Dream trip Day 130 Flight to Reykjavik, Boston, Bukowski Bar

Don’t you hate it when you wake up a few minutes before your alarm is due to ring? What do you do with those free moments? Go back to sleep? Get up?

I got up. I had all ready packed, all set there, just strapped my backpack and side bag over my shoulder.

Typically I used Uber overseas, it was a bit more reliable vs Lyft but I did ride with both at some point on my trip.

A driver selected me so I waited. I waited more, his car didn’t move. Over 4 minutes they sat in the same place

WTH man. So a quick search revealed my journey was less than a mile, no one wanted to do a short run like that.

I still felt I had time so I canceled this ride and requested another. And another driver sat in his spot for a couple of minutes before I had to cancel again.

Finally after calling 3x, a car shows up, a friendly chap is behind the wheel.

I made it through security with plenty of time to make the gate before boarding. Of course I carried everything, the checked luggage lines were always very long.

Be sure to always carry a pen in your bag. Borrow one from your airline, hotel, dr office, toss it into your bag and forget about it.

You’ll always need a pen for filling out the documents to get into the country.

Our first leg was only to Iceland, so perhaps just over an hour or maybe 2. A breeze.

Then we landed in Reykjavik where we deplaned 60’s style out onto the tarmac, into the terminal, directly onto another plane. We waited for 10 minutes or something.

We were informed a few times that the Aurora Borealis viewing was perfect, just stop by a desk in the terminal and they would change your reservation.

Really the changing of planes is a waste of time but hey cheap tickets. I knew I was coming back, I just had to do it right, get a car, drive all around the coast was my plan. Over a week.

Another take off and landing, perhaps 3 hours, not too bad. Enough for a bit of shut-eye, just meditated with my eyes closed. Tried to get into the music.

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I turned my slip of paper to the TSA guy who had me put both bags through another X-ray machine.

Soon I had to do the awkward take a photo of yourself, swipe your passport and hope they let you through.

The certified traveler option seems great, hardly a line. Yet it is the finger printing that really bothers me. Like I’m a criminal, they need my fingerprints.

I don’t have anything to hide true, so why not take my side as a US citizen vs presuming I may or will commit a crime where fingerprints are necessary?

I was fearful for an inquisition due to how long I’d been gone but no, a single question then the border guard told me,

‘Get in here, we’ve been waiting on yas.’ I was home, back in the US of A!!

Boston man, let me tell you about a city. I dig Boston, a whole lot. It is great. Bill Burr says Boston is like San Francisco except racist and homophobic.

I was so excited to find a hostel near the prestigious Berklee College of Music, one of the top music schools in the US if not the world.

At least I could check in thanks to the wasted time on that layover. I located a free bus into town where I had to transfer to another streetcar line.

We had nearly crested over the pass to merge onto the highway when police sirens blared every car to a grinding halt. For over half an hour.

All that for Hillery Clinton’s entourage of blacked out SUVs. Heard it over the bus driver’s radio, ‘Remain at attention for Sec Clinton.’

Man if that don’t tell you what is wrong with our political system I don’t know what else you need to know.

How can you lead a group of people when you don’t know what traffic is? Where everything takes 15 minutes to get to because you have an escort, all the lights turn green? Ruling class now officially.

I just laughed, whatever. I knew who I was voting for. Look Democrat Republican Green Party etc, they are all out for someone’s $$ not your support. Only your vote then they get to collect $$.

To my delight once I arrived at my stop, I was in the midst of free piano month. For the entire month of September the city had placed several pianos for people to play, free.

One of these pianos was in front of a coffee shop next to my hostel. Score!

School had just left out so I procured a cup and pulled up a seat while a couple of kids took turns playing amazing piano pieces.

The cool sea breeze was blowing. Cars blared their horns, people yelled. A lot.

I had spied a noodle house near the corner so that was my dinner of choice.  A steaming bowl of noodles in broth will bring most anyone back to life.

I checked in and headed to a place I had tried to go the last time I was in Boston, about 3 years ago my family went to a Sox game.

Bukowski Bar was near my hostel just a few blocks walk. I encourage you to read anything by Charles Bukowski you can get your eyes on. One of my fav authors.

Fortunately there was a 7-11 on the way, I get to use ATMs for free at stores thanks to my little credit union.

