Saturday November 16 2013, first day in London.
As I’m typing this down my feet hurt and my spine feels rigid of a day spend walking, yesterday we were told in the bus that we had to pay a fee of 170 euro in total which included each and every single event the coach tour was taking part in, which is crazy. I took 300 pound with me to spend on a guitar in Denmark street and if I had done the whole guided tour that would have cost me more than half of the budget I have. It was bad enough that I have to pay for the banquet and the night tour of the city, I mean come on, couldn't they have said that in the brochure?
So I quickly opted out of that, deciding that I would discover on my own what London has to offer. And our tour hostess with her shrill voice and motormouth was driving me nuts already. So as the bus drove to St. Paul’s cathedral where there would be a tour as was glad not to be a part of that since the hostess promised to explain us about everything she knew about the cathedral. (To my fellow travelers who DID take the guided tour, my deepest sympathies...)
“We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto.”
Anyway, I’m in London and the first thing I set out to do was walk to Denmark Street where again I saw a lot of cool stuff but since I didn't know exactly how much I owed the hostess, decided to keep my wallet closed.
A Crazy custom bass in silverflake with a whammy bar.
At Hank’s they had a Brian Eastwood “Bernadette O” which is made to look like a Benedetto archtop that melted away in the sun.
The craziest thing about that guitar, apart from the shape of course, is that the body was made from chip wood and credit where it’s due, Eastwood did a stellar job as the guitar looked absolutely fantastic.
One brand that isn't available in my country is Hutchens, which reissues the kind of guitars that British beginner musicians would have played in the late sixties: think Hofner, Vox and Framus and the likes. One guitar for sale at Maccari’s (Famous shop!) that had me VERY tempted was this cool and funky Hofner-like One pickup Paisley number, which sounded like nothing I ever played before.
After leaving the shops I came across this very beautiful statue of Agatha Christie I took this picture of
And then I took a London Taxi to visit the sight I didn't get to see the previous time I was there: the Imperial War Museum.
BUT as luck would have it the main hall was closed off because of renovations which meant that all the Vehicles and planes I intended to see were removed, oh bugger.
So I went back to Trafalgar to shop, I bought some collectible Dragonball Z cans of fruit drinks (They taste terrible: Imagine cherry bubblegum as a carbonate drink) and hit a comic shop which at I bought a trade paper bag of eighties Wolverine comics and a Videl Satan figurine.
Some of the Transformers merch they had.
By then it was already getting dark and I was getting hungry, I was at a vintage magazine shop and asked one of the store people if they knew a good pizza place. As luck would have it she was of Italian heritage and gave me a good one and directions on how to get there.
Christmas decorations at Piccadilly.
The Pizza was pricey but surprisingly good, I have to keep this one in mind next time I’m going.
After dinner I went down Piccadilly to visit the Hardrock cafe but if you want to eat there: forget it, you have to wait for over an hour to get inside. But if like me, you went in there to use the toilet, no problem. I saw several guitars on display that had the “wow-factor” but also a couple that made me go “ Hell no.” Among them was a nineties Epiphone SG signed by John Lennon and a Gibson ES-345 Stereo guitar that apparently belonged to Jimi Hendrix.
But then I was given the privilege to enter the Vault which has some pretty Iconic stuff: a Gibson Les Paul that belonged to Les Paul (A personal, the one with the goose neck microphone) a Fifties Fender Esquire that belonged to Jeff Beck and the Gibson Flying V Jimi Hendrix used at his performances at Maui and the Isle of Wight in 1970. The Jacket which John Lennon wore at his 1972 concert in New York, Slash’s outfit and “Snakepit“ signature Gibson he used at the first Snakepit tour back in 1995, Bill Wyman’s Travis Bean bass, an Ampeg Scroll bass belonged to John Entwistle and a Gene Simmons owned Kramer AXE bass.
So for the heck of it I asked the guard if he would photograph me with the Gene Simmons AXE.
ROCK N ROLL!
However, even the vault had some “Yeah right” instruments, such as a right handed Fender Jazzmaster that apparently belonged to Kurt Cobain. There are NO pictures of Cobain ever owning or playing a Sunburst Jazzmaster and even though it was strung to be played like a lefty, it didn't have the strap button on the lower bout so it could be strapped on lefthanded and all the mods that Kurt’s guitar tech Earnie Bailey did to all his guitars (fitting a Gibson style bridge and a humbucker at the bridge) weren't there.
Right now I’m sitting at my Mac Laptop tying all of this down in my hotel room and I wonder: did any of you who are British notice that the BBC repeats “Pirates of the Caribbean” ever single week?
Well then see you tomorrow.
Sunday November the 17’th
I always considered Amsterdam to be the city where you lose time the quickest but London has trumped it: when we left this morning at nine O’clock I had made my plans and was going to stick with them which as it was the case wasn't really much of a good idea.
Our Hostess, who was starting to sound really hoarse (not surprisingly seeing as how she simply cannot shut her yap) told me the time and place where the bus would be waiting to pick me up after the tour was over. As I’m typing this down it’s 8:40 in the evening and I arrived at the hotel early using the subway and I called her to say that they don’t need to wait for me since I’m already there.
