I lost my pen! I knew I should have brought 2 with me. Oh well, now I have a new one anyway; and it says "The British Museum" on it! That’s right, I safely arrived in London and found my way to my hotel (and the museum, which is just down the street), but not without some trouble, of course.
Here's a travelers tip for you: always listen to you mom. Mom told me that once I got my luggage – after having to fill out a form twice because I was overtired and wasn't totally sure what it meant by "Where did you come from?" Sure, it sounds simple now, but if you're jet-legged and exhausted it wasn't very simple at all! – I had to make my way to the London Underground. I was to take a train from Gatwick Airport straight to the Victoria line, and then to Piccadilly Circus and I should be a half block from my hotel. Instead of listening to my mom, however, I asked the Information Booth worker for directions. He told me to take the Belfast train to another train station and it'll get me there in "no time". Well, as you can tell, I forgot what the name of the first stop was and I ended up having a lovely 2-hour tour around London!
Or, it should have been lovely. I believe I went straight through the slums of the city for the majority of the train ride for I have never seen houses in such ruin! The houses all appeared to be collapsing, with slanted foundations and mold covering the rooftops. Many buildings had broken walls, looking as if they had been in disrepair since the Blitz. Tarps covered some of the broken walls like curtains and broken furniture lay sporadically in the yards. Then, the train took a turn and I saw something completely bizarre. I saw a huge clearing with trees on the far side and dozens if not scores of lean-to shelters. Some were made of wood, while others look liked scrap metal. I couldn't believe my eyes! Was this really London – the once grandest city in the world?
Finally, I got out of the subway at a stop I recognized – the Victoria Line. From there I took a quick train to Piccadilly Circus and was just a few blocks away from Russell Square. Of course, throughout this whole train-hopping adventure I didn't have my camera out to record it. I think I have 3 pictures now. And of course, right now while I write this, both my cameras are in my backpack in the basement of the Imperial Hotel while I tour the city until they can let me have access to my room.
I began writing this in the beautiful Russell Square, once torn down and used to transport tanks during World War II, but now I have moved back to the hotel. The weather turned on me and the wind picked up. There is also the smell of rain in the air, which is odd for me; it’s March and I still expect snow. Oh well, I supposed it's time to see if I can get into my room yet. I’ll write later.
PS: I can see how realistic the Orwell’s "1984" is now. The train station had such a cold, mechanical, business drone to it that I swiftly loss my urge to explore. To add to that, there were intercoms in every direction warning people to watch out for "suspicious behavior". There were so many warnings that I was afraid to even think about doing something out of line!
PPS: From my previous entry, the "Romanian" I sat beside was actually from London. I guess I'm not very good at identifying accents yet!
PPPS: This last passage was very miserable. I should lay off Bram Stroker while I’m here. Or maybe get some sleep. To me, it’s 4 in the morning.
I attempted to sleep, but just like over Greenland, sleep eluded me. Also, my mind was telling me to call my parents and tell them I got here safely. I tried a few times but I got no answer. I hope everything is okay with my calling card. I'll try calling my girlfriend in a few hours (if my math is right, she probably just left for school). If she doesn't answer then I know there's something wrong with this calling card.
I also went for a shower. I didn’t realize how badly I needed one! I feel bad for the people who stood beside me on the train. Afterwards, I tried to straighten my hair but after a few short minutes, smoke started emitting from my power converter. Maybe I'll go with curly hair for the remainder of my trip. I don't want to blow my converter and have my camera die again!
Speaking of my camera, it's fully charged now and ready to go for tomorrow. I went for a pre-shoot after my attempts to call home and had a wonderful time! I may have strayed a little into those strange areas I saw earlier, but I tried not to go too far into them.
Besides that, I also found beautiful parks, quaint side-streets and a very awe-inspiring church. I took a few pictures and wrote in a book in the church for blessings. There were people praying inside so I attempted my best to be quiet.
I also bought a few postcards and a T-shirt. London isn't as expensive as I heard it would be!
I should go get something to eat soon. I haven’t had a real meal since A&W at the Calgary airport. I believe there's a pub attached to this hotel – let's start there.
Dinner was alright. I went to the Day and Night pub and had a very nice waitress. Unfortunately, I know nothing about alcohol and when asked what I wanted to drink, I pointed to the only brand I recognized. Guinness. I sat down and took a sip of my "first ever beer" and Oh My God I never want to have beer again!! What a disgusting beverage!
But on the bright side, I got a hold of my parents afterwards. They "didn't hear the phone" when I called before. I'm just glad my calling card works!
Now I’m planning my trip around London tomorrow. Tomorrow should be fun – London, here I come!
And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
One of the most frequent questions I get asked – after "When is your next big trip?" – is how I can afford to travel so often. It can be tough to make ends meet, even with a fixed income. For a lot of people, the idea of saving up for a trip means making lifestyle sacrifices. It means going out for supper less, going to less movies, and spending less time out on the town.
For other people – especially younger people who are already struggling financially – this isn't even an option. They already make sacrifices to make ends meet. For a lot of today's youth, buying weekly groceries simply isn't possible. Telling them to spend less on luxury items isn't going to help them, since they already can't afford basic necessities. Not buying a $5 coffee every day isn't going to solve their problems, since they can't afford a $5 coffee to begin with.
I know this because I'm one of these people. I struggle to make ends meet, but I'm doing a lot better now than when I was fully employed. I can afford rent, go out for food once or twice a week, and I have a little bit extra to spend at the end of the month. This article isn't meant to tell people how if they just stop buying avocados they can afford a house in five years. This is a legitimate article about how to save money to travel the world. So, how do you do it?
As I stood in the courtyard of Fort Henry, I heard screams emanating from within. Fort Henry was constructed to protect the Kingston Royal Dockyard from the invading American forces during the War of 1812. The threat was so real that the capital of Canada – which was then Kingston – was moved to Quebec to protect it. The docks are all that stood between the United States and the St. Lawrence River and both countries were all too familiar with how easily it would turn the tides of battle.
As the screams from inside Fort Henry faded, I turned to the man beside me. He had come with his family. We got talking, trying to calm our nerves as bloodied clowns and undead mimes began wandering out from inside the fort.
If you've ever passed through Medicine Hat, or you're spending a few days in the area, you've probably wondered what to do there. To most people outside the city, Medicine Hat might seem like a sleepy little prairie town in the Canadian Badlands; but for those who live in Hell's Basement, they'll tell you that this city is one of the most exciting places you can explore in all of Alberta.
I've gone to Medicine Hat three times in the past two years, and while I'm no expert on this thriving city, I know where the hidden gems are. If someone I know is passing through the area, I tell them they need to visit Medicine Hat. To help explain why, I put an article together for anyone else interested in visiting the Hat.
If you're spending 24 hours in Medicine Hat, you'll need somewhere to sleep. Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is a little under an hour away and a great place to camp. Camping in Cypress gives you the choice to explore the park, the city, and everywhere in between.