12/27/08

Travel Diaries from Over Seas...First there was London...


Jeff and I arrived in London after almost 15 hours of travel. Well longer if you include the wait time at the airport. We had to fly to Paris first and then to London and then took the "tube" into East London where my cousin Anya's husband Eric met us. Anya and Eric are our first stop on our trip. They are a fabulous couple, smart, beautiful, talented...an architect and a writer and we adore them. By the time we saw Eric, we had been up for over a day but with the time difference it was now night and we were delirious.

First off, I can not believe how crowded London is. It had been about 20 years since my last visit and somehow it is even more congested, expensive and dirtier than I remembered. I love London, but once upon a time I considered it on my list of cities I could live in and now, only if I was really rich. I would need to be really rich to live a comfortable, modest life in the heart of the city, or else like a lot of people I would have to move to the countryside, which is gorgeous, but, I am a city girl.

Back to London... We hop a bus without fare! And hope that no one will notice. We don't have the correct change and it is rush hour, and we cram in so tight that I can smell what everyone has eaten all day. Odors cling to clothes in the damp and for some reason the bus smells like urine. I will soon realize that the bus always smells like urine, probably because a few people on it fail to realize that it is actually a bus, and not a latrine. There is a very large, very young girl who keeps staring at me and my suitcase and being the friendly that I am, I smile at her and genuinely expect a smile back. However all I hear are mutterings of how "that woman won't stop staring at me," and I quickly focus on one of the many unfriendly faces that are still on the bus and staring at my suitcase. Later I will learn that it is in part due to the neighborhood that I am in. It's a little bit rough around the edges in the way that any big city can be, changing from block to block. Thankfully we hop off and make our way to meet Anya at a lovely coffee shop where we have a brief catch up and head back to her flat to meet up with her later for a dinner that Eric is cooking.

Their flat is great. Small, neat, new and well..cold. But this is the way it was everywhere we went in England. Even with the heat on full Eric warns me, one is always cold. It's the damp, and the fact that the houses weren't really built for central heat or properly insulated. Everyone walks around with a "lurgy" cough and is freezing but doesn't expect to be anything else during the winter. This kind of denial of one's actual climate has always made me crazy. It's like living through summer in L.A. without air conditioning, because no one is willing to admit that it gets unbearably hot and that summer lasts not for two but five months of the year!

Back at the flat we collapse into small heaps while Eric uncorks several bottles of wine for us and cooks us a feast. We eat smoked fish, broccoli with chili's, salad with pomegranate, and cheese and bread and chocolate! We stay up talking for hours and it is great to hear similar tales of adjusting to life in a new city, in a new country, and in a new culture. They have been in London as long as we have been in L.A. and the mutual trials and tribulations are comforting. It is wonderful to see them. We have missed them. And that night we fall asleep tipsy and full and huddled under every blanket they have, with the heat turned on high and the sounds of cars splashing in rain outside the window.

1 comment:

charleystar said...

awesome! love the part about londoners & los angelenos in denial about their weather. so true! :) sounds like u & jeff r having a great trip. happy new year and see you soon back in l.a.

 
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