting quite long I will omit the other stories and instead list the other cool places we saw. Henry the VIII palace, statue of the Duke of York, Trefalagar square, the Horseguard square (this has a different name but I’ve forgotten) Westminster Abby, Big Ben, and we finished the tour off at a pub called the Old Monk which is rather famous! That evening we went on an adventure of a pub crawl where we met some really awesome people from all over! Bonded with two floridians named Matt and Mike and met people from Australia, New Zealand, and Russia. Mickey and I ruled the dance floors and convince many people that sitting around shouting at each other was way less fun than dancing our hearts out! Included in the pub crawl ticket was a free shot at each bar and happy hour prices on all drinks. So needless to say we were all having a grand time of it. Mickey and I were thoroughly impress with ourselves as we figured out the night bus system which at first glance seems very simple and absolutely is not!

I’ll do my best to update a bit more often but it’s tough to just sit down and write when all this awesomeness is going on. As the bartenders at our hostel say Ta everyone!

Day 1 London – Exhaustion Mixed with Jet Lag… Bad Combo

Sleeping on the plane, when you travel, from what I can tell is probably one of the best things you can do. The time will fly (pun not intended but appreciated) and you’ll land at least a bit more rested than when you started. The problem for my travel companion Mickey and I rests in our lack of rest. 8 hours of fly time from Minneapolis to Paris is a long time but as both of us exceed 6′ in height and aren’t twigs there was very little room for us to be comfortable. Layover in Paris was uneventful although we had to trek through security again and Mickey accidentally brought a full nalgene through and was forced to rummage through the garbage to find confiscated water bottles that he could pour it out in.

We met a lovely young lass from England on the hop over to London who basically planned our time in London for us. Took us awhile to find our hostel, not because it was that difficult to find, but more so because we could barely think straight. After being awake for over 24 hours neither of us were in any sort of mind to understand what was going on around us. Unfortunately we had forgotten that check in wasn’t until 2:00 so we had over 2 1/2 hours to kill. After getting extremely simple directions we immediately had no idea where we were going… But 1 block from the hostel was much to far to walk back to ask for directions again so we just kept on truckin. I’d go into some more detail about this adventure but… Being half awake Mickey and I can’t really remember details. At check in we then immediately went upstairs and laid down in our short, hard beds, in a blisteringly hot room and passed out feeling like kings.

Upon awakening we took off again, this time by the tube, making our way up to Camden Town. Camden was described to us as being very alternative with lots of live music and good ol’ fashioned pubs. We walked up and down the street taking in all the cool artwork on the buildings, the crazy outfits worn by basically everyone, and a crew of roughly 100 rollerblading fiends! Obviously we stopped at a pub called Bucks Head and ordered fish and chips and while there found Mickeys new favorite drink called Ferrari Jack. (Jack, amaretto, and coke) There we just took in the scenery still to tired to join in the craziness. Then afterwords on our trip back we stopped into The Worlds End “probably the biggest pub in the world” for a pint!

All in all a very interesting first day to an excellent adventure!