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Month: November, 2013

30 November 2013 – day 301 – My leather jacket and First thanksgiving dinner!

Since I can remember I’ve wanted a leather jacket. In Bloem they were always too expensive. Earlier this year in Florence I saw a leather jacket at a leather market, I could afford it, barely, if I didn’t buy anything else on the rest of the trip and emptied my savings account. Mum took a picture of the jacket and I left it. Once we were back in Dubai her taxi driver, Assam, asked how our trip went and Mum told him about the jacket. He said that he had a family member in Pakistan who worked in a leather factory and if we were to give him a picture of a jacket that I liked he could have it made for me for a lot cheaper than I would ever pay in a store. Months went by, we sent my measurements to Pakistan and I kept wondering if maybe it wouldn’t happen. Today I’m wearing the most beautiful black leather jacket! I know that it was Mr. Assam who brought it for me from Pakistan, but to me it feels like a gift from God.

On Thursday evening I had my first ever Thanksgiving dinner. Mum’s college, Jessica, and her husband, Sean, invited a bunch of people over to their house. It looked exactly like in the movies. All the food on the table, two Turkeys, pumpkin pie, salad, mash, and stuffing – everything was there. I never thought I’d like spicy food, but I love it. My favorite thing on the table was the chilies stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon. Jessica had made a really great rum punch and with alcohol and pork in the same room all seemed right with the world again! I met some cool people and I really hope I get to see some of them again.

22/11/2013 – Day 293 – Under the sea

My underwater experience was a lot different than I had anticipated. I went to the beach earlier than was requested. It took some time for me to locate my group. Greetings where done, shoes where put on and flippers handed out. We learned the hand signals to use under the water. And then we were each given an oxygen tank. This was really very heavy, I gym, I’m use to picking up a few kilos, but this thing hurt me! We had to carry the tanks on our backs a few hundred meters over the beach to the water.

Once in the water the oxygen tank felt light and didn’t bother me at all. We went under, we had to hold hands most of the time, I’m not sure why, though. It felt weird swimming with an unknown group, holding a strangers hand and trying to swim at the same time. An unfortunate kick now and then happened, but didn’t hurt. I thought we would see a lot more of the underwater world, but we only saw some little white fish towards the end of the session, other than that I saw nothing else that lived down there.

I went down a little too low over one of the reefs and scratched my leg on something with black spikes. Our instructor said I shouldn’t worry and that it isn’t poisonous. There were three very small black splinters in my leg when I got home; I got two of them out, but the third one swelled a little and was sore for a few days.

After the diving we had to carry the oxygen tanks back over the beach and when I sat down to remove mine at the meeting point it tilted and the strap bruised my neck! That evening I found that it had also bruised my shoulders and chest. Not very badly, but everything was tender and a light blue color. I thought we would see a ton of cool stuff under the water, maybe swim to a coral reef like in Finding Nemo, instead I just saw one school of small white fish? Not what I had expected. Well, that’s one thing off my bucket list.

I was at the Dubai Mall this week and sat outside of the bookstore just in time to see the Dancing Fountains, I only stayed for 10min but it was really beautiful and I had a great view. Some evening I’ll go back, maybe spend an hour there just watching.

A dream come true: London – day 282

After a long flight with a little turbulence I arrived in London on Thursday morning at 7 o’clock for the very first time in my life. It was a dream come true for me, I’ve always wanted to go there. I kind of slept on the plain, but still I was extremely tired when I got there. An Irish guy drove us to the hotel, so cool to hear the accent. Just after arriving I went to Camden market, a really cool place; they sell so many clothes and vintage stuff, a lot of accessories.

Our hotel was in Baker Street, in a superb location. Friday morning in London I went to St. James Church in George Street. I had seen the church building the previous evening and just went back because it seemed so beautiful. I ended up attending the mass service at 7:15 that morning, it was pretty cool, I’ve never attended a Roman Catholic service before. I liked starting my day with God. Near the hotel was a little Italian restaurant, Blandfords, with the best ham and cheese croissants and coffee. We had breakfast there every morning. After breakfast I went to Trafalgar Square, found Big Ben and saw Westminster Abbey. I was at Big Ben just before 10 o’clock and sat down to wait and listen at the bell hitting 10.

