The something or other…

October 19th, 2011 Posted in Europe 2011, Travel

I’m writing this entry from the Lufthansa flight to Munich…a good way to kill some time I figured. Luckily this HP fits nicely in front of me and the man in front has decided not to recline, yet. I really haven’t used the mini much since I left London in 2010. It really was kind of my computer savior, but I’ve been using a lot of temporary tablets and other things to get my by commutes for work. When I travel it’s been the Macbook Pro, as weird as it is to say that.

The first job of Tuesday was to have a full English, which was apparently minus the fried tomato.

Full English

Josh and I got out of the flat much earlier yesterday and headed down to the Tower of London. I’ve been before in 2004 and not much has changed, except that it’s aged a bit and newer places were under construction. It’s an interesting place with some serious history. Josh did the usual history teacher tweed jacket routine…but I have to say I’m fairly impressed by the fact that he knew a lot of things most people around us seemed not to about British history. It’s one of those moments that makes you feel kinda guilty for not listening to your teachers when you were a kid…but I digress. I live in the current, I love technology, and I love looking toward the future…perhaps we’re just somewhere in between to sides of one long continuum of pointless knowledge.

Now have a gander at Henry VII’s unreasonably-large codpiece

Henry VIIIs unreasonably-large codpiece.

Torture this, murder that, coup here, off with their heads there.

I guess that pretty much sums up the experience. Our tour guide was ex-military and from the conversations he had with us in the chapel it sounded like he was involved with the first Gulf War. There is a plaque dedicated to the fusiliers killed in that engagement. As it turns out, he was about 1 km behind them when they lost their lives. I personally think its great that the Tower has a place for soliders to continue to do ceremonial activities that are really vital to one of the world’s great historical landmarks.

Protecting the Jewels.

It’s also pretty cool to stand in the same spot so many famous people walked, slept, ate, and died whether by natural or less –than-natural causes.

After hours of that experience we headed back to the tube to get to Waterloo in time to sort out tickets for the London Eye. They’ve added a “4D” showing before you go on the trip which was new from my experience in 2004. I have to say I’m mystified by the construction and design of the Eye…It’s a useful and practical example of modern engineering doing something truly great to provide memories for many generations.

That being said, it’s rather fucking high in the air!

This was not a point that escaped Josh at all. I think he was struggling with the idea of getting on it, and gave himself some time to sort out his thoughts and make sure it was something he truly did want to do. This really seems to be a trip of getting over fears for him…and like a champ, he went for it and had a great experience, got some great standard touristy-type pictures and got the sense of pride one gets after conquering yet another thing in their lives.

It really reminded me of some of the things I’ve learned over my time traveling.

Perhaps a little more comfortable makes the experience easier, but you start to lose focus about what is so fantastic and really magical about the experience of being thousands of miles from home. The world is still massive at that point and every single difference in the culture and your surroundings makes you think introspectively about the world and your place in it.

“I learned a lot about myself on my solo European trip.”

I’ve said that before. Josh asked me to elaborate on that because he’s heard that phrase many times before. I know it sounds trite and probably a bit pretentious when people throw that out there but there is a lot of truth to the experience. At the time that I took my trip last year I really needed to be reminded that it’s ok to take on the world by oneself. I needed a practical example and the discomfort of being completely alienated from my milieu for a time long enough to discover that no matter where, I can get along.

I also learned how to communicate more broadly. How to open my ears and try to understand people of many different cultures. That’s huge. I think Americans tend to get arrogant and complacent with themselves. To be honest, that’s fine, really. Nothing wrong I suppose with staying in the states your entire life if that’s what you want to do. However, it’s just not for me.

Anyway, I should probably digress before I start sounding even triter.

After the eye we caught the Southeastern service back to West Wickham, settled in with a few pints and sorted out our travel for Munich today. BMI (British Midlands International) apparently was recently acquired in whole by Lufthansa…but really we’re on a Lufthansa flight now anyway. Check in and security were nice. They don’t take off shoes here, unless you are asked or are subject to some extra screening. You’d think in a country more concerned with terrorism they’d be worse than the US?

But let’s face it…we’re out of control.

Speaking of out of control, check out this wicked graffiti seen by Waterloo Station.

Wicked. Josh, having only taken half of a Xanax this time is comfortably watching media on his Xune (hah!) next to me. I think he’s starting to get comfortable with the idea of flying and all that it really entails. I figure by the end of this trip we will have made a proper traveler out of him.

Tomorrow we will head to (sort out the spelling), a concentration camp. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this yet. I think it’s important we have this kind of history to remind us of how to proceed in the future…but let’s face it, that very concept has such a heavy burden to carry with it. I guess I’ll write more about that tomorrow. Drinks and dinner later…

I hope all is well back home…and that at least one person found this post even the slightest bit interesting. I guess in 10 years when I go back and read these I’ll be walked through my trip…so maybe this is all just for me…:)

Easy for now,

But wait! An amendment…a P.S. if you will. I <heart> Lufthansa. An Italian-Style Chicken wrap with a beer included with the incredible cheap price. I paid about what I usually pay to get to Chicago and got a beer for free? Love it.

Ok, I’m out for real.

lunks

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