London, Day 5 Before leaving, I bought Timeout's London Walks. Yesterday, being a rather sunny and warmish day, I decided to head out for an area I likely wouldn't go to otherwise...Knightsbridge. I chose one of the longer walks, thinking that the 5 and a half hours they slated for the walk would be long enough to see me through the day. They didn't say that I was going to be passing by a number of shops. Anyway, I saw Kensington Palace (where Princess Margaret, Diana etc. had an "apartment") and sat in the gardens for a while. Then proceeded down Kensington where I had lunch at a chain called Wagamama, a very upscale noodle place. Fortified, I found a few shops, bought a lovely knit polo shirt and proceeded through Belgravia. The walk was really long, and I passed all these parks, which I desperately wanted to stop and rest in. But, they were all private and I had to wait until I had walked all the way to Victoria Station before I found a public space. Like most train and bus depots, the area attracts a lot of homeless (there's a lot of homeless people in London--reminds me of New York in the early 80s). This little park was no exception, and I sat opposite several homeless men who, surprisingly, had a cel phone among them (didn't I report earlier that there *are* thousands of cel phones here?). Another man sat beside me briefly. He spoke to someone in his head, and I heard phrases like "I bet she was a brunette before becoming a blonde," and "Tell me: who raped Marcus?" and "Shall I bring water or cheese?" Each remark was followed by a chuckle. He left after awhile. Although the walk suggested I continue from Victoria Station to Picadilly and then towards Covent Garden, I just couldn't. Happily, I had picked up a bus route map and found several buses that would give me a good tour of London and take me back to Tottenem Court Road and Oxford Street, which is near my hotel. For £1, you can't beat that. Once off the bus, I stopped in Sainsbury's to pick up a snack. It was really full of people doing the same thing. It's amazing how much pre-cooked and pre-packaged food you can get here. I wonder if it's the same syndrome as I've experienced in New York. Lives are so busy and apartments (especially kitchens) are so small, that takeaway is a staple in people's lives. It sure has saved me a bundle in evening meals (in fact, I'm well under my spending budget of $100.00 CDN a day). Back at the hotel, I napped for an hour. I wasn't hungry, but decided to take a walk. Back down Gower street to Oxford, to Shaftesbury, to Neal, and I suddenly found myself back in Covent Garden. It was actually faster to walk than take the tube. I didn't realize how close I was. I sat in a cafe and ordered a mint tea. An American blues guitarist was playing and he was really quite good, and really played up his southern roots to the delight of the audience, who would imitate his American Southern drawl over their own German, French, and various Eastern Eurpean accents. Fun. Got back to my hotel in time to catch BBC2's report on football hooliganism. Since I'm not familiar with the style of reporting on the BBC, I don't know how much of it was sensationalized. Let's just say that there are small groups of organized football fans who love to fight and...ummm...like to do the Nazi salute and the goose step. And beat up people who are darker than themselves. Fell asleep to the very creepy Arlington Road. I now have something of a routine here that replicates my waking up process at home. Breakfast service ends at 9:00, so I try to make it down by 8:30 at the very latest. Everyone else seems to have showered and shaved before coming down. I just make sure that my hair isn't all cockeyed, pull a sweatshirt over my pyjamas and go downstairs to the breakfast room. Only later do I have the attention span required to clean myself up and think through what I'm going to do and how I'm going to get there. Because the hotel serves the worst coffee in the world, I stop at a little Italian cafe nearby, order a latte, sit outside, and collect my thoughts. Finally, I come here to the interner cafe and write my blog before heading out. That's pretty much how I function when at home. Today the Tate Modern and tomorrow Cambridge to romp with Lisa.

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