LONDON PART 2: 24ish HOURS
Look man, I don’t want to be one of those fake humble people or those rappers hashtagging #blessed…but I’m really humble and really #blessed…or as PFT Commenter might say, #humbeled
Seriously though, this is my 4th time to London. I’m not even humblebragging, I just think that’s rad and I am legitimately lucky to be able to travel and not be $10000000 in debt to do so. So yeah, even though it wasn’t much time in London, it was still LONDON and it doesn’t get old. Someone (two people, actually) told me London doesn’t interest them and, to each their own and everything, but they are really wrong and should feel bad because London rules.
This was really just a quick cuppa on the way to Spain, but in my humble and unbiased and totally correct opinion, you can’t just pass through London…London must pass through you. We didn’t want to just come in late and immediately get another late night plane to Spain and miss London, so we arrived late and flew out the next evening. And yes, this wasn’t our most exciting visit but we still loved it so sue me. By the way, as we’ve become more experienced travelers, I’ve come to appreciate how important it is having a room near a train, especially in Europe. Even though we pack light, it still sucks lugging backpacks for miles.
We stayed at the Ibis Budget Hotel Hounslow, which I chose because it was close to a tube stop and had decent reviews. And to be honest, for London, it was as cheap as it gets without being horrible. In fact, it was quite good, and within 5 minutes walking distance of the Hounslow stop, as well as really close to a supermarket where I bought at least 5 pounds of candy and 12 Red Bulls. Whatever.
We landed in Heathrow after an uneventful flight from Keflavik and this time we had our Oyster Cards (which we forgot to return for the €5/each deposit back but I’m sure we’ll go again if Brexit doesn’t break the UK so we’ll be right mate) and cruised to Hounslow. It took about 20 minutes from Heathrow but I was still on my usual Iceland high and happy to be in London and looking forward to Spain so it felt like nothing.
BULSTRODE PUB INDIAN FOOD = <3
We didn’t have plans to do anything since it was pushing 9pm, but the second we emerged from Hounslow Station we saw the Bulstrode Pub and when the menu outside showed Indian food we were in. We had no idea of the quality or quantity or anything else, but we were hungry and English pubs are always fun so in we went.
And, uh, YEAH! It was bloody good. We got a tikka masala and a butter chicken and some garlic naan and it was life-changing. It killed me, it really did. (Can you tell I just read Catcher in the Rye and am now going to be Holden?) I’m not sure if we were just super hungry or if it was really good, but the reviews are great so I think it was truly awesome. Plus, it was just fun being in a pub. The many TVs had soccer playing so loud that it was hard to have a conversation, which was cool actually. And it was fun to see people around the bar so into the game. We actually saw the Danny Welbeck injury happen (it was bad), and since soccer players flop all the time I figured he was faking until the teams started praying around the stretcher. I had no idea who Danny Welbeck was but thanks Google, apparently I witnessed a tiny bit of Arsenal history. The lesson is, eat at Bulstrode. There’s a bunch of sit down tables so you don’t have to sit at the bar.
THE GREAT DISHOOM DISAPPOINTMENT
Not sure if you can tell by now, but we like food. A lot. And Indian food is the best. Even though the plan was to eat ourselves to death at Dishoom the next day, we still went and ate Indian at Bulstrode because why not. But, to my eternal dismay, Dishoom turned out to break my mighty heart.
We loved Dishoom. We had tried to go with friends on our second trip to London and it was a 3-hour wait for dinner. Nah. So the next time we were there, we finally went. We went to the Carnaby one and it ruled. It was 3 or 4pm and there was no wait and it was a bit too spicy but really bloody good. Our fatal mistake this time was thinking we could go around lunchtime. We pretty much checked out of the Ibis at noon and went straight to Dishoom. Big mistake. It was a 1-2 hour wait, and we didn’t want to spend all our time in London waiting since time was of the essence, so we sadly, Arrested-Development-mimicking-Charlie-Brown-style walked out and tried not to cry. We had passed a Korean place nearby on the way and hadn’t eaten since we were saving our stomachs for Dishoom so we were bloody famished and decided to eat there. Caitlin still remembers it fondly.
JINJUU IN CARNABY
They had a decently-priced lunch menu so we headed in. And mine wasn’t bad by any means, but I think I was still pouting about Dishoom. I had the Korean fried chicken lollies, which had a nice flavor but was super stringy and tough. Pretty sure it was grade F beak meat. Caitlin got the short rib tacos and a salmon tostada, which she still dreams about. The portions were small, but I’m a fat American so maybe they weren’t. The annoying thing is they brought a bottle of mineral water and poured it before we could tell them we wanted tap (always go for free tap water as opposed to expensive bottled water which still sucks) so that was like another €4 for lukewarm water. Annoying as, mate. But the atmosphere is cool and Caitlin was nearly crying with food joy so it was worth it. All up, I think the meal was something like $50 USD, which in London isn’t terrible.
