DAY 20: First Day in York
Travel day. Long one too. Two trains and a flight out of Brussels International Airport for the next location. Bit of a detour, really. While not economical, it felt worth it. That kept me going.
Brussels International Airport check-in was a zoo. Despised it. My 40-minute direct flight was delayed an hour and a half, which completely screwed my train schedule from London Gatwick. Upon landing in Gatwick, the heat was immediately apparent. It was a sauna in that airport. Miami-level humidity. Gatwick was no less a zoo than Brussels was, only more compact and steaming hot. They don’t bother installing air-conditioning systems here. Managed to get a train ticket amidst the chaos. Customer representative assured me platform 4 would harbor my ride into London. Naturally it was switched to platform 1 and there was almost no time to get there but I managed.
Rode into King’s Cross station in the heart of London. My eyes widened and I smiled upon looking down the Thames River seeing the Tower Bridge, and the Millennium Bridge, etc. Countless film productions have come through here; I believe the most recent one I recalled was “Guardians of the Galaxy”. Landed in St. Pancras, walked across to King’s Cross and took a train to York, which is a two-hour ride North.
I didn’t experience London for longer than 15-minutes in King’s Cross, so I can’t compare York and London effectively yet but they seem entirely different. London is bussling with activity but when I arrived in York, it was dead quiet. Desserted. Reminded me of Bruges a bit.
So, I finally made it. I’m visiting a dear friend and his wonderful girlfriend for a few days. He was waiting for me on the platform when I arrived and I must admit, it was a relief seeing a familiar face. He’s attending the University of York and finishing his PhD. He’ll be finished in three months and moving back to the states with his lady soon after. We walked through York together from the station, showing me the highlights of what York had to offer. Some alleys were taken right out of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Felt like being in Diagon Alley here and there. Narrow streets with two-story shops and pubs toppling over each other. Like they were gradually colliding the further you walked down the street.
Though York seemed quiet and peaceful, there were certainly areas and people to be wary of. Specifically the park at night but that’s a given, really. The first year my friend attended York University he was mugged at knife-point. Two men walking alongside each other were walking in the opposite direction he was but when they came within close proximity, the two men split off. They stopped my friend dead in his tracks, overwhelming him from his left and right. They took his wallet, his phone and ran off but they never used anything; The authorities suspected it was a gang initiation.
We continued through York. He showed me more places to visit and Johnny Depp’s favorite spot; Believe it was called Evil Eye Lounge. We ate at a McDonalds, which has consistently been an amusing site in Europe. They typically consist of a gorgeous old cobblestone building with a giant yellow “M” outside of it. It was either that or Subway but if you work in the film industry, it’s almost an unspoken cardinal rule not to ever eat Subway outside of set.
Stayed up chatting before tuckering out at 3am. This detour was was more than worth the trip. Important. It supports what I said earlier about disconnecting to re-connect. Finding those people who are genuinely good and worth giving your time and effort and thoughts to. Worth investing yourself in. Good people still exist, that’s what this trip has reminded me. That goes for the people of York I’ve met thus far too. On our walk to his apartment, a homeless man asking for change was more pleasant than any stranger I’ve encountered almost anywhere in Europe thus far. I didn’t give the man any change; I don’t care how nice he was, I don’t give money to the homeless. Too many times I’ve seen first-hand what homeless individuals do with that cash, so I made myself a promise: if I see that homeless man again, I’m buying him lunch.