DAY 24: Second Day in London
I had attempted to write this entry earlier but I couldn’t muster the effort. Felt uninspired. I didn’t have a finger on London yet. Wasn’t sure I had much to write. I took the Victoria Underground into King’s Cross. Didn’t arrive into London’s King’s Cross station until late afternoon. They don’t offer complimentary maps like everywhere else; 3 pounds, the fuckers! It was crowded. Hectic. Hustle and bustle energy. Rain would stop and start at varying intervals. Once I apprehended a map, I circled everything I wanted to see in pen. Wasn’t sure how much I would get accomplished so late in the day.
My York-friend assured me the British Museum would make the trip to London worth it; That was my first stop. Free of charge but a voluntary donation was suggested if you could spare it. I entered the main South entrance. It was overly-crowded. The exterior’s design was heavily influenced by Greek architecture. Off-white concrete columns and a pediment overlooking the courtyard in classical greek-style. With the heavy Greek-influence outside, I assumed what was in store for me inside; I was wrong.
The British Museum was vast and expansive. All-encompassing in it's diversity. They had everything: Ancient Egypt, Greece, Roman, The Middle East, Asia, Africa, Mayans… I could drone on and on down the list of exhibits and numerous rooms filled with different cultures and their remaining artifacts. My York-friend later asked if I’d had a chance to witness the Rosetta Stone and, to be quite frank, I don’t remember seeing it. There was so much to absorb in such a short time that I can’t recall. The museum was set to close in 3 hours so I witnessed what I could. I recommend planning a full day here should you, the reader, ever visit London. It deserves to be fully appreciated in it’s entirety.
I consulted the map again. I realized I was quite far from most of what I wanted to witness. Everything generally ran along the River Thames, which was about a 3-mile hike to the first attraction I wanted to see. I opted to visit one of the parks instead. I’m finding they encapsulate the soul of the cities sometimes. And if Regent Park is any indication, London is an isolating city. Compact but disconnected. Sparse. Everyone with their blinders on, hyper-focused on their business. Some alone and others in small groups sprawled out over a wide, empty field. All in their own little worlds.
As I said earlier, I didn’t have a finger on London yet. The British Museum nor Regent Park helped my understanding too much. It was 8pm at this point and it gets dark around 10. I headed back home. Arrived at the Finsbury Park station. Spotted my bus about to leave upon exiting. Ran for it. Missed it. No biggie though. The buses come around every ten minutes. Shouldn't be an issue. A group of us waited until an announcement was made over the speakers:
“Buses are no longer coming through this station. Please proceed to the next station.”
The next station was 2-miles away. I had no working GPS, no Wi-Fi hot spots in sight, and no one with any insight into how to get to where I was staying. I was alone. I read the map and guessed a couple streets before instinct would kick in to turn back around and re-think my strategy. A man dressed in all-black with multiple piercings took notice of me as I was passing him. Everything about his body language and the look in his eyes revealed his interest in the camera bag on my back. Started following me until I glared at him long enough to fuck off. I didn’t say anything and he walked away.
Found the nearest bus stop and consulted the routes. The sun was setting and I was in a sketchy area. I didn’t want to know what this place became during nightfall. Wrote down each stop my bus was suppose to make along the way. Did my best to stick to that route. 45-minutes later and I began recognizing my surroundings. I followed the bus path until I found the main road. Walked until I found it: the Iceland grocery store I visited yesterday.
This visual checkpoint meant my “home” was around the corner. When I turned the corner, however, I froze. Group of four men slowly trailing down the street. Nothing about them appeared inviting. Instinct told me they were looking for trouble. I waited by the grocery store until they vanished down another street. They didn't notice me. I was in the clear and back home before the sun vanished.