London and Greenwich. That was our goal today, and by "our" I mean me and Bella. We had some sight seeing to do in London and I had a 5:00 interview in Greenwich which is about an hour away from London. So we set out at 9 o'clock in the morning to the Uxbridge underground station. We made it there about an hour and a half later than intended. Why? Well we love wifi and for a pounds worth of French fries at McDonalds we could get ourselves some wifi. Free wifi isn't quite as prevalent in the UK as it is in the states, so when we find it, we jump on it. We also charted out the next couple of days with places and things we wanted to see and do. So we were quite productive. After we got our internet fix we headed into London. Bella is pretty adept at adapting to her surroundings quickly, I can adapt....I just take a little longer. She tends to jump while she thinks and I just follow along because whatever happens, whether shes right about which tube we're supposed to take or we go in the wrong direction, there's bound to be a good story.
So all was going well till we realized we took the right tube, just in the wrong direction. So we just shrugged and started talking about ways we would kill ourselves if we had to kill ourselves. This all sounds morbid when I type this out but we had a very legitimate in-depth conversation about the best most effective way to kill oneself if one had to. We were quite oblivious to the fact that the tube was a little on the packed side until we drew some stares when I argued that shooting oneself in the medulla oblongata would be a faster way to go than Bella's suggestion, smashing her car into a wall. So....suffice to say, we changed topics.
We ended up getting to our destination, London, and I must say my eyes were anxious to see what all the fuss was about regarding London. Well I wasn't disappointed, I suppose. The first thing I noted was the dirty, spit out gum on the streets and the similar likeness to New York. It was very much like New York. Business people bustling about on the streets, bums on corners, cooks hanging out the doors of their restaurants to catch a smoke; spitting image of New York, just with a British accent. However, Buckingham Palace was what impressed me most. It is huge. It is regal. And I want to live there. I stood right in front of the gates where Prince William and Princess Kate kissed after they married and all I could think about is how I would have made a better princess. But besides thinking about my right to be an heir to the throne and all that, I fully appreciated the awesomeness of Buckingham. We happened to arrive at the time of the changing of the guards which is really nothing terribly special, except these mates have been standing stock still for hours and are switched out with much pomp and circumstance. I took a video of it and will be throwing it up on my Facebook, better hope you're my friend (or you can decide not to be and just YouTube it).
What really caught my interest is the plain ordinary people that would show their badge to the British police and walk on in to do their job. Those are the people whose's lives most intrigued me. They are the ones that keep that place going and yet they silently pass the courtyard without anybody giving them a second glance. It's the uniformed police and soldiers that guard the gate that people/tourists are most impressed with....and they do the least amount of work. Anyway I digress...
We roamed around St. James park for a short while till Bella started to lecture me about behaving like a tourist after I almost ran into someone after I was trying to get out of the way of someone else (I just wanted to clarify my innocence). I changed the topic to theater tickets because I knew she had her heart set on seeing a show in London. It worked. We talked about purchasing the tickets but realized the time (3:00pm) and had to rush to the tube so I could make my appointment. We took an hour and fifteen minute ride, with various tube changes, out to Greenwich, which is a city located on Thames river. It's a quaint little town/city. The part we went to was more town-ish (if that's even a word, pretty sure it's not).
I rushed off to my appointment which was at the Old Royal Naval College, where the University of Greenwich is, and left Bella to fend for herself with promises to meet her at a corner pub. I was nervous about finding the place I was supposed to meet Dr. M so Bella and I had asked a girl as to the direction earlier. I noticed I had caught up with her so she suggested I just go with her as she was heading in that direction. We walked along and I asked her what her thoughts were on Americans. She was very politically correct in her reply "they are like people everywhere; some are nice, some not so nice." I told her it was ok to be honest, I really wanted to know, but she seemed very hesitant to be so I left it alone, I probably committed some sort of faux pas. She changed the topic to the sizes in the States versus the UK, we talked about how in America the meal sizes are bigger, the cars are bigger, the houses are bigger, when really all that is unnecessary. She was Italian and had been living in Greenwich for 3 years after she graduated college and couldn't find a job. I realized as we talked I had to talk slowly because of my accent. Ha. Accent. I don't know what my accent sounds like. Its weird to think I even have one. But I had to slow down my speech and enunciate every word so she could understand me. Before we parted ways I introduced myself and thanked her. Sylvia, you are one cool chick.