I walked through Hyde Park to Buckingham Palace, then strolled back to Trafalgar Square and went into the National Gallery. I could see that the paintings where beautiful and really good, but still I couldn’t stay there for hours the way other people seem to be able to. Next to the National Gallery is St. Martin’s in the Fields Church. I heard that they sell lunch there and I ended up having green goo with was apparently soup.  After that hotel and bed, later that afternoon I went back to Camden Market and bought some tops and a cute bracelet. Had awesome lasagna for dinner at a place called Caldesi.

Saturday morning I went to see Peter Pan’s Statue. I’ve always loved the story, I’ve read the book seen every version of the film I know exists and read about the author’s life. I got onto a big red bus and was dropped at Kensington Gardens. An icy wind was blowing and I walked around trying to locate Peter Pan. I sat down at the statue when I finally found it; so beautiful, the boy who never grew up.

I had forgotten that it was Saturday so I went to Notting Hill on possibly the busiest day of the week. In Notting Hill on Saturdays there is a market, Portobello Market. It was so busy I could hardly walk! At first I thought about shopping for a new handbag or something. After a few hours of wondering around I turned back and headed to the station. On my way back I found an Acapella group singing and sat down to listen to them. Only when they had finished their entire performance did I get back up and walk to the station.

I got on a train and headed to Paddington station, where I unfortunately did not find the statue of Paddington bear. By this time my feet where aching. I walked to Hamley’s, I’d heard that it was the biggest or one of the biggest toy stores in the world. It’s a huge 5story building just filled with toys. It was crammed and crowed when I got there, usually I can handle a lot of people, but this was too much, the street in front of the store was so busy, some antique car show going on and inside the store where a lot of parents shopping for Christmas. It was pretty darn cool seeing a toy store that big though. I went back to the hotel and had another bad lunch, this time with chicken pie. I headed to the British Library late that afternoon. I had about an hour before the library closed, but I walked around only one room, the cool room! A lot of Shakespeare’s originals work is there, in his own handwriting, the oldest complete New Testament bible is and Jane Austen’s original stuff, along with her tiny writing desk. The Beatles original songs, written on the back of a birthday card and other scraps of paper, the work of Mozart and Beethoven, all the original stuff. Was pretty cool to see it all. And also fascinating that it was all preserved.

I read my first love story while in London, Dear John. I hated the ending, but the story was well told.

Sunday morning Mum and I went to Windsor Castle. We took a train from Paddington Station to Windsor, a small town just outside of London. I saw Queen Mary’s doll house, it’s probably 3m x 2m and I guess about 2m high! Every tiny little plate, knife and fork is made of actual silver and the doll house’s plumbing works, if you open the mini taps water will apparently actually come out! It’s an exact miniature replica of a huge three story building. We walked through the palace, saw all the cool stuff, swords, knight’s armor, pistols, paintings, tapestries, drawing rooms, it’s all there and really interesting. After seeing the drawing rooms I just really hope that the royal family has comfy couches in the parts of the castle that aren’t open to the public. The Castle was different from anything I’ve ever seen, exceptionally beautiful.

We had lunch at a pub called the King and Crown. Oh, and I learned where pubs got their names: apparently when pubs started a lot of Britain’s population couldn’t read, so to distinguish between different pubs the owners would nail a picture of something above the door! That’s why Pubs always have these pretty weird names, like the Golden Pig…

Monday was an ordinary day with an extraordinary ending. Monday morning went completely different than I planned. I wanted to go to Ripley’s believe it or not Museum. I was there at 9:20 and expected the place to open at 10 o’clock. Just after 10 I heard that the place actually only opens at 12 o’clock, with that I decided on a change of plans. I had heard that the Change of Guard at Buckingham palace takes place at 11:30. I got on a train, walked from the station to the Palace, but when I got there, there where so many people squashed against the fence of the palace and on every place that was high enough people stood to try and see over the heads of the people in front of them.  I couldn’t see anything! Apparently the change of the guard is at 11, so when I got there all the other people had already found good standing spots.