It turned out the bar I went to is cash only. Good beer selection, the ballgame on, good times. Another round bartender.

A nice night to walk home in the crisp Boston air.

Beer  Sam Adams Boston Lager

Song  Paul Simon   Homeward Bound

 

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Dream trip Day 129 Farewell Oxford, 12th Century Turf Tavern, Gatwick

I woke, showered and met my Canadian friend on the patio, drinking coffee.

We discussed the night as well as our brunch plans at Turf Tavern, build in 12th century, or earlier, they just don’t have records going back further.

Lots of fires in ye olde Britain so many records have been lost.

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You really have to follow a map to find the tavern, it isn’t easy. Down a small passage that at least has a plaque.

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There were 2 sets of taps inside where you ordered beer or food. You pointed to where you would sit, in or out.

We picked outside, it wasn’t raining, yet. I chose a burger, can’t go wrong with a pub burger yup.

The place to be here is out back, big tables, covered for when it rains and it does rain a lot in this part of the country.

Why, it even rained as we enjoyed our meal but we were safe and dry.

Another pint to wait out the rain then. I soon became enamoured with a chap across from me who was loudly talking over the phone.

He was soon joined by, ‘ah here he is, the whisperer! My boy, yes, you see..’ he was proper chap, just well put together. Long wallet, coin purse, watch on a chain, gloves, hat resting on the table. Everything he carried had some sort of special carrier or satchel.

He did indeed refer to his associate as “the whisperer” several times while they sipped beers. It was like off a BBC show or something.

I soon bade my friend goodbye, he was off to the north, I had a bus to the south.

Gatwick, home to an airport and a small village. There are 2 buses a day Oxford to both Heathrow and Gatwick.

One is very early, leaves before 8 I believe. My flight was mid afternoon so I didn’t want to risk anything. Travel over an hour pre-flight is typically not a good idea.

So 1 night in Gatwick, mere miles from the airport.

England has a great bus system, double-decker style so upstairs I went. Headphones on and we were off!

I love the rolling hills and tiny villages, cottages we encountered along the way. Lovely country. Need to go back to the north.

A long walk once I arrived to Gatwick and I was to my room. The airport options seem to the be the same no matter where you go. A bed, shower, toilet, tv all one needs.

I settled in, showered up so I could leave the next morning without shower time.

It turned into a rather long walk, stroll but I found a local pub. Caught my last footy match in country with a pint.

Soon some favorites appeared, scotch egg, chips, a fine final UK meal!

I sat with my new reality, my trip was nearing its end.

Tomorrow a flight to one of my favorite cities, Boston, via Iceland of course. It was only a 4-ish hour flight, not bad at all.

A long weary walk in a rainy mist was tough. I was heading home, the US, but where precisely was TBD…

 

Beer  McEwan’s Champion

Song  Led Zeppelin    Ramble On

 

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Dream trip Day 128 Walking tour fail, Canadian friend, back to Eagle and Child

Always confusion and chaos 1st night in hostel. If you needed to shower, you could find every restroom in the place but not 1 with a shower, bath.

Finally found it and washed the last bit of Cardiff off me.

This place was a bit high-class what with their pod coffee maker. I appreciated it but I must say those pods are horrible for the planet. I think they finally developed a degradable pod but for years they were plastic pods.

I had a cup while scanning the pamphlet list, hunting for walking tours of the city.

When I found 1 I noted where to go and found it on my map. A left right left or something and I was there!

But where is there? It clearly stated an address but it wasn’t there, the numbers jumped up over the address I was looking for.

No guided tour today, going to have to self walk tour. Wait someone is waving?

Ah ok its a Canadian guy I met the night before in the hostel. He was in a long tour of the England, Britain. I believe he had been on the Isle of Wright for a while.

We joined up and decided to walk the city!

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Just quaint! This was such a nice, quant place. I felt at ease here.

Aimlessly walking a bit, the subject of beers and food are brought up.

My Canadian friend had been to Nando’s before and wanted to try something new.

Asian noodles it is, that’s not something you see everyday. Twas good, I quite enjoy a good bowl of noodles.

I don’t think there was ever an awkward pause in our conversation, we got along pretty well.

He was a college student doing an extended trip because he had time. I advised him that spending at least 1 month on a trip is one of the best things you could do.

