Well, I’m just about done here. I’m in the middle of packing, and I’m finally going back to the States. Supposedly for good this time. Well, not forever, but for this contract, anyway. I love London, but I’ve had about enough of it for now. Besides, it’s Christmas, and I need to be with my family and friends, not 3500 miles away. Speaking of that, why does everyone get so nasty this time of year? I always get cheered up when it’s almost Christmas, and everyone around me is so grumpy and violent. I’ve been listening to people be nasty for weeks now, and I’m sick of it. I don’t feel like fighting, and I just want to go home. And I want a White Christmas. And the next person who’s ugly to me (or someone near me) gets a punch in the mouth!
I had an awesome time in Prague, and came back and found out that I’ve been approved for the Site Fights! How cool is that? I’ve been thinking of trying to enter the fights forever, but never thought I’d do it. Chicken. But now I’m approved, and my first fight is next Monday. I guess I’d better get going on my spirit page, huh? Prague was amazing. It was exactly like I expected, but better. The scenery was just as magical as I expected. All these incredible spires and cobblestone streets. But I expected it to be a very poor area, and war-torn, because of all the fighting that went on a few years ago. But it was neither. The people were all very well-dressed, and they all had very happy and healthy dogs, which I think is the surest measure of a society. They have this form of theatre called “Black Theatre,” that I’d heard was really clever, so I rushed right out and bought a ticket. It’s all performed in pitch darkness, with a blacklight pointed at the stage. People dressed in black move things around on the stage, but you can’t see anything, except these objects floating through the air. I knew while I was watching it that I was going to have a terrible time explaining it to anyone. It was very very cool. Prague was just generally very cool. I’d love to go back in the late spring sometime. It’d be nice to see the place in bloom, and with some color. Besides, it was cold!!
I got back from my holiday late this morning, and it was awesome! I’ll put up my journal of the trip when I can, as I get around to it. Weird coincidences, tho. I flew Air Egypt four times in the last week, and was in Bethlehem and Netanya, where there have been violence and terrorist bombings before and after. It didn’t seem dangerous at the time… Just sunny and gorgeous and exciting and fun!
My Holiday! (or What I Did On My Vacation)
(retrofitted and in-reverse)
October 23, 1999 - Busy day preparing for the trip, and a late night flight to Tel Aviv (arriving at 4:30am for deadly passport control)
October 24, 1999 - Tel Aviv at leisure (i.e. lounging and reading on the beach of the Mediterranean)
October 25, 1999 - Jaffa, the Diaspora Museum, more lounging in the sun
October 26, 1999 - Netanya, Caesaria, Akko, Nazareth, arriving at the Sea of Galilee after dark
October 27, 1999 - Church of the Beatitudes, Golan Heights, Capernaum, a gorgeous boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, and a long drive to the Dead Sea (but the night swim was worth it!)
October 28, 1999 - More swimming in the Dead Sea (more like flying than swimming, really), cable car up to Masada, Mount of Olives (awesome view of Jerusalem!), Bethlehem, and a beautiful night tour of Jerusalem
October 29, 1999 - Chagall’s windows at Hadassa, Holocaust Museum, Israel