Ordinarily, I would have just uploaded these pictures to twitpic with the appropriate comment. But for some reason my rental "global phone", which was doubling as my camera, wouldn't let me copy the pictures from it onto my hard drive without software, nor did I want to pay a data upload charge just to make fun of Justin Bartha or provide the world with the 9 millionth amateur photo of Big Ben.
Plus, after all, this IS my blog, right? Uploading photos of one's vacation is a blogger tradition that dates back to 2002 or whenever blogs became popular. So here you go, my London Journey, via hastily taken, poorly lit photographs! Enjoy!
(NOTE - Click to enlarge any image)
One of the "cultural differences" I found most fascinating is how much London loves its ice cream. B&Js is an American company and I've never seen a vending machine devoted to them, yet this was located pretty much right off the airplane (I saw this before I even saw a coke machine!). Plus all movie theaters had large selections of frozen treats, whereas here we might get those frozen Crunch chunks and that's about it. There were also ice cream shops pretty much on every corner.
This is the line at customs, which was long enough to keep me from seeing the first 10 minutes of Hatchet at the Prince Charles Cinema, where Adam Green was showing it, along with E.T. (!), as a stage-setter for the premiere of Hatchet II the next day. This was my first time traveling outside of the country (I hadn't even signed my brand new passport, the guy at LAX had to tell me to do so), so this was all new to me. And annoying. Come on, I just want to watch horror movies! Oddly, I was checked more thoroughly upon returning to the US.
So because of the double-decker buses, they need to have these signs about low-hanging trees, even though they don't look particularly low. Someone who came along before me apparently also felt they were a bit pointless and worth mocking (see 2nd image closeup).
A couple of shots of Piccadilly Circus, which is where the American Werewolf (in London) carried out the bulk of his rampage. I had gone there to visit Lillywhite's, a sporting good store that came recommended via twitter pals after my backpack zipper broke while carrying it and my luggage up a wet, 195 step spiral staircase the night before. Nothing broke, thankfully. And let's assume that the kind woman who helped me pick everything up and get it up the rest of the stairs without further incident is an avid HMAD reader - thank you, kind lady!!! That was the 2nd thing that struck me about London, actually - people there were very polite and nice, at least in my experience.
A couple of shots of everyone rushing/cramming in for the premiere of Hatchet II! I believe it was due to a misunderstanding that I had done the opening titles, so they didn't want to miss them. Sorry guys, I did the ones at the end! I took a picture of that too (on my credit for doing the end titles - META) but it's too blurry to bother uploading. See it for yourself on October 1st!
This was a salon/cafe next door to my hotel. I tried to get a picture of the rat that I saw scurrying about (while they were closed for the night), but he hid under a counter. So I took a pic of the storefront instead. Therefore, if you're ever in London, on Holborn St, do NOT eat/get a haircut there. Because they have rats. My hotel, for the record, was ridiculously clean. I was sort of expecting a dump, considering how cheap it was (US$50 a night!), but it was very nice, comfortable, and came with a HUGE free breakfast. The concierge also helped me find the Prince Charles on my first night. I was very happy with my stay at High Holborn Hall.
Frightfest ended on August 30th, but my flight back was on Sept 1st. So I had the 31st to finally go around London and see stuff beyond the path from my hotel to the Empire Cinema. But of course, my idea of being a tourist is seeing other horror related stuff, so I set out to visit the London Dungeon, which is a museum/amusement park hybrid. But as I got off the tube, I was approached by a barker for the London Bridge Experience/London Tombs, which was a. cheaper, b. closer, and c. voted scarier. I'll just have to take their word for it on the latter, as I didn't find it particularly scary, but it was a good time. Still wish I went to the Dungeon though, since that had a boat ride and other sitting activities, and this was just a nonstop walk-around (I was pretty exhausted). Next time, Gadget...
The marker for London Bridge and an accompanying view from it. Here's the thing about bridges - they're more interesting when looking at them from afar, not being on them. Oh well. It didn't fall down or get transported to Arizona while I was standing on it, so there's something.