I learned so much about life and myself, having to figure out basic logistics. Where was I going, how was I getting there, where am I staying once I arrive?

I also felt that having to make decisions daily helps you get used to them so you don’t fret.

Do you know who the Inklings are, I asked. He didn’t at first until I said JRRR Tolkien + CS Lewis writing group.

He loved Lord of the Rings, had it read to him when he was a kid. Follow me, let me show you something very cool.

I took him to the Eagle and Child, we saw the Lewis quote and plaque with info about the writing club who drank and talked there.

He was legitimately freaking out, so excited. He was taking all sorts of pictures. I ordered 2 pints of pale and we sat down.

These moments are what I enjoy the most. We were both travelers but we had different perspectives, been to different places.

It felt good to help him find a place to share with his family and friends. They had all read the books so now they could see where the books had been discussed, maybe even read for the 1st time.

We closed out the pub yet we wanted to linger and discuss the books longer.

On the way back to the hostel we found an open sports pub so in we went. Instead of football on they had rugby cricket and soccer highlights.

We had a couple more pints before we figured out what to do in the morning.

He had heard of the oldest pub in England was near, or certainly top 3 oldest.

My friend being the true Canadian he was wanted another beer so into the grocery store we go where we get a couple of bottles.

We run into a couple chatting with one of the hostel workers. He is from Australia and is ‘fucking loaded, mate. My house has a pool, ac, sunroof.’

He had some sort of online business he started when he was younger and it was now automated, he didn’t have to work but a couple of hours a day, if that.

He too was chasing the sun, he worked here during the summer, saw the area and friends, then back to Australia. He only saw the summer and maybe a bit of fall wherever he lived.

We were discussing power, who was in charge, the dominate party as most countries began under a different. I want to say this was around the time Russia invaded or took back Crimea.

He showed us 1 of many videos that show a part of the world and who was in control of a region year by year, century by century. Here’s one of Europe. Fascinating.

Beer  Old Speckled Hen

Song  Supergrass   Sun Hits the Sky

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Dream trip Day 127 Farewell Cardiff, train to Oxford, the Eagle and Child pub

At this point, months into my trip I was bewildered most of the time. It was just unreal everything I was seeing and experiencing. I felt overwhelmed and still not sure what to do or where to go.

The only thing I knew was winter is coming and I did not pack for that. I had a hoodie that worked well so far but it was soon to become real cold. Freezing.

Had I been really adventurous I would have flown to Morocco. I investigated going when I had a week off in Barcelona.

I was chasing the sun at this point, trying to stay warm if I could.

The weather wasn’t too much better where I was heading next, Oxford.

The college was certainly a draw, the writers who taught and lived there: CS Lewis, JRRRR Tolkien, radiohead… Yeah I pretty much went to see what the area that radiohead lived looked like.

I’d been listening to radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool literally the entire summer. It is a great record but can be a bit depressing. It’s a good listen on an overcast or rainy day. As is Kid A, that is my go to rainy day record.

I didn’t have time for coffee and a meal before I left so I had some of the instant coffee with sugar at the hostel before I left.

At some point the night before I decided I needed to have fish n chips here, to complete my UK fish and chips experience. I’d had the meal in England, Scotland, Ireland (N and S) and now Wales.

The fry guy just smiled when I ordered and said it would be a few, had to fry it fresh to make it best!

A stupendous amount of chips with a slab of fish soon arrived. Enough for 2 easily.

I had time but still felt rushed. I mean, the train station was only across the street so I am not sure why I was concerned.

I left my still near full box near one of the many stoops with homeless.

The railway was small and everything was in English so finding my track was a breeze, especially compared to Budapest.

I did however miss my connection in Redding. I took my time putting on my hoodie then everyone was getting on so I couldn’t push past them.

I got to the door just as it closed and locked. Trapped!

What made this rather interesting was the previous hour or so were non stop. I hoped for the next stop to be soon.

It was so I jumped on a train heading in the direction of Oxford. Luckily the trains were timed well so I had plenty of time to get on the right track.

I sat with a couple chaps at a table. They both worked for a transportation company, or maybe logistics. They were going on a work trip for more training.

The impression I got was they went to school for a specific degree related to this job.

