Monday, May 30, 2011

Liverpool

  • I walked into the Beatles Story museum and went straight to the Starbucks inside to eat lunch.  After I ate, I opened my backpack which was on the ground and took a sip of water from a long tube that was connected to a plastic three liter sack inside the pack.  I then decided to get coffee.  While in line I was approached by a man and a woman in suits.  The following conversation ensued:
    Woman: Do you speak English?
    Me: Yes.
    Woman: What were you doing with that pipe in your backpack over there?
    Me: Drinking water.
    Woman: Okay…
    Me: Would you like to see it?
    Woman: … yes.  Let’s go over to the side here.  You see it’s illegal to smoke inside in the UK and this being the Beatles Museum.
    I opened my bag, showed them the sack and then they kind of looked surprised.
    Can you imagine?
    Interestingly enough, five minutes later the fire alarm went off and the whole building was evacuated.
  • There was a pretty big football (the sport where the foot is used a lot) game on and I had just arrived at the hostel.  I made a grilled cheese sandwich and sat down in the common room which had about twenty people in it drinking and watching one TV.  There was a girl there that didn’t appear to be that interested in the game about to come on and I started talking with her.  She had just begun her long European backpacking adventure that day.  She asked me a question about how my trip got started and I answered, “I feel like I need a beer…do you want to come get a beer with me?”  Twenty minutes later we were drinking cider in a park (which at the time I thought was legal).  Ten minutes later I was in the process of answering her earlier question and she said, “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I really have to pee.”  I said, “Well, you’re in luck because I am a public urination expert.”  Instructions were given and followed.  De nada. 
  • I had some of my best conversations of the trip so far in Liverpool.  Best night out of the trip so far was a laid back Friday evening in one of the oldest bars in Liverpool with an Indian and an Italian.  At one point we were discussing food and the Indian told us about the first time he had steak a couple years ago.  The Italian said, “I wish I could have steak for the first time again.”  I concurred.
  • Alcohol has been forcing its way into my budget.
  • One morning I was eating breakfast and witnessed a girl speaking angry German at a toaster that wasn’t performing to her standards.  It was a scary thing to witness.
  • So far in Great Britain I have come across “Southern Fried Chicken”, a “Cajun Chicken Burger”, and “Creole Soup.”  The word is out.
  • I think the best way to be disappointed on a trip to the UK is to expect good weather on any day.
  • I met a guy who was originally from Liverpool and was traveling around Europe looking for places to live for a few months before moving on.  He was probably around fifty or sixty.  I think he’s the first person of that age I have randomly met that was genuinely interesting in me and my travels.
  • I want to slow down, but haven’t been able to make myself yet.
  • Next up: Scotland.

Bold Street with Cathedral in background

Near Albert Dock

Notice elderly people crossing sign

John Lennon Peace Monument

Buildings around Albert Dock

Path along river leading to Liverpool Bay

Notice Liverpool "summer" clothing

Replica of Cavern pub where Beatles used to play.  Also location of first gathering of Girls Gone $%@ crazy.



Big Important Building

Cathedral that got bombed during WWII



In Liverpool World Museum

On bus from Cardiff to Liverpool

Apparently Liverpool has one of oldest China towns in Europe.


This Cathedral is huge.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cardiff


  • My first night in Cardiff I had a cheese and marmalade sandwich with a Brains beer.  That’s a brand by the way – not a flavor or ingredient.  Alcohol really isn’t in my budget, but every time I inquire about a beer’s flavor I am given multiple free samples at which point I feel that I must order one even if it is served warm.
  • I think there was a rugby match at some point because the first night there were around fifteen middle-aged French men wearing jerseys and toasting each other in the hostel lobby.
  • I heard such a cacophony of bells coming from a tower during one evening walk that I was sure the Queen must have given birth to another child.
  • I hate my bank.
  • I lucked into a one on one tour of the living areas of Cardiff Castle and ended up having a very interesting conversation with the guide about the direction our countries headed after WWII.
  • I had my best experience of the trip so far in Cardiff Castle: I sat through an air raid audio simulation in a Norman tunnel in a castle that was used as a bomb shelter.  Being in the place they were, hearing the sounds they heard taught me more about what WWII was like for the citizens of Europe than reading any amount of books ever will.  The guide said that sometimes people had flashbacks during the simulation so they had to tone it down.
  • After talking to the Cardiff Castle guide and watching BBC, it is very clear how deeply most British value the “special” relationship their country has with America.  They seem to pay much, much more attention to what is going on across the Atlantic than what is going on across the English Channel.
  • I have tried many different ways to take 20 minute naps, but they always turn into 2 hour naps.  I’m about to just give in.
  • It’s really cool learning about local history in Europe because it is so rich.  From Stone Age to Roman invasions to fighting Napoleon, to creating a vast empire.  I found it interesting that Great Britain was a land of tribes that lived off the land until the Romans showed up and imposed new technologies and religion on them while exporting their natural resources considering what would happen a few years down the road in a different part of the world.
  • On my last evening I ate at a Chicken Sandwich restaurant where I had the option of different levels of spicy sauces.  I ended up asking for the second hottest one not because I really wanted a spicy meal but because as a Louisianian I couldn’t bring myself to order something mild in Great Britain.  It was indeed hot.
  • There was a McDonald’s across from my hostel advertising weekly specials for “Great Tastes of America”…
Skate park near Cardiff Bay

Near City Centre

Sailboats in Cardiff Bay.  I think they were racing.

Marina near wetland preserve.

Swan family in the midst of wetland preserve.



Along Bute Street.

City Hall

In Alexandra Gardens

View from Norman Keep in Cardiff Castle

American Flag flying on old Roman castle...does it get anymore badass than this?

Future shopping mall.  Kidding! Bute Park.

Cardiff Castle

Norman Keep in Cardiff Castle

Old WWII air raid shelter in Cardiff Castle

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bristol


  • Passed three people hittin’ the hash on the fifty minute walk from Coach (Bus) Station to hostel.
  • I was waiting for my food at an Indian fast food restaurant and there was a newspaper on the counter so I decided to see what was going on in Bristol.  I turned the page and was shocked to find a half page picture of a topless woman.  I almost showed the page to the worker at the counter and asked if that was normal.
  • Ran into my first hostel communal shower situation, but luckily I timed mine such that I didn’t have to share.
  • I’ve been staying two nights in the last couple of places, but I think three is a good number for a city that has more than one thing worth seeing.

Kayak Water Polo

River Avon




This path shared by pedestrians, bicycles, cars and trains


The ship on the right was the largest in the world in its day.


Whatchu Lookin' At?

This is about when I decided I really liked Bristol.

View from Brandon Hill.







Not the best picture, but this guy earned his spot on this blog. He's standing on a rope tied between two trees.


Lots of people live on their boats here.

Queen Square

Pub and Music Venue