I arrived at the place Dr. M suggested we meet, which is called the Painted Hall. I arrived there a few minutes early so I had the fortunate chance of getting a quick look at it before I waited outside for him. Boy, am I ever glad I did. It was gorgeous. I took pictures, but pictures do not fully capture how freaking breathtaking this hall is. It's sort of like an elegant mess hall with paintings of King George (I believe) and naval conquests on the walls and ceilings. Truly amazing and free.
I met him outside of it and he then proceeded to escort me to his office. We chatted about the weather and my background as we hurried along the courtyards to his office. He is the perfect brilliant British intellectual man you imagine when one says brilliant British intellectual man. He courteously answered my questions and humored my arguments. He gave me insightful thoughts and enlightened some of my thinking on social network analysis. I could see he had already had a long day, so I tried to be swift in asking my questions and providing feedback. It ended almost as soon as it began and soon enough I was on my way back to the appointed place where I was supposed to meet Bella.
I was deep in thought as I walked to the agreed place when I saw a African American man holding back another African American man. I thought nothing about it as I walked closer and then I saw a Caucasian man saying something to the men rather loudly. I thought that they were being very jovial until I saw the Caucasian man holding two rather large sized bricks in an aggressive manner. He then proceeded to lift his arm as if he was going to throw it and I quickly walked in the opposite direction. It was quite the startle. He swore repetitively and violently at the men and threw one of the cobblestone bricks onto the ground and stormed off.
By then he had drawn a lot of attention. I asked around to try to find out what happened but everyone just told me that the young man was unstable. It was very interesting.
I sat down at the corner pub and began to write some of my paper for this interview project when I saw a man selling magazines on the corner. I just watched him for a while behind my sunglasses and saw another man walk up to him. The second man began to talk to him in what seemed like confidence and started eyeing the girls that passed them on the street. He was openly ogling the girls and seemed to be encouraging his new found magazine friend to do the same. I watched him talk to the magazine guy a bit further and then the man left. I approached the magazine man and asked him what the guy told him. In his thick British accent I was able to make out that the man was telling him he had a great job because he could watch all these girls bodies that passed him by. I thanked him and left.
By then Bella had arrived and I told her my stories while we wandered through a junk shop. My conclusion of Greenwich: caution, the people can be weird.
We headed to a delightful pub called The Auctioneer and had a pint of beer, a classic burger, and chips (aka French fries) for 4 pounds 25 pence (about 7 US dollars). We talked about men, marriage, love, and the lack of women's drive to live their lives. We were about to solve all of mankind's problems when we realized it was getting late and we needed to head back.
Two hours and three tube changes later we found ourselves at a bus stop in Uxbridge in 50 degree weather waiting for the bus to take us to our dorms. While we were waiting we ran into Dana and Hannah, the two girls I hung out with on my first day in Uxbridge. We chatted about the days events when a man asked us if we all knew each other, we replied we did. He smiled and asked Dana how he could get in touch with her. Bam. Just like that. Dana was getting picked up at 10:15 at night right by a bus stop by some sketchy dude. She then said she wasn't interested so the man asked Bella if she was available, to which she said she was married; asked me if I was available, I told him I was engaged; then asked Hannah if she was available, she said she had a boyfriend. Enter awkward silence........
I straight up asked him why he was looking for a girlfriend. He said he had just come to the UK and was lonely. I told him to go to church, that was the best way to find a girl. He attempted to get into our little circle so Bella made some excuse about going into the street to see if that was our bus. Bella could have said we needed to go tip over a port-a-potty, I would have followed her anywhere out of that amazingly awkward moment.
We made it safely onto the bus, made a new friend, Muzz, and proceeded to head back home to Gordon hall. Tomorrow though, me and Bella will solve all mankind's problems.......after we thoroughly tour London and have tea time with the Queen, of course.