They worked while in uni as interns or journeymen, then received a 1 year commitment at this company. The company seemed well structured and promotions were clear and easy to work towards.

To my right the green pastures rolled past, a green blur.

The great thing about this train was I didn’t have to transfer, it went to Oxford where I stood near the door, ain’t missing this stop!

After a brief walk I was near University of Oxford, a storied place whose history goes back to 1096 but it is likely older, just haven’t found a document yet.

Oxford just feels like a village, full of life as well as proper people.

My hostel was a few blocks from the uni, I found it pretty easy.

It was small and cavernous hostel, winding around a few floors. I got lost a couple of times looking for restroom and shower, located in different parts of the house.

The weather was ok so I sat outside on the patio and tried to join in on a conversation with some employees and a couple of pretty gals from New Zealand.

They were stuck at the hostel waiting as they had checked out but their flight was late at night so they let them hang out in the smokers lounge.

After trying to jump in and join the conversation a few times, I had to give up.

I was hungry so I figured I’d find something a long the way. Literally the 1st restaurant I saw was Nando’s, which I passed up, felt like something different.

Jamaican! Now that is something I don’t get everyday.  I do enjoy a beef pie, jerk chicken, rice, all the stuff.

I belly up to the bar and order a Jamaican pale ale a local brewery made for them. Better than Red Stripe!

I got a couple of pies and side of rice. It was rather expensive for a whole meal, plus very large portion sizes. When I encounter this I just order a couple of appetizers and maybe a salad or side.

A few blocks away was the Eagle and Child pub. It was across the street from the literature department so that explains why lots of writers went there.

It was very small, a bit of standing room in the front before it opens up to a nice room with tables in the back.

Cash only too I recall, no cards here. This is also a real beer destination with 4 hand cranked taps of beer.

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In the corner was where the writers met for pints after teaching class. I sat for a good while just wondering what all they talked about…

‘Clive, what are you writing about now?’

‘Well John, it’s about a magical land some children stumble upon, witches and a lion I’m thinking of naming Aslan. How about you?’

‘Oh well I’m still writing about orcs, hobbits, faeries. I think I have cracked writing a new language for the elves as well.’

To my surprise they had last call just after 10pm. I wanted another pint, just not going to get one here.

Probably for the best, it had been a long travel day, I needed to rest up for tomorrow!

Beer Oxford Gold

Song  radiohead   Darkest Hour

Dream trip Day 8   London to Brussels, Koln, Karlsruhe Germany by train

Woke up with plenty of time as I was only 30 min away from train station.

Ate bfest buffet last time. Will miss having a couple free whipped coffees with milk.

Checked out and learned I got a couple £ back for returning card. Seems they are souvenirs or just easily lost.

Walked to Victoria station to St Pancreas for international rails.

Passed through passport control where bags X-rayed.

French guy look at passport, duly stamped after 2 second review. No real point to process.

Over 30 min before depart and zero water fountains. Have pay 2£ for water & paper, no free water as you also pay to pee.

Near board time the dreaded delayed announcement is broadcast, 30min.

45min delay so I wash up, who knows when I’ll see restroom again.

Finally near an hour delay, we frantically board. Only then I realize my ticket is in German and I have no idea which car or seat I’m in so I just sit down and quickly told to move by the seat holder.

Find conductor who points me to seat info. No neighbor, score !

Our delay now means my transfer is impossible so have to reschedule.

Very long line for train info but they have a couple brave people stamping tickets and letting  people know when next train is.

Process is easy,  just get on next train to where you’re going, so 2hr wait for me.

It’s raining when I head out to see Brussels and locate a coffee shop.

Across the street is lunch buffet spot with donner aka schwarma. Prob best option for the day.

Sit and watch it rain while eating delicious shaved meat with veggies and spicy tziki sauce.

Have minor freak out at the train station as I cannot find track 5A but soon realized just need to find track 5 as A-D are walkable on platform.

‘Wait for clean’, states message on car, nothing actually going on inside.

Doors open and so everyone pushes in thus making things take longer.

Find seat and stow bags, music time.

Belgium and Germany are so green. Lush green like out of movies.

Wind farms, cows, & sheep dot the countryside.

Arrive to Köln with moments to spare for next connection.

Find platform and wait… where is the train?