The first thing I visited when getting off the bus was the London Aquarium, which had a hefty admission rate of 20 pound and an even more hefty price for the photograph they took of me in front of a green screen which makes it look as if I were about to be chomped up by a shark. I decided not to buy the picture because I reckoned that I might need some cash to buy something cool at Denmark street.
But first I took a London bus to Trafalgar square to walk to Hyde park and visit the Natural history museum, as we stopped to pick up people at the Parliament building I took a picture of the Big Ben
I underestimated the distance between green park and Hyde Park but as I walked out of Green Park I came across this very fancy piece of real estate.
Buckingham palace is truly a sight to see, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking
But roughly half an hour later I still hadn't arrived at the museum so I figured to hail a taxi to get me there. Now London taxies are quick and nimble and their drivers are friendly but I quickly noticed that this guy was going the long way round as we drove in the wrong direction past Buckingham palace again. It cost me 10 pounds to get to the Museum.
The Natural History Museum is something else, I was in awe with their collection, I always wanted to see the Blue whale and there it was in front of my eyes. But beautiful as it was it was also kind of sad: most of the animals on display come from an era where the term “ Bring ‘ em back alive.” was something completely alien to the scientists of the day.
I mean look at the skeletons of the whales surrounding the Blue whale: there’s a Northern Right Whale, a Bowhead, a Spermwhale, a Grey whale and above the Blue whale the skeleton of an actual Blue whale. How did the museum get those skeletons?
They pretty much have everything on display there: birds, insects, reptiles, Fish, Mammals, invertebrates, crustations, the lot. And not just in display cases and suspended from the ceiling but also in plenty of Jars and all of them came there by the same way.
The Museum was in some way a perverse fancy graveyard.
After leaving the museum I decided to get myself a day card for the subway and went back to Piccadilly determent to visit the shops at Denmark street once more although my money had been depleted to the point that buying something cool was no longer an option. Add to the fact that the really cool shops like Hank’s and Maccari’s were closed, I couldn't even get some surplus necks and parts.
So then I decided to instead get myself some DVD’s and something good and hefty to eat, I ate at Angus steak and life was good.
It’s funny: half of the month is already over and it’s getting chillier by the day but I walked with my jacket unzipped and my baseball cap all soggy from my sweat. My feet are absolutely throbbing right now.
Speaking of things getting chilly: check this out: the hotel room doesn't have a fridge but it does have an insulating double window which has enough space between the outer panel and the inner panel to place my drinks so they can be cooled the natural way.
Just outside the frame are my shoes and socks as the cold air refreshes them to the point where I can wear them comfortably again.
Tomorrow will see the long journey back home but this second trip has learned me some valuable lessons:
- The Tube is the cheapest way to get where you want to go, I even learned that there’s one going to Hendon, so on my next visit the Air force Museum will be attended.
- NEVER go with this coach tour again since they never mentioned the additional costs on their site, let alone their brochure.
I wonder how many emails I have gotten in my absence, since I also had to pay an additional Fee in the hotel for WIFI.
I’ll be glad to sleep in my own bed tomorrow night but it was nice to have been somebody who knows nobody and isn't addressed with his first name for a couple of days, to be away from the man I am at home.
So tomorrow I’ll be Wouter Jaegers again.
I hope you guys liked my report on two days in London, I’m about to watch the DVD’s I mentioned earlier and have a good rest.
Sunday 17 November supplement.
Well when I looked out of my hotel room window I spotted a petrol station with an all night store just a short walk from the hotel and since I didn't get the opportunity to do what I love to do most when on vacation, to walk into such a store and buy something that’s not available in my country, I figured what the hell.
I sure wasn't disappointed with what I found either. The British have sense of humor about just everything, including the names of their snacks and so I bought two bags of the funniest sounding snacks they had.
I mean who cares if they end up tasting terrible, “Wotsits” and “Oddities” were just too funny to leave alone.
“Really Cheesy” by their own account.
London I love you, you’re like a long legged woman who might might be a cruel mistress but her sense of humor and her spice are hard to resist.
Monday 18 November. “On behalf of everybody of the crew I welcome you to Kelly harbor.”
- As was spoken by the captain of the vessel that took us back to the mainland, funny how he still cannot pronounce “Calais” after having docking there for god knows how many times.
At the moment of typing I’m in the coach stuck in traffic at the interstate going to Antwerp Belgium, Miss motormouth has been engulfed into the boring sugary sweet Christmas movie that our driver has put on.
I hate Christmas movies with passion, it’s all so watered down family entertainment and as safe as a nun’s underpants, And it’s damn near impossible to escape this one since it’s been put on full blast through the PA system of the bus.
It’ll take us roughly about an hour to get back to the city of Eindhoven where I need to get a train back to Sittard and then a bus to get back home.
And woe on me it will be a pretty boring trip, the first thing I can look forward to is when I have to changes buses, since the coach has a different destination I’m travelling in. When that happens I’ll be rid of Ms. Motormouth.
Perhaps it’s just of being tired but I’m rather cranky at the moment, My first thing of order on what to do once I get home is take a shower, have something good to eat and sit in my lazy chair with the TV on watching what I want to see.
For three days I was in London being somebody else, even to myself and it felt good and I’m recharged, exhausted but recharged regardless.
It’s 16:30 right now and in a few hours you will all see this online and hopefully like to read about it all.