Monday, April 6, 2009


Buckingham Palace with the Queen, y'all!

This weekend Soo-Young and I went to London, and I can report back saying London is a shameless, shameless place, and for that I loved it.

Our school had a really good deal on extra round trip tickets to London because a class trip going there wasn’t full. We snatched them and took the Eurostar. Settling into my seat, I realize that the simultaneous class trip was headed by my Art History teacher—the meanest, hardest teacher I’ve ever had—and I started to get nervous. She walks by my seat to go to the bathroom, looks at me but doesn’t acknowledge me. As I’m starting to dose off, she goes, “Robert,” from her chair rows in front in her nasally voice, asking me if I’m staying in the same hotel as the class (We didn’t). Get me off this train!

A gray morning in Hyde Park.

Soon after we touch down in London, Soo-Young and I catch a bus for Portsmouth. Yes, Portsmouth, the dirty little sailor town in the south of England. My friend Louise, a Parisian girl who lived with me in Boston for a month while she studied abroad at my university, was currently studying in Portsmouth, so I HAD to see her for the night. A few hours later, Soo-Young and I were welcomed by Louise and taken to her neighborhood gay/karaoke bar that her roommate managed.

My struggle with French is well documented in this blog, but it’s truly embarrassing when you can’t understand people who speak the same language as you. However the people in Portsmouth were so incredibly nice and friendly, and, yes, shameless. Soo-Young and I left for London early the next morning, but it was so nice to see Louise and get to know some crazy Brits.

The weekend we were in London coincided with G8 summit, so we were expecting protests, bomb scares and diverted Tube lines, but on the whole, I think we missed the madness just by a day or two. We of course also went to Topman/Topshop, kind of the whole purpose of the trip. We were there until they closed the store. Almost all the museums in London are free, so we went to the National Gallery and the Tate Modern, which I felt was really darkly themed. We went on a Free Tour which was mainly centered around the Royal Family. The Queen kind of freaks me out, she’s this omnipresent Big Brother icon. Everything is the Royal this and Royal that. It’s really no surprise dystopia novels like 1984 came from England. TV cameras monitor the whole city and you're always hearing eerie chimes and repeated announcements on overhead speakers. During the day, everyone is so orderly concerning things like standing on the right side of the escalator, but the night is a whole different story.

Trafalgar Square: The sculptor of these lion statues had never seen the animal before, so the heads is of a lion and the body is of his pet dog.
Fish and chips!

Going out in London is great. For whatever reason, I felt great about myself the whole time. I know that sounds weird, but I think it had to do with the fact that I didn’t have to apologize for speaking English. But back to the shamelessness: You see all the girls dressed so shamelessly slutty when they go out, way more than any other country I’ve seen, and end up taking off their stripper shoes at the end of the night and walking barefoot in the gross city streets. Disgusting. England shamelessly loves celebrity gossip, and they don’t feel the American guilt for loving mindless pop music.

Tate Modern

London is the masculine city to Paris’s femininity. London is industrial, big, heavy with wooded parks and known for menswear and tailoring. Again, I’m just so astounded how different cities and countries in Europe can be when they’re so geographically close.

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