Day 5, October 15th, 2011.
Slang of the Day: Knackered. Origin: British/England. Definition: Tired. Used in a sentence: I was positively knackered after my pub crawl in London.
I woke up two hours early to get to the train to Oxford, with hopes of going back to my old hostel to see if they did indeed have my travel towel, so I could dump my cheap new white one that never dried and left white fuzz on my head and pubes after every use.
My train was from Paddington Station, presumably named after Paddington Bear, but the problem was getting in. The main two lines to get to the station were under renovation (the weekend is a perilous time for tube travellers, I found out), and every other place near it save one couldn’t be reached due to that. I abandoned the towel pretty quickly. I took a long roundabout way, and then found that the line ended right before the Paddington stop. I figured it wouldn’t be much of a walk, but I was told the bus is much faster and that if I told them about the tube stoppage I’d get on for free. So, I found the bus station, and waited. And continued to wait. By the time the bus arrived, 10 minutes after it was scheduled, I only had about 20 minutes until my train left. And of course there was traffic. And of course the street where the bus would drop us off was under construction, so the bus driver dropped us off a few blocks past it. I get off about 6 minutes before departure, and like Forrest Gump, I ran.
I ran and I ran, and got to a kiosk and exhaled my problems, grabbed my ticket and jumped onto the train within seconds of its departure. Score 1 for Andy!
Then I slept the entirety of the train ride.
Once in Oxford, for some reason I ate shitty Chinese food at “Koi” and explored aimlessly until my room was ready. Oxford, while bustling with students, teachers, tourists and God knows who on the weekend, was a different level compared to London, and quite nice and beautiful. You basically can’t breathe without inhaling history and tasting British snobbery.
Quick sidenote: Not a fan of the way you order in restaurants in England. At the pub you order food and drinks directly from the barkeep and pay them then and there, which is fine, but there’s a bit of a grey area in restaurants, depending on how nice they are. Some you sit down and order, others you sit down, look at the menu, then go up and order. Why have waitresses? Anyways, it works out with a lot less tipping. Seriously, you basically go 10% tops on a legit meal, and next to nothing or a few pence with drinks or food ordered from the bartender. I was called generous for being a shit tipper a couple times. It was kinda nice.
Second quick sidenote: Every price in England is already with tax, so you’re paying what you see. Apparently the tax is a ridiculous 20% already figured in, but not having to worry about any additions to the preordained total is almost worth it. Still, I think Oregon wins.
Third quick sidenote: England loves coins. No bill lower than a fiver, so you get a lot of 1 and 2 pound coins, so I’m constantly weighed jangling. Money is actually fairly easy to figure out. 100 pence to a pound, and that’s really all there is to it. The exchange rate is a bit trickier, but all you need to know is my asshole is still bleeding.
I returned to the hostel and checked in, napped, showered and shaved to tidy up my beard and goatee, and also met Sacha, an Australian who had travelled for a long time previously and was just starting for round two. That’s how much Australians hate their home country. They can’t wait to explore, drink, and go for strange ass. And that’s why I love them. I basically said I was looking for a drink, Sacha agreed, and that was all there was to it. We also bonded over our beards.
I also met a random Swede who had lived in Bothell of all places, and never saw him again. I also met Quongzhi, a Chinese woman who had studied in Leeds and lived in London. She was off to see a movie, so I assumed I’d never hear from her again, but she actually e-mailed me and now we are facebook official!
Anyways, Sacha and I had a NIGHT. We went all over, stopping at the famous Turf Tavern (as not recommended by David), where Bill Clinton was rumored not to inhale, and where other Oxford luminaries have gotten pissed, and we discovered Old Rosy, a hard cider with 7.8% alcohol. Cider’s a big deal in London, and I love it.
We meet two Irish girls at a different bar, I wanna say the Oxford Arms, and they loved us. Sarah (an inferior brunette version of Julianne Moore) and Ashilynn (blonde) were their names, no idea if I spelled either right. Ashilynn told me to come to her place in Birmingham (which apparently is the armpit of Britain) to plan a trip to Dublin, because she’s Irish and knows that shit. I’m in, right (Sacha kept dancing around and loudly whispered that I was in my ear with both girls right next to us)? Apparently not. I didn’t get her number obviously and she apparently was so drunk she disappeared with some other hulking brute. So I started dancing with Sarah in the few nightclubs of Oxford, including the incredibly named Purple Turtle (as not recommended by David). If nothing else, at least my sweat marked my place in the annals of Oxford history, and I regained some of my dancing mojo after the London debacle.
After my legs gave out, Sarah was worried about Ash-whatsit because she was sleeping at her place, and while I could’ve probably joined the hunt, it was 3 AM and it didn’t look good. I took my out, and wandered back to the hostel. I had long since lost Sacha, who apparently had a girl come up to him complimenting his beard, and….’nuff said. Australia 1, US 0.
Next time: Andy wants in the bartender.