London(Sep 3-10 / Nov 3-4)
September 2, Monday
I arrived in the morning, not exactly on schedule, but not too late.
The plane was a new 777 with "individual entertainment centers" - small TV
screens mounted in the back of front seats. You can select one of 6 TV
programs and a lot of radio channels. The food was pretty good.
Unfortunately I fall asleep even before the dinner (for half hour, I
guess) and didn't sleep after that (which was my plan to adapt to London
time sooner - I almost didn't sleep the night before with this goal in
One of the reasons was my neighbor. It was funny, I noticed this cute man
in the waiting area (he looked British, but did remained me someone, after
few minutes of staring at him I realized his face looked very similar to
Robin Williams' :-)). His sit was next to mine, we stroke conversation
right away, he told that he was visiting San Francisco for 2 weeks just
couple days ago... Word by word - and it was that non-frequent case that
my gaydar worked (and he didn't have any of accessories which would
suggest it). So we were chatting for hours - he was a German living in
London for some 7 years teaching German Language and Culture in University
(his accent was British, not a bit German). He fall in love with San
Francisco (and with someone *in* San Francisco) - so he was already
plotting plans how to go to Bay Area to study for Ph.D. or something. It
was very pleasant to talk with him all the way.
I watched _Flipper_ and _Dancin' in the Rain_ (while sleeping a bit,
having dinner, and drinks, and snacks, fighting a nose-bleed, which
stopped pretty fast and wasn't big deal).
We arrived almost without delay, but then we waited for half hour for
landing, and finally were on the ground with about an hour delay (which
was fine with me - the scheduled arrival time was before 7, we landed a
quarter to 8). The passport control line was incredibly long (there were
some 4 planes from the states landed at about the same time) - it took
about 45 minutes to get my passport stamped. But at least all luggage was
already waiting, so I went to the tube station without further delay. Got
the weekly ticket, got to Bayswater station
where my hotel was located easily enough.
The hotel is just a short block from station. The weather was gray and
drizzling, but warm. My room wasn't ready for some 45 minutes, I almost
fell asleep in the lobby. Hotel looks little bit ran down, the room is on
the smallish side (I guess it's OK for the half-price I am paying, but I
would be disappointed if I plaid regular $160 for it).
September 3, Tuesday
Didn't do much, figured out the Tube (especially stations with trains
going in all directions), slept a lot, found the Internet Cafe (it took
some time before I figured out the phone system in the hotel, the phone
adaptor for my laptop, settings for dial-in).
September 4, Wednesday
I went for a matinee performance of "Passion" in
West End. I was able to
buy a ticket an hour before the show without
any problems. It was very good, though probably way too serious for a
musical - I don't know why they didn't call it an opera. Serious drama of
passion extremly well produced and sung (and Michael Ball is cute, and
has nice ass - this serious play starts with a bed scene, very realistic
in that, and he runs around in a very short sleeping shirt). I liked the
show a lot.
September 5, Thursday
Met Andrew at Gatwick. His old picture I had on
my computer wasn't too good, but good enough for me to recognize him in a
Andrew proved to be the same sweet guy I knew on IRC. He is quite reserved on
outside, but has very intensive internal life, which seldom gets out. It was
very easy to interact with him, and he was perfect a companion. I did expect
some more emotions, but his emotions were not directed at me.
Finally, I started to be a tourist. We walked around the city without a
specific goal in mind, just looking at all standard places, like Westminster or Trafalgar Sq (where we climbed on
and posed with the lions). We found that in London it
is somehow difficult to tell apart live people from wax
That night we went to G.A.Y. (if I remember correctly) but went home not too late,
after all, Andrew was travelling the night before.
September 6, Friday
This day was spent in British Museum (for some 4-5 hours, I guess, with 2 or 3
breaks, sometimes it seemed to be too stuffy inside - and a sit outside
was needed) - for me it was the start of my Asia Minor adventures. I wondered -
if all of the Parthenon was there - what did I see in Athens then?
St. Paul Cathedral stairs were as claustrophobic
as any, but the view from the top was worth it.
This night was in Heaven. No, not really in Heaven, but in huge
club with this name. It has some 4 dance floors, very
good air-conditioning, and awful techno-music. Everywhere we saw ads for "wet
underware contest" to be held on September 7th. I looked at my watch - it said
09-07-96, so we waited, and waited, and waited. Andrew fall asleep right in the
middle of that pounding loud music (which was good thing - after that I didn't
have second thought whether my snoring is loud or not). Nothing happened. It took
us couple days to realize that they meant night from 7th to 8th, not the night
from 6th to 7th.
September 7, Saturday
It was a day of National Gallery - I finished my personal visits to "Great Museums
of the World." (When I was a kid, my brother borrowed from his friend albums from
the series with such a name. It had Louvre, Hermitage, Prado, Metropolitan etc.
London's National Gallery made my personal experiences complete.)
We had a nice dinner at the Cafe Royal (food was classic and classy, and
the plaque on the wall mentioned that Oscar Wilde frequented the place.)
The boat cruise on Thames is not to be missed. The guide was chatty, and
most of his jokes were actually funny. But the view of London from the
boat is quite breathtaking - if I weren't in love with London by that time -
I would fall in love with it on the boat.
September 8, Sunday
This day we visited Her Majesty the Queen. Well, she was out of the palace, so
we had just look at the empty rooms. The invitation
looked quite nice, but they didn't let us to take pictures
Later we met Ilya, went to Earl's to see the show, were looking for a club for
quite some time unsucessfully (one was almost empty, another had special party)
until we ended up in D.M.P.I. (we couldn't find it and had to get a black
taxi to get to the place just few blocks away.)
September 9, Monday
Mme Tussaud - nothing to write about, but a lot of pictures
Sherlock Holmes museum deserves it's own page
September 10, Tuesday.
Andrew leaves for Tallinn with flight 172, 10:30 AM
Vadim leaves for Brussels from London Waterloo Int. train station by train
EST 9124 at 10:27pm, arrives at Bruxelles-Midi Est. at 14:45 PM
There his namesake meets him and they follow to Amsterdam.
November 3, Sunday
Vadim arrives from Paris by train 9031 leaving Paris 1:04 PM, arriving at
Waterloo 3:26 PM
November 4, Monday
United Airlines Flight 955 leaves London/Heathrow at 8:20 AM, arrives in
SFO 11:40 AM
End of the Great Tour, Vadim goes to work the same day :(