Saturday, March 22, 2008

Don't like the weather in England, wait 15 minutes.

Friday was an unexpected day off for me.  Though technically a holiday, most organizations in the States don't give the day off.  Thankfully, I'm working a government project so any excuse for a day off is taken.

My girl and I decided to brave the tourist spots for a bit of shopping and sight seeing.  After a nice breakfast we shot over to the Oxford Circus area.  Walking through the streets of London is similar to any other big city yet completely different at the same time.  For one thing, English is not the most commonly heard language.  Some degree of internationality is expected, but it feels as if the natives are far outnumbered by the foreigners here.  Couple that with the fact that most of them are tourists, not residents, and you have a very rude throng of humanity.  Having grown up in South Florida I'm used to the tourist bullshit.  No one respects where they are because it's not their home, they have a sense of entitlement since they're on holiday and tend to behave in a fashion completely opposite of what they would back home.  American's aren't the only "ugly" ones when traveling abroad.  As prepared as I was for the encounter, it still isn't pleasurable to experience.  You have to try to enjoy yourself in spite of it all really. 

Meandering through the streets we explored farther reaches of the Oxford Street area than we had previously.  No real goal in mind other than window shopping.  Some new places had opened up providing distraction for a little bit.  Purchasing things in the UK is so damn expensive with the weak dollar that you can't reasonably buy anything that's available in the States.  In the end we only picked up some chachkas for friends back home.

A nice break from the pushing, shoving and cursing under our breath was a Turkish restaurant named Grand Bazaar.  A narrow little place jam packed with atmosphere.  We ordered their banquet option giving us little tastes of a variety of dishes.  The food was very good and very filling.  While eating we saw the weather continue to change.  The day had started with a nice dose of sunshine (a rarity over here) but quickly devolved into scattered rain storms.  The wind was so strong that any weather system entering the area was gone in moments.    Making our trek back to the tube it began to hail.  I had to laugh.  Where else in the world would a sunshine day switch to hail in less than 10 hours? 

Saturated with the nasty energy from the crowds and soaked from the hail/rain we were very glad to return to the calm of our hotel room.  Venturing out into London can be fun, but sometimes the effort needed far outweighs the enjoyment.

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