Friday, July 20, 2007

Eurotrip: Albion

When the Eurostar reaches full speed, going into a tunnel - not just the one under the sea, but any little overpass - generates a sort of blast wave that makes your ears pop.

First leg of the Eurotrip is now done, and I am on my way to Paris, typing this up in the absense of a network connection. (In Estonia, there'd be free WiFi.) I've been drinking since last Friday, and somehow all three nights in London ended in the same row of bars under the railway arches behind Southwark tube station. Saw the Tower and the Science Museum, as well as a small museum dedicated to the Blitz. Refused to pay money for the Tower Bridge museum, HMS Belfast, the Golden Hind... The tourist meme is that London's museums are free, but actually that only applies to a few, and most of those involve a lot of paintings. I don't have the patience for art galleries.

London is covered by CCTV. The British are famously scared by the prospect of national ID cards, or any form of mandatory identification in fact. For me, as for most Europeans, this is a non-issue. Where Britain has a surveillance culture, Estonia has a visibility culture; you don't worry about being watched, but you do know that you are being seen. The highly advanced and integrated systems of the Estonian civil service mean that things are a lot less obtrusive. Like the howlingly inferior plumbing, this is only one more aspect of Britain's love of tradition getting the better of it - and of Estonia doing a Germany/Japan-like trick of prospering through starting from a blank sheet.

I've yet to meet a Brit who actually likes the double taps. Or one who could explain to me their proper intended usage.

Gorged myself on Waterstone's last night. I've mentioned before that it's very hard for me to find appealing reading material. I don't read translations on general principle - professional hazard, the artefacts are too distracting - and I'm not interested in anything Russian writers have to say. (I've read just enough of Viktor Pelevin to have the moral justification to say I don't like him.) I've got about five new books now, which should hold me over for a bit. There's another Waterstone's in Amsterdam, though I'm not exactly sure if I'll have the time to give it the attention it deserves. I arrive in Amsterdam on Monday afternoon, and will go to a Blondie concert with a person from the Internet.

Was walking around central London last night, and got an iced white chocolate mocha* at a Cafe Nero right next to Tiger Tiger - the posh club that failed to be blown up by terrorists recently, though my Londoner friends say it should've been.

Alcohol and coffee. I'm trying to stick to healthy eating - restaurants rather than fast food, proper meat & vegetable meals - but my stimulant intake density is far beyond normal levels. And I've still got Amsterdam to do, remember. This isn't actually too bad, as it does promote the sort of consciousness shift I'm chasing in putting together the Eurotrip - constructing a travel personality that's different from your everyday one.

Who knew that ordering a large latte in a pub in Waterloo station entails a pint of coffee? I'm not even kidding here. It was "large" in the same way that a drink in a multiplex cinema is "large".


* Yes, yes, I know that every time you drink a cold coffee, God kills a little Colombian kitten. At least this one was quite good.


Jens-Olaf said...

Will it be Blondie, the New Wave saga from the 80s?

antyx said...

I'm guessing, yes...


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