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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Cycling in London

UNITED KINGDOM | Saturday, 15 March 2008 | Views [990]

Kensington Park

Kensington Park

Today I landed in London, the beginning of my 7th journey! And a worthy one at that! I went through Customs and the immigration officer stamped my passport on top of another stamp. I don't know why the hell he did that, but oh well. So, I got my bike and I had to reassemble it because I had to take it apart and deflate the tires and all that. It took me like an hour and then I had to try to find a way out of Heathrow Airport. While asking for directions to Central London, one man asked if I have any experience of riding on the left; I was in Australia, so I do! The skies were gray and it started to rain a little. I then realized my odometer wasn't working, and I was really upset about that! I felt like Murphy's Law was getting to me. Anyways I noticed the beautiful architecture and it looks indirectly similar to Iceland's. I stopped at a gas station and got a Red Bull and a bottle of water and I then kept cycling away until I spotted a bike shop. A young man fixed my odometer for me! Traffic was backed up and I kept thinking about all the money I'm saving by bringing my bike. On the way I stopped at a bank and got some pounds sterling. For $100 I only got £45.The exchange rate is just awful right now! The ride to Central London was about 15 miles and took over an hour. London is a very beautiful city with a lot of vibe. Recently I finished reading a book called "The Ghost Map." It's about the cholera outbreak in London in 1854. I can't imagine this city having such terrible fortunes. At the gate of Kensington Park I got a photo with an English telephone booth, and then founded out where Big Ben and all the cool stuff is. I rode past Buckingham Palace, and I can't help but wonder how Her Majesty the Queen handles all the tourists out front every day. I cycled over to Big Ben and there was a big march; protesting the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. I got some photos and then hung out on a bridge along River Thames. At 4:00, Big Ben rang. An interesting thing I learned is that "Big Ben" is actually the bell inside the tower, not the tower itself. The tower is St. Stephen's Tower and is the tallest of the towers in the Palace of Westminster. At 4:30 I was getting tired from the jet lag. I didn't bring a map or a guidebook or anything like that, so I had to search around for directions to my hostel. I asked a constable (police officer) and he helped me out. London is not on a grid street pattern, so it's very easy to get lost. It was raining and was still lost, so I stopped at a hotel and got a free map. By then I was hungry, so I stopped and got a chicken nugget meal at McDonald's. It's not much more expensive here than back home. Right near there is the Marble Arch, so I could see that and the golden arches together. After eating a constable warned me not to ride my bike on the sidewalk or I'd risk a ticket. I was finally on track when I thought I'd stop at the internet cafe. At area I was in is a heavy Middle Eastern district. London is very multicultural just like Los Angeles, but there seems to be more of a variety of cultures. You see people from Nigeria, Somalia, and many other countries. After an hour at the cafe, I rode to my hostel, all while continuing to get lost. I ended on a couple of side streets before finally making it there. I still owed a balance of 14 pounds, so I paid that. The desk attendant is a young Polish man about my age. The European Union allows citizens of all of its countries to move and work freely around all of them. From the outside, the hostel looks like a rundown warehouse, but it is rather cute and looks like a less classy version of the Salvation Army in Reykjavik. After putting my stuff away I ran across the street to a little convenience store and got some devon custard, a can opener, and a Red Bull. One thing I've realized is that London is not as expensive as I thought. It is much cheaper than Reykjavik and not much more expensive than back home. On the way back to the hostel I accidently bumped into a little girl and her mother pushed me. I tried to apologize, but she didn't seem to be accepting of it. Either way it has been a good day. I cycled more than 20 miles today. Anyways, I'm exhausted and I have another long day tomorrow. Good night!

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