Monday, June 20, 2011

English Weekend

My weekend in London was nearly a weekend in Paris. Naomi's friend Sophia was having a birthday party there, and they had an extra unused train ticket...but it was non-transferable and in someone else's name. On Friday morning, I went with Naomi to King's Cross to ask if they would transfer the ticket into my name anyway, which was met with a snappy "I think you already know the answer to that question." Fail. I decided that I would rather not risk getting deported from the European Union, so I stayed behind in London.

Instead, I met up with David and we went to the Ascot Racecourse for Day 4 of the Royal Ascot, which is kind of like our Kentucky Derby.

There were six races throughout the day. We only placed bets on the fifth race, the Queen's Vase. Of course I had never heard of any of the horses, so I picked two long-shots (Eternal Heart and Namibian) to finish in the top three while David picked a third long-shot (Solar Sky) to do the same. Amazingly, at the end of the 2-mile sprint, all three horses that we picked finished in the top three, with Namibian and Solar Sky both coming out of nowhere at the end to finish first and second. I now fully understand how one develops a gambling problem...that shit is thrilling.

Somehow, in spite of our miraculous foresight, we only won 11 pounds, which wasn't even enough for a bottle of wine at the tracks. But it was great fun anyway. The best part about the Ascot for me was witnessing all of the proper English lads and ladies dressed up as fancily as you can imagine, getting wasted in the middle of the afternoon, and then sliding and falling through the mud when it began to rain heavily later in the day. Transcendent comedy.

At the end of the afternoon, we made the impulsive decision to take the train to Oxford with a bunch of David's old classmates. Things got a bit out of hand...to summarize, David and I wound up on the streets of Oxford at 4 in the morning without anywhere to crash, then took a 2-hour bus ride back to central London. After sleeping nearly the entire day, at night we went to a comedy show at the Udderbelly South Bank Centre. The venue itself may have been funnier than the comedians: it is a giant, inflatable upside-down purple cow. Just bizarre.

We saw The Hangover: Part Two on Sunday and realized just how tame our Friday night had been in comparison. The portrayal of Thailand is spot on, down to every disgusting detail...how the film was rated 15 in the UK and not 18 is beyond me. Anyway, after the film we had a nice roast dinner which is apparently a Sunday tradition in London.

We went back to Naomi's place, and after a few drinks David had to catch the last train home. Soon after, Naomi arrived back from Paris and we hung out and talked for quite a while. Before long, it was bright outside so I crashed for a couple hours before saying goodbye to Naomi and making the two-hour trip back to Heathrow to catch my flight home. Spending the weekend in London was a nice transition back into Westernized society, and spending it with my favorite pair of siblings was the perfect way to end my 32-week journey. I want to thank all of you for following me along the way. I'll leave you with a good Neil Strauss quote: "Life is short and the world is large." So go travel. Anywhere. I'll be editing a few videos and posting them on here during the coming weeks. So stay tuned, and of course, stay gluten-free.