Day 7, Monday October 17th, 2011.
Slang of the day: halfie. Origin: Australia. Definition: half an hour, though probably half a chub too. Used in a sentence: I’ll be lucky to last a halfie while watching Rihanna music videos.
The previous day Sacha and I had connected on the “book of faces” and promised to reconvene at a later date. We still plan to.
Now I was onto Bath, one of the oldest and most historic cities in England. As per my routine, I find my hostel at a time too early to check in even after getting turned around at least three times, but drop off my backpack and explore the town until I can officially get my bed for the evening. I find a small pub (it’s actually Bath’s smallest pub) named the Coeur de Lion and order my first fish ‘n chips in England. Apparently I should’ve done it closer to the water (no shit), but it had to be done. I also had a Bellringer ale pint, which was brewed in Bath or at least nearby.
Talking point on English ale: The beers are numerous, different and everywhere. They have great and interesting flavor but are generally cask ales, meaning when served at a bar they are served “cellar cool,” which means that it’s served at room temperature (that’s not what it means but that’s what happens). English ales aren’t served cold and aren’t supposed to be; they aren’t tapped from kegs. English ale could be special if everything was cold, and while it’s still good, it’s hard to get used to warm beer. I don’t think it’s possible, actually.
I’m nervous for the fish ‘n chips because there is no ketchup in sight, and tartar sauce might be my only option. When it’s served, the tartar sauce is actually “cooked” and hot, so I give it a go. I tend to ascribe to Ben’s rule of hating white sauces (ranch, mayo, cum, tartar, etc.), but I’ll admit I was wrong. Hot tartar sauce is delicious, and the combination of it, lemon and flaky fried fish hit the spot.
Then I took my 3rd free walking tour, led by an old lady fascinated by fecal matter. You may have noticed I spend a lot of time talking about shit on this blog, but that might just because England is shitty (ba-dum-ch). But seriously, this was my least favorite of the tours thus far, and she spent a lot of time telling us how bad the human waste problem was before they had sewage and pipes. The tour was also long and kinda boring, though I did learn that many people boarded up their windows or moved them closer together because Bath used to have a window tax! Fascinating stuff. It didn’t help that this was the first tour I didn’t have anyone to talk to. [Sidenote: I forgot to mention that during the London tour a girl asked an Asian guy to take a picture of her with a royal guard and the guy dropped her camera on the pavement. Hilarious.]
That all said, Bath is beautiful and the architecture is incredible. It was a Roman town (translation: old as hell), lauded for its natural hot steam spas and decadence, and has the buildings to prove it. Of course, as I was told, without sewage, they became tubs of shit and urine, which allowed me to check off actually paying to go inside the spas, and going to some of the new one’s to spa myself (it seems silly to get really clean when you’re sleeping in a hostel, a point that will be reinforced later). In many parts the buildings are Georgian. In particular, the Crescent and the Circus, as designed by John Wood, were awesome. This is where Barrett rocks his job and provides nice pictures for you, until I can upload mine. If he doesn’t, google it.
Lastly, Bath was, for a time, the lucky home of Jane Austen and the setting for Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. Before I flew out here, I brought a few themed novels to read while travelling, and vowed to buy more that I had never read before as I came to them. Unfortunately, that means I now have to read some Jane Austen, but maybe that will make me understand periods. Also added to the reading list is Alice in Wonderland (Oxford). Of course, since I’m still on my first book, Once and Future King, I may never get to them.
Anyways, I buy a baguette for dinner (47p), which I learned from Sacha is the ultimate way to save money on food and still not die from starvation (the other option is to have a Guiness instead), and return to my hostel. I meet a couple guys in the weird creepy TV room at the top of the staircase. One is Christian (my spelling is definitely wrong), an odd German, and the other is Jimmy Olsen, Clark Kent’s favorite photojournalist for the Daily Planet (he’s actually an Australian).
Jimmy agrees to go on the Bizarre Bath Comedy Walk with me, which Rick Steves recommended and is relatively cheap for students (which I am when I show them my IC card that shows no expiration date!), and with nothing else to do, we go, and I don’t know how to describe it, beyond it being funny and an enjoyable time, especially if you enjoy puns, “magic,” stuffed rabbits, and audience participation. If you’re ever in Bath, see it for yourself.
As planned earlier we meet Christian at a bar, and join two of our fellow Bizarre Bath walkers into what turns out to be a festival of jager, and arguably my most fun night since travelling. The two we join are a couple. The girl is Hazel from Australia, and I remember that name solely because of its uniqueness, not because she was banging. Coincidentally, I don’t remember her British boyfriend’s name, though the guy ruled. Rounds of jager bombs go left and right, and the mission becomes to get Christian shitfaced, because he clearly doesn’t drink often (and he’s german!). This leads to Christian obsessing about adding us on facebook and being more interested in what I have to say than anyone I’ve ever seen (he was literally inches away from my face). He may have been gay. But he also never added me on facebook, the jerk.
Later, I’m rudely introduced to a new drinking game: Save the Queen. Essentially you drop a pound (a dollar coin) into someone’s glass and they have to “save the queen” (from drowning, I suppose) by chugging the contents of the drink. Depending on how you look at it, I was either awful or amazing at this game. I can chug repeatedly, but couldn’t really defend my glass from anyone. Of course, they usually paid for another beer afterwards, so why stop them? After this I explain to them real games like flip cup and beer pong. Drinking games in England = singing. Upon being introduced to Dandy and Drandy, the Brit guy calls me the most controversial American he’s ever met.
We finish at the bar at the hostel and pool our money together to get as much alcohol we could into a cocktail jug. Christian was MIA.
I go to the bathroom before bed and am horrified to see vomit in the sink, on the floor, and later, in the trash can in our room and on someone’s bed, thank Krishna my bed is safe. Using my keen detective skills, I figured it was Christian, that poor guy.
After that there was nothing left to do but go to bed and piss myself.
Next: Andy goes to Wales!