It’s delayed 10min, will leave at same platform so don’t go anywhere, it’ll be here soon is roughly what announcer stated in German. English version was much shorter haha.

20min delayed.

30min delayed.

45 min delayed!

Finally there it is! Nearly an hour late due to mechanical ER, aka union strike.

Dark now and I’m nearly 4 hours total off schedule, all due to a London delay.

Only a few stops yet still over an hour to go.

Pull in round 11pm to Karlsruhe and place is quiet.

I walk through places I’d normally be afraid of, but what do I see: joggers and bikers so must be safe.

Pass by a couple whores who make hand gestures but leave me be.

Wait outside my apt and emailed my host to let me in.

Wait longer, then call, text.

Finally she says buzz her last name. I should’ve figured that out!

I open the large windows take a big breath and collapse onto the bed. Fast asleep

Beer: none

Song: Kraftwerk Autobahn

Dream trip Day 7 Laundry day, Oakwood

Due to how much I packed have to wash 1x per week.  I brought 3 shirts, 1 pant, 4 pair socks and 3 pair undergarments. 1 raincoat.

There’s always a guy to help figure out the change and complex computer system to pay for wash and dry.

Expensive to wash, about 6$ but maybe a dollar to dry. Glad I had soap as that was also overpriced.

Alex said Sunday morning was best time to ride metro as it wasn’t crowded

Used my Oyster card to see real cottages vs downtown.

Took 3 transfers to get to Oakwood stop far north outside city.

Got out and very pretty, green with houses all around.

Got some sort of curry pie at train station bakery.

Walked around for a bit through Oakwood park, too large to explore before it got busy.

Found correct train to Pimlico, direct, no transfers. Not sure why I had to transfer so often on the way there.

Packed trains at each stop but I had a seat.

Watched kids first attempt using chop sticks, used both hands and kept dropping his piece before stabbing it to eat. Fail.

Found stop near hostel and got out to buy beers.

Off license is the name for beer, wine stores and I pop in for a couple of bottles.

Back at hostel to drink beers and charge everything for trip tomorrow.

Hostel is also restaurant and been eyeing fried rice I saw all week. It was pretty good and not expensive.

Had a couple more pints to ensure I was tired so I could go to sleep early and thus wake up early to catch my train.

Anxious sleep, not full night but enough.

Beer: James’ Brown Ale
Song: Seal  Crazy

Dream trip Day 6  Mondo Brewing, Brixton shopping, Spanish match at pub

Visited post office nearby after Bfest for stamps and to mail postys.

Trained to Brixton to see O2 arena and shop.

Needed shower shoes, socks and hat.

Found a TK Maxx, same as TJ Maxx in US; good clothes, cheap.

Back to hostel to drop bag and new items, figure best to not have anything on me to see match later.

Mondo Brewing party began at 2 so was killing time until then walking neighborhood.

Had a few halfs and listened to DJ play his computer mix, no records!

Talked w Mo who was painting brewery name on front of the building.

Talked w local regular for a bit. They are happy to have a closer spot to go with only beer. Most other spots were pubs w food and loud music.

‘Sometimes you just want to have a couple pints in a quiet place,’ he said.

Bused over to rail station, going to Camino, a Spanish pub to watch footy match with Alex.

Real hungry and stopped in at Chicken House, very close to KFC style.

Pub was neat St. Pancreas Station where I was to leave from soon, so good to know the station and area.

Found Alex and bought pints of dark Spanish beer.

Alex booked ticket and hostel to Barcelona, very excited to finally see the city with friends.

Crowded pub, shoulder to shoulder all match. Hot, lots of bumping into each other.

It was then I decided while I liked the city I couldn’t live in London, not central area anyway, too many people.

Real Madrid vs Atletico was a back and forth defense. Only 1 goal in first half.

Second half a bit more action and Atletico scored w great looking goal.

Match ended tied, even with injury time.

Those players are great actors or hams not sure which as they flopped and over exaggerate any takedown. Hard to tell the real hurt players.

Shootout was decider, everyone scored since goalie just guesses which side to defend. Not ideal way to determine winner. 

Fun ride home on metro, lots of drunks messing w other riders.

Caught a bit of open mike at the hostel, very crowded, it’s a real bar at night.

Beer: Mahou

Song: Oasis Wonderwall