Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Day #9: The one with the cultural confusion

The day started with the search for a great little cafe for a decent cup of coffee (no the instant coffee & whitener is not doing the trick!), and a quick breakfast.  We were envisioning a sidewalk cafe, tiny tables, and little cappuccino cups - you know the scene - but, we quickly realized it was Paris we were dreaming about.  What started as a simple search led to a lazy stroll through a new part of town.  We headed up the southbank a little further, as we made our way past Waterloo station and towards the Thames.  We weren't quite seeing the little Parisian type coffee bar we were hoping to find, so we just kept heading down the road.  We eventually rounded the bend, and staring us in the face was the enormous and beautiful Westminster Palace!  It doesn't matter how many times you see it, it's grandeur never seems to fade!  We had a great view of Big Ben from across the river, and of course snapped a few pictures (to be posted soon, promise).  

It started to rain (surprise-surprise) and we watched as all of the tourists in the area sprinted for cover!   We of course had wonderful, brand new umbrellas (Thanks Mama Kim!) at the flat, but had gotten a little spoiled by the amazing weather since we've been here.  Needless to say, we were stuck in the rain without even a newspaper to cover our heads.  We ducked into a little souvenir stand and decided to look around.  Little did we know, we were walking into a Russian tour bus madhouse.  Within seconds, we were surrounded by yelling parents, pushy teens, and children practically ducking under our legs to get to the front of the stand.  Keychains were flying, William and Kate statue replicas were being scooped up by the handful, and bears dressed as palace guards were getting dropped into puddles.  What a zoo!  It was like being in a park with a bag of birdseed.  You throw out a handful and find yourself knee deep in pigeons each climbing over each other to get a piece of the action.  

We got out while we could!  By this time we were closer to brunch than breakfast and finally settled for a restaurant between the biggest tourist attractions in all of London (not our finest decision!)  We ate breakfast in a place that was clearly 'culturally confused!'  In an effort to accommodate the masses, this place had huevos rancheros, full English breakfasts, massive cheeseburgers, and sushi.  While we ate our eggs, beans, and salty pork product (or 'BAM' affectionally coined by us because of it's similarity to both bacon and ham) we listened to the wonderful spanish stylings of the Gypsy Kings.  OH YEAH - they did have our coffee....and tea, horchata, or saki (depending on your cultural needs).  

By the time we were done, the sun had come out so we headed for The Eye.  Up we went to take in the incredible views from the 443 ft. ferris wheel.  After that we strolled down the wharf, watched professional sandcastle sculptors (yes they have sand here!), and the closest thing we've seen to Rob Dyrdek's posse.  Under the National Theater, 20 some BMX/skaters turned and twisted up the ramps and tried not to hit their heads on the low ceiling - wicked!  Before long we looked at our watches and the panic set in.  We were an hour away from where we needed to be for our appointment with our potential landlord and had only 30 minutes until the meeting started!  We Forest Gumped our rear ends toward the nearest tube station.  

With sweat dripping down our backs we finally got on the train and hoped for the best!  What do you know....we encountered 'poor service,' delays, and even a completely stopped train claiming there was a 'red signal error!'  Did we mention we didn't get cell service?  Fantastic.  You all know the feeling - you have somewhere to be and the time it takes to get there feels like years have gone by.  Well, we finally made it about 20 minutes late (CLASSIC SINGLETON!) and found our potential new landlord, Paul, to be a delight!  We sat down for a brief interview and midday way through, were interrupted by his assistant offering refreshments of biscuits, cakes, and baklava - we were in the middle of our first English/Greek tea party and the mix of cultural confusion continued.  At the end of the meeting, we were informed that our housing confirmation was waiting on our credit check from the states.  Paul invited us to lunch on Friday and we took that as a good sign!  

So after walking 4 miles, running one, stalled trains, and culturally confused dining experiences we decided to bring it on back to the classic pint.  We found a new little pub called The Libertine and, what do you know, we were just in time for happy hour.  Some things really do come together - Cheers!

Lesson Learned:  Bring umbrellas (even if the sun is out), don't dine near the two largest tourist destinations, and never turn down Greek-lish tea and crumpets.  


  1. what would you call it if you ate bacon and pork in Alabama?

    BAMA BAM!!

  2. Love the lessoned learned, and the socially late thing sure didn't come this side of the gene pool!