Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Day Three

When we made our first trip to London two years ago we rode a tour bus for a single day out to Bath and Stonehenge. This is the first time I've ever got on a tour bus with people I'm now stuck with for the next six days. As I type this we've just got back to our room after a truly interminable (because the wait staff sucked) and shitty (because the food sucked) dinner at a rundown Ramada outside of Leeds. We didn't have another option. In the room to the right of us a Japanese family is yelling at each other and opening and slamming cabinet drawers and the bathroom door, in the room to our left an elderly Russian couple is yelling at each other because they both cannot hear and don't want to hear what the other is saying. They sat in front of me and Earthgirl on the bus today, farting, yelling at each other because they both cannot hear and don't want to hear what the other is saying.

The two above photos are from Cambridge, which is charming and yadda. I've never felt so old. I understand the practicality of guided tours, but lordy, the contempt of the locals as pasty old New Zealanders and Russians and Americans and shrunken old Japanese waddle off tour buses with their cameras is deserved. Our tour guide, a Scotsman named Gavin, herds us to the city's chief attraction like a perky borscht terrier then releases us into the tourist traps, barking departure times with pretend threats of abandonment of stragglers.

York was charming and yadda. There are cat statuary about the city, a tribute to the felines' help in vanquishing the rats that brought plague. The old city center is a maze of narrow alleys in which exactly the wool/jewelry/soap/scented candles/touristy trinket establishments you'd expect exist. The York Minster is a spectacular building from the outside and the entrance in. We were told for fifteen pounds a piece each we could see how truly spectacular it is. I paid 40 pence to pee in a city toilet and watched the seat rotate 360 degrees upon flushing to rinse itself off. That? I'd never seen before.

I am having a good time, and since Planet and her friends want nothing to do with us it's been fun walking around with Earthgirl, but it feels so lame, so handicapped and senior-citizened. (We are not the youngest, though we bring down the groups median age). The greasy limp haddock and greasy baby potatoes and a dessert of cat yak called Apple Crisp didn't help. Oh good, the Japanese family next door just invited in all the other friends and relatives on the tour and they're all yelling at the top of their lungs to be the loudest.

We've been given our orders for tomorrow. Wake-up call at 615, bags out for the valet by 645, breakfast at 700, on bus by 745. There will be a seat rotation - every day, move forward four rows clockwise; I'm under the impression this is more about who gets on and off the bus first each stop more than sight lines since the coach has huge windows and there are no bad sight lines, and watching old people fight to be the first off the bus convinces me. We will stop Point A @ whatever time, Point B, then C, etc. Gah.

I did walk into a Ladbrokes and bet three pounds Fulham wins the Premiership next season at 500-1 odds. The man who took the bet laughed, Always glad to take money from Americans. I'll post the ticket when I again have access to a scanner. I am having fun. That's been the most fun so far.


  1. Sampselle wept, you're a shitty reporter. Who are the dead guys?

  2. Landru, that would be Lieutenants Cantor and Russell, Sergeants Reensmith, Mountain, and Poplar...

  3. My wife is taking a gaggle of high schoolers to London today. If I wasn't worried for her sanity in organizing the trip in the first place, I sure as hell am wondering what mental condition I'll get her back in...

    Also good to have reinforced that we made the right decision in going rental-car vs. bus for our Ireland trip last summer.

  4. Heh. I think ur a great travel writer.

  5. Charging tourists photographing, by the shot, can't be far behind.