If you know me, you know how tickled I am by the word "ham". So this was a delight. I didn't go there, just risked getting robbed on the Tube while I took a picture of the stop marker on the Tube map. Speaking of the Tube, it's possibly the best designed subway I've ever used. Non confusing layouts despite a huge number of lines and stops, crystal clear announcements that even tell moron tourists like me where to get off for specific tourist stops, and plentiful LED displays that told you how long it would be until the next train (which was never more than 5 minutes). I've had more problems getting around in the city I lived in (Boston) than the one I just got to.
The Eye! I really wanted to go on, but it would have been close to 50 US bucks to do so, and I was by myself so it probably wouldn't have been particularly exciting. But it's a sweet looking Ferris Wheel, no?
A couple of shots of Buckingham Palace, where the Queen lives, and works (she queens. And vacuums). This was probably my biggest disappointment about the whole trip, as I discovered that the guards are no longer out on the street, so you can't try to make them laugh or whatever. My guess? Someone made them laugh and their whole shtick was called into question.
I know it was in Paris, not London, but this still reminded me of the tunnel from Irreversible. Here in the states, we don't often have anything helpful like this to prevent us from getting run over. Plus side, we don't run as big of a risk of being raped in the middle of the street.
As I have probably mentioned here before, I'm a big fan of the movie Notting Hill, so of course I went there hoping to run into beautiful actresses or pick up the new John Grisham thriller at a travel book store. But I couldn't really remember anything specific about the movie to take a picture of, and I later learned that the famous blue door has been sold and replaced with a black one, so this picture of a blue door is entirely worthless. So I took a pic of the tube station sign just so I could prove (to myself) that I was really there at all.
The theater front for "Ghost Stories", which I went to with some friends on Tuesday night. Co-written by and co-starring Andy Nyman (the dude who had a nasty run in with a bear trap in Severance), it was a really good, funny, and yes, scary (I jumped twice!) play about a few different stories of supernatural occurrences. Nyman plays the "host" of sorts, who introduces the story and then comes back to explain how it could be supernatural, but also provides a rational explanation for each one. It was really unique for a play, and it all tied together in a very satisfactory way. Definitely worth checking out if you're in London, but I hear they are planning a New York run as well.
Not counting a few pub shots taken by others, this is the only photo of myself I got the entire time I was there, something I realized on the tube back to Heathrow. And thus of course, I took one with pretty much the most non-descript and uninteresting part of London behind me. I might as well be in Lowell, MA.
My final London eatery was this airport joint called Eat. I liked the boldness of that, a name of a place that doubles as directions for what to do there. I lucked out, the guy put in my order for an iced coffee but forgot to charge me for it. He realized his error and just shrugged, giving me one final opportunity to say "Cheers". But this act of kindness prevented me from being a smartass and asking him if they owned a brothel and if so, what did they call it? Also, I forgot the European obsession with mayonnaise (which I hate), so my BLT wasn't particularly enjoyable. Luckily, Virgin Atlantic fills you up on a daytime flight - I got sausage, a wrap, a cheese sandwich, plenty of drinks, and two desserts on my flight, all for free. Score!
So that's a very incomplete, largely uninteresting look at my London trip. Since I was by myself for most of my non-movie watching time and my phone (camera) was always dying, I didn't get to take as many pics as I would like (this is pretty much all of them). But rest assured, I had a grand ol' time and cannot wait to return next year.
And once again, I want to thank my mom for the best Christmas gift (the plane ticket) since my beloved fleece, my sister for the passport and several helpful travel tips, and my wife for organizing the fundraiser website which brought in enough to cover my hotel! And thus in turn, thanks to all who donated - it truly wouldn't have been nearly as enjoyable a trip without your support. And a final thanks to all the folks on Twitter and the Frightfest board (plus a few emails) who provided all the tips about HHH, the Phoenix, etc. I had a wonderful trip thanks to you, as otherwise I probably would have been sleeping on the subway and eating pigeons. You are all the best people in the world!!!