I Took My First Dump In England Today

Day 3: October 13th, 2011. It’s a weird and horrible feeling to wake up not knowing where you’ll be sleeping next, and that’s the first inkling I got that what I’m doing the next few months is basically being a glorified homeless person, or at least one going from one soup kitchen to the next.

So, I check out and book two nights at a hostel near Hyde Park and aim to get there early, drop off my bags and explore London. It’s actually not too bad getting to it, I only backtrack and look at my shoddy London map a couple times.

It’s not even been two weeks since I was there, and I already have a hard time describing London. Everything, like the rest of England, is so old, but it’s also just so overwhelming, moreso than New York. It seems more spread out and its directions and boroughs make a lot less sense (streets aren’t straight and don’t create a friendly grid). That said, it’s probably the most multicultural place I’ve ever been to. English was practically the second language.

After I unpack my clothes at my new hostel I realize I had forgotten my Rick Steves Travel Towel at the previous hostel. I got one night and two uses out of it. Fuck. (I would e-mail the previous hostel several times and they were never really clear if they had it, and backtracking for no reason didn’t appeal. So I paid a few pounds for a crappy towel at my new hostel. Better than not showering.)

The first time I really start enjoying London is when I wander throughout Regent’s Park. The public (and free!) park is massive, beautiful, and while there are a ton of people milling about, the city feels about as far as home. There are gardens, quaint cafes and eateries, and most importantly, according to The Regent’s Park website, this is the only place in Central London where you can see hedgehogs. Because coffee sucks, I stop at a delightful little establishment called The Honest Sausage.

Naturally I order a sausage and bacon roll, sit inside because it’s chilly and drizzling, and start reading and people watching. This is, despite having “bacon” on my burger the night before, when I realize that bacon in England is not exactly what has made Ryan and Barrett ejaculate all over the place during their fabled lives. In the UK, bacon is basically ham/Canadian bacon. It’s good, but it’s not bacon. Fuck London.

Not really. But anyways, this is when I introduce the unofficial book of The Journey, if you will. It is The Alchemist written by Paulo Coelho, as recommended to me by Ryan. He lent me the book over giving it to Megan Fox even, that’s how much it meant to him for me to read it, though I think it was because he had to after promising to on MDMA the weekend before I left. I began reading it in Seattle, and read snippets here and there on the plane and in my hostel before I slept, and while it’s not a long book, I finished the second half at the Ole Sausage, stopping after every few pages to kind of sit and stew in it, and because it was taking me forever to eat my mediocre roll.

The book is about people following their personal legend and achieving greatness and happiness by doing so, and about how so many people just don’t do that, or lose themselves along the way. It’s a stretch to say that sitting in The Honest Sausage was the first step on my journey to enlightenment, but reading this book was, or at least helped justify my decision and brought back all the teachings from Dr. Mosher at Ithaca College, a kind of course correction from where I strayed. It’s just fantastic, and really was the tonic to the shit that I had gone through up to that point. After I finished, I had an idea to write an inscription in the cover, the previous owners/readers (Ryan and myself) and a way to contact them (e-mail) and perhaps pass on the book to fellow travellers and see what comes of it. I haven’t followed through on it yet, but I still like the idea. I’ll buy you another copy Ryan.

After that, I wandered Baker Street and saw where Sherlock Holmes lived (yes, I know he didn’t live at all) and then trekked to the British Library figuring they’d have computers to use so I could figure out what my next move was. No go, that’d be too easy, after all.

That evening I met a French girl named Laurea, who was staying in the same room (it was a mixed dorm of about 8). Our girl wants to go into tourism and is moving to England to learn English. She’s studied it for 7 years and we barely understood each other 40% of the time. What I did understand was that she was pretty boring. We went out for a couple drinks and dinner (she chose a lame Italian place) in Camden Town, a place that reminded me of Capitol Hill on crack with a shot of the Pike Place Market. We stumbled into Oxford Arms Pub (a very cliché name, it turns out) for a beer, where I encountered a beer with clearly the best name in history: Greene King IPA. Brewed for over two hundred years and probably created by my ancestors (this might be my first clue to discovering the Greene Castle or some hidden fortune), so naturally, it tastes like shit. It’s no Seattle IPA, boys and girls.

From there we go to some crazy Zulu/Actec night club within Stables market that was dead since it was about 630 PM for a cocktail (which may or may not have been The Gilgamesh), and then a beer at The Toucan in Soho, a sweet little pub that introduced me to my favorite part of England thus far: you can drink outside on the sidewalk! Hurrah! Then we enjoyed said Italian place and after that Laurea was ready to go home, and I was ready to go out, having had a few pints and a cocktail.

I went to Covent Garden, but it felt like the Charlie Brown music was following me wherever I went, and didn’t have the energy or excitement to make a night of it on my own, so I quickly went back to the hostel and mercifully, went to sleep.

Sidenote: While Laurea wasn’t up for a night out, she had just flown in from France, and I can’t blame her for not wanting to go out with a random stranger in a big city. Of course, that actually turns out to be quite commonplace, as I’d find out. I’m not sure what she thought of me, because we hardly connected on anything and I bothered her about her netbook whenever I could, but she was the first of many people I wasn’t able to retain contact info with because I didn’t yet have a phone, a stable internet connection, or even a facebook profile someone could search easily. But I didn’t know that yet. In this case it wasn’t a big deal because she wasn’t good looking.

Next time on The Wanderer: Andy gets less depressing and boring.

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  1. I love this Andy 🙂 Definitely something I’ll read, no lie.

  2. Try tube8.com too, it’s basically the same thing, but with a more organized sorting system.

    Also, <3

  3. man, english bacon > american “bacon” 😉




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