THE TATE MODERN NEVER GETS OLD
The last time we were at the Tate I was sick and slept through it. It was actually incredibly refreshing and comfortable to sleep there, but I was bummed that my friends and wife saw everything cool and I didn’t. So I insisted we go back and look people, it rules. There’s some Picasso, some Warhol, some Dali, and a whole bunch of crap of which I question its artistic merit…which brings me to…
Weirdly enough, I could have sworn I’d seen this before, but I thought there was only one and it was at the Tate and I know I hadn’t seen it at the Tate. Did my memory betray me? Apparently not. After approximately 4 seconds of Google, I found that there’s a replica at the Scottish Museum of Modern Art, where Caitlin and I went (and thoroughly enjoyed) back in 2012 or 2013. What I also didn’t realize is the original Fountain was lost and there are only replicas today. Whatever, art history, whatever.
I like Dada art. I saw Of Montreal play a show and everything (as is usual for them) was bizarre and crazy and fun and colorful and there were costume changes and onstage catwalks and fashion shows and giant costume heads and shooting feathers. What did it all mean? Nothing. And everything. That’s what I love about Dada. Not everything has to be so meaningful and symbolic, right? I mean, there are some things in life that are absurd and weird and meaningless and odd (like the platypus), right? In my humble, uninformed art history know nothing opinion, Dadaism brings back the whole “art for art’s sake” and I like that.
Now I’ve had this debate (with myself, mostly because nobody likes my inane conversation topics) if I like or dislike art just because I’ve been told it’s good or whatever. (I still think the Mona Lisa sucks). And what is art? I have no idea. Is Andy Warhol copying things en masse still art? No clue. So is Fountain a piece of art or is it simply a urinal? My answer…yes?
It was great, as soon as we walked up to Fountain, there was a tweenage girl and her dad(?) arguing about it. Him: “Ah, that ain’t art mate.” Her: “Why not?” …And so forth. And I loved it, because really, is it art? No…but maybe? If it’s not, then what is? If it is, then what’s not? And in a weird, stupid way it symbolizes heaps of modern art to me. I have no idea what it means or symbolizes but whatever, urinals are never not funny. So art it is.
STANSTED: LESS HELLISH BUT STILL…
Remember our last trip to London where I said Stansted was one of Dante’s levels of hell? Yeah, I stand by that statement. This time, we were able to catch the tube to Liverpool Street station and from there caught the Stansted Express. This time, we had prepaid but it’s still outrageously expensive. Probably cheaper than an Uber but still, when you book a cheap flight from Stansted seriously factor in like $30+ just to get to the bloody airport.
And yes, Stansted sucks. It wasn’t as crowded this time, but it is so insanely chaotic and overcrowded (just less so) that it’s miserable. I hate it very much. And just like last time, the Priority Pass Lounge had signs saying it was to capacity and could not allow anyone in. But, cool enough, just like last time they let us in because we were only 2 people and our flight was leaving relatively soon. Despite being obviously stressed, the staff was really nice and I have since emailed our thanks for their hospitality. It’s a quiet oasis amidst chaos and the food and Diet Coke ain’t bad neither. From there, we caught a 3 hour flight to Malaga and had a wonderful adventure.
FAST FORWARD TO LATER…DON’T WALK FROM HEATHROW AIRPORT TO ANYWHERE
Our final stop a week later through London en route to Reykjavik and home was simply a stopover. We didn’t get in until after 10pm and to put it frankly, it sucked. I booked the Travelodge Heathrow Terminal 5 hotel thinking, I don’t know, it was accessible from terminal 5 or something. Stupid me. Turns out there’s no public transport there, only this stupid hourly bus that is INSANELY overcrowded that goes to a ton of hotels and is something like €9 each (round trip) to get anywhere. And, naturally, they told us we could use any contactless card and yet when the bus came, neither of our cards worked. So after waiting over an hour, we were unable to get anywhere. I know, I know, we should have had cash, but all we were doing was sleeping and leaving London so I didn’t want to get ripped off via exchange rate.
Anyways, we looked at the black cab prices and it was legitimately something like €80 for what Google told us was a 10-minute drive. So we used some London alternative to Uber (MyTaxi maybe?) and the dude apparently came and left and we never found or saw him. By this point, it’s after 11pm and we couldn’t get the app to get us a car so we walked. From Heathrow. To our hotel. 2.1 miles. At close to midnight. In London’s creepy cold damp fog.
For the uninformed, this part of town is super remote and desolate. Oh, and there’s no footpaths (sidewalks for all you Yanks) since it’s so remote and desolate, so we were literally walking along the side of the freeway leaning as far to the shoulder as we could when cars passed. Luckily, there wasn’t heaps of traffic but unluckily, nobody picked us up as I hitchhiked. And for some reason, Caitlin got scared and angry when I sang Suffer Little Children by the Smiths as we walked through a dark and unlit area. Dunno why.
Finally, we got to the hotel…and couldn’t get in. It’s surrounded by a forest and we didn’t realize you have to walk down this industrial road to get in by foot. It sucked, I’ll just say that. It was only an hour walk, but we were hungry, tired, not stoked to carry our bags for 2 miles, and frustrated. Not ideal. Nevertheless, the trip ruled and we flew to Reykjavik the next morning.