I decided that the money I wanted to spend at the Ripley’s museum could rather be put towards some shopping and since I couldn’t see the guards or the palace I might as well just head to Oxford Street. I walked around and found absolutely nothing I wanted to buy, even if I had been willing to spend a ton of money there was nothing I wanted to spend it on. I sat down on the side walk and tried to think of what to do next. When my feet where willing to carry me again I got up and went to search for lunch. Lasagna for lunch and then bed.

4 o’clock that afternoon I impulsively decided to dash to the theatre with the hope of getting a last minute cheap seat ticket. Mum had to work the next day, so I went on my own. I got a ticket for a great price and a really good seat. I went to see Phantom of the Opera, first time I’ve seen it on stage. It was like a once in a life time experience, the words seemed to cut through the air. I know the film very well, but this was something else.

My dinner just before the show was a cheese burger and a beer, my first beer ever. Never been much of a beer fan, but somehow it seemed appropriate in London…

After the show, when walking out of the theatre it seems like every modern, normal worldly sound makes the reality of the show slip further into a memory and the more sounds I hear the more blurry the memory becomes. Every sound outside the theatre makes the sound of the music in my mind fade.

I finished Dear John, terrible ending.

 

Tuesday morning I went to buy another cheap theatre ticket for that evening. I walked through London’s rain. The cold was amazing, rain was fantastic and grey skies where beautiful. I walked through the streets for a long time, not famous streets of past any extraordinary buildings, I was just drinking in London and the rain (“feel the rain on your skin, no one else can feel it for you, only you can let it in…”)

I ended up at Fortnum and Mason, it’s a super old British shop, really fancy. Apparently they were two butlers of a princes or somebody fancy and then they started a shop for all the rich people. The Christmas decorations where just gorgeous, I’ve never seen anything like it in reality, only in movies. It was so pretty and fancy and different. The shop was too expensive for me to buy anything, though.  

My evening was indescribable, Warhorse on stage was beyond words amazing. At first I saw the wooden frame of the horse and the guys inside it, but by the end it felt as if I were really looking at an actual horse. I’m so glad cheap seats exist, without them I wouldn’t be able to go the theatre.

 

Wednesday morning at 10 o’clock I went to buy 2 tickets for Lion King, Mum was coming with me that evening. After that I walked around in the rain, went to Buckingham Palace – again! No change of the guards because of the rain…

Lion King on stage. Words fail me. I knew every song and enjoyed it very much.

 

Thursday I went to Burrow Market, it’s a really great food market, the type of place I imagine Hobbits would shop at to fill their kitchen, tunnels and pantries. There where cheeses that where a whole meter wide! I saw dead rabbits, so sad, I know they’re edible but I don’t eat fluffy things. Hobbit Paradise. I bought a pie with wild boar in it, but I couldn’t eat it, the taste was just too weird for me.   I did a walk from London Bridge to St. Paul’s, that’s the church in Mary Poppins in front of which the old Bird Woman sits. The route I walked took me passed Shakespeare’s church and the rebuild original round theatre where Mr. Shakespeare wrote and imagined all his plays, I saw the teeny tiny little boat that was used to discover the world a few hundred years ago – it’s really tiny! I passed a prison, but didn’t go in… Cool route to walk, you see Tower Bridge in the distance and I bought a little Cross necklace at St. Paul’s, but I didn’t walk through the church, it was a little more expensive than I wanted to pay.

 

Thursday evening I was back at the theatre. It’s an expensive hobby to have, but I enjoyed every single night. I went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, unfortunately it wasn’t as good as I had expected. It wasn’t based on the movie from 1971, it was different music, but still nice.

Friday morning I realized that the next day London would be only a memory. I went back and bought a last theatre ticket, I was going to see War Horse again. I enjoyed it so much the first time, I didn’t want to leave London without seeing it again. My plan was to go and see the Change of the Guards that day, but it was raining! I had a lazy day and spent my afternoon in the hotel, when I went out for a walk it was pouring rain and I was soaked within minutes. I ran back to the hotel and decided to hide out there with coffee until the storm passed. I ended up having fish and chips for dinner there and then left for the theatre with butterflies in my tummy. I couldn’t wait to see it all again.

I woke up on Saturday morning, packed my bags and had a last croissant at the little Italian place. With that and some rain my time in London was over and we were dropped at the airport.