Not even the locals like Dundee…

What I see: The 78 Bar, Glasgow

I boarded the bus to Dundee with a smile on my face and eyes full of vibrant Scottish landscape. As the coach neared Dundee, I became excited that I was reaching the ultimate destination of my trip. Upon stepping off the bus, I sought the location of the University, to find out that many of the locals were less than friendly. It ended up that I walked miles uphill in heavy shoes and a gentleman’s blazer with an overloaded backpack in search of the buildings which housed the conference. Three inquiries and several curses later, I found myself at West Park at the University of Dundee, less than impressed. I ate my complimentary lunch, spoke with a few of the conference attendees, and sought my professor to discuss our presentation.

(Un)fortunately, I haven’t any photographs from Dundee. I must return tomorrow to finish the presentation, so I will attempt to snap some then.

When I returned to Glasgow, I attempted to go to the ABC to see Deerhoof, only to find that it was sold out. There were some Uni students outside hoping to catch some scalpers, and I had a short conversation with them about food and drink around the city. After they recommended me several delightful places to eat and drink, I promptly neglected to use their advice and got some second-rate fish and chips. Then I wandered the streets of Glasgow in search of a pub that wasn’t trendy as fuck, found myself at a loss, and returned back to the hostel to find a delightful dive down the street, the 78, where I am now.

Another lager barkeep; I’m sleepin’ alone tonight.

Deerhoof in Glasgow!

Deerhoof will be playing at ABC Glasgow this evening at 7:00. Unfortunately, I will probably be occupied with the conference banquet in Dundee and unable to make it. It may not be in my best interest, but I might leave the conference early to make it to the concert… There aren’t many opportunities like this one.

A drink at Stansted.

I got off the train and made my way to the check-in counter at Ryanair. They told me check-in for my flight hadn’t begun yet, so I decided to get a drink at the bar. I happened to meet a lovely girl from Kent, who bought me a Chardonnay. We talked politics, religion, dreams, and destinies. It’s amazing the conversations you’ll have if you just say hello. I told her about my idea to travel across the country in a motorhome, and I was met with fascination, as she was seeking to leave her current position as a police officer to move to Australia and seek a similar lifestyle.

Aboard the Stansted Express.

I am sitting aboard a train in the Liverpool Street train station, bound for Stansted Airport. Unfortunately, I am accompanied by all of my baggage again, limiting my mobility. I do hope that Stansted has Internet access and public electricity; the old laptop needs a recharge.

London and I are starting to have a love-hate relationship on a grandiose scale. At the level of the individual, there are plenty of folks who will make you feel right at home, regardless of where you are from or what you believe. However, at large, London operates like an Orwellian dystopia. The Underground is flooded with automated announcements by a computerized British female voice, informing you of the train’s next destination. Large posters inform citizens about the improvements that are being made to the Underground to facilitate for more secure, faster, and robust travels. But through all of it, there is little sign of true compassion. London is not a community; rather, it is a system into which its citizens are so horribly integrated that they operate as mere cogs.

Fear-mongering is abound moreso than anywhere I’ve been in the United States. Signs warn citizens to be warned that they are being watched and will be prosecuted if a crime is committed. I witnessed a woman being accosted by the British Transport police and having her bag searched. Londoners, at least among those travelling aboard the Underground, have little or no sense of humor. I didn’t dare speak to any of them; it is almost as if there is an unwritten rule. I was tempted to break that rule, when I realized that the folks I would talk to may not take kindly to such behavior and might report it to the authorities, as they are instructed to over the loudspeakers several times per day.

As I travel out of central London, I am reminded that the United Kingdom isn’t completely close-circuited. What does Glasgow have to offer?

Shake-up at St. Christopher’s.

Blackfriars Bridge at sunset

Sunday morning. Londoners seem to adhere to blue laws of old: Hardly any shops are open Sunday morning. Luckily, Londoners love their coffee and tea and so I am able to blog.

Last night was an interesting course of events. I met up with some Americans and a New Zealander at the hostel and we had some bonding time over a few drinks at the pub. It was a good time, but I wish I could have met some locals. One Londoner stopped us on the street and asked us for directions. This was a good indicator of the sheer size of this city. He was an extremely friendly fellow and was infinitely amused at our use of the exclamation “Sweet!”

As soon as I was ready to turn in for the evening, things got interesting. The hostel I was staying at was split into two buildings on the same block of Borough High Street, St. Christopher’s Village and St. Christopher’s Inn. My first mistake was misreading my bed reservation as saying I was staying in Room 1 of the Village. I went upstairs and found myself locked out of the room. I then realized I was supposed to be at the Inn, and walked down the street to be accosted by two large fellows standing outside bouncing the hostel’s bar downstairs. I showed them my room key and they allowed me through. I went upstairs and slid my key card through the door of Room 1, to find myself locked out there as well. I sighed heavily, trudged down the stairs, down the street, and explained the problem to the receptionist. He slid my card through his magic machine and told me the key would work now. I huffed down the street yet again and collapsed into my bed. Twenty minutes later, a young British fellow entered the room and wondered what I was doing in his bed. I replied that I was unaware that the bed was taken. I sighed more heavily than before, slipped my shoes on, and walked down the street yet again. By now, I could tell the security guards outside were becoming mighty suspicious of my behavior. I explained the problem to reception and he punched some buttons on his computer. He looked up my name and told me I was actually supposed to be in Room 10 at the Inn. I suppose it was an honest mistake of the receptionist that booked me, but I was quite tired and thus, quite peeved. I walked back to the Inn and collapsed for the night.

I remember distinctly falling asleep to the sound of a pissed English fellow explaining his plan to punch some other fellow’s stomach in. I laughed inside and fell right asleep.

Today I might take a trip to Notting Hill before I have to board the train to Stansted Airport to catch my plane to Glasgow.

Notting Hill Gate.

I’m sitting outside an Apostrophe cafe at Notting Hill Gate. Before I hopped the Tube, I met up with a couple of Singaporean graphic designers at St. Christopher’s:

They are attending an exhibition at Lower Thames this week. We spoke about our business in Europe and our aspirations for the future. I may meet up with them again if I stay at St. Christoper’s when I return to London.

I am noticing my dialect and accent going the way of the Englishmen, even only after a few days. I cannot believe it myself. Perhaps I was meant to be here.

I happened to take some photographs around Notting Hill:

It’s about 3 in the afternoon and I’ll need to be getting back to Borough shortly to pick up my luggage and board the Tube to Liverpool Street to catch the train to Stansted. There I will be flying into Glasgow where I have a hostel accommodation. I look forward to seeing Glasgow as it may be my home for the duration of my Ph.D program. I have a feeling it will be a late night and an early morning. Until then, cheers.

A base of operations.

I found a hostel in Borough called St. Christoper’s which fortunately had a vacancy. I stowed my luggage away and embarked on my walk around the city. London is beautiful; it is a peculiar superimposition of modern architecture atop London’s iconic classical buildings. I’m sitting at a coffee shop outside St. Paul’s Cathedral.

What I See:

The CCTV around London is a bit disconcerting… They’ve really turned the city into a police state. It doesn’t feel particularly invasive, but I am struck every time I see a sign stating that the area is being monitored.

I had a chance to see the River Thames as well:

Unfortunately, I’m going to have to spend some time preparing for the conference this afternoon, so I won’t be able to do much sightseeing. I suppose it is to be expected; after all, it’s what brought me here in the first place.

Welcome to the Four Stars Hotel at London.

Morning. I have awkaken with a stomach full of Greek cuisine and a rested body. The hotel room has a peculiar bathroom arrangement; there is a small, closet-sized door which leads to a self-contained, extremely space-efficient stall. The sink and mirror share the stall with the shower.

There’s supposedly a continental breakfast downstairs, so I am about to find my way to a cup of coffee. Then it will be a long day of booking hostels and (hopefully) seeing some of historic London. I cannot afford to pay 50 pounds for a room again, so I do hope I will be able to find suitable accommodations.

Pubhopping at Picadilly.

I hopped the tube and found my way to Picadilly Circus:

St. Paul’s Underground Station

I floated around, finding many historic buildings and statues along the way:

Walking down a small side street, I happened upon a historic pub where I sat down and had a Strongbow:

Londoners are surprisingly friendly. The Underground is about as friendly as the Metro… eye contact is implicitly prohibited. However, I found that pubs and coffee houses have a vibe reminiscent of Ithaca.

Until next time…

Hopeless.


London. I am operating on no sleep and am slowly falling into a daze of perceived helplessness.

Customs was a nightmare. It was the factory-farmed fight to the finish that you hear about but never believe. I stood waiting in line for two hours. As soon as I spoke with the immigration officer, she asked of my business abroad. I told her everything I knew. One thing I did not know, and still do not know, is where I am to sleep tonight. 72 hours without sleep would be a catastrophe.

I have been here for five hours and have yet to step outside. This train is heading for Paddington Station. An Australian couple sits ahead of me and recommends that I find lodging accommodations at Paddington. They, as everyone else, told me I should have made reservations ahead of time. I told them they were right.

New York and London are strikingly similar thusfar. Everything is arbitrarily numbered, lettered, or named, and it requires a vocabulary of contextual babble in order to survive.

Armed with my granola bars imported from America and bags beneath my eyes the size of lady fingers, I must set out to face the city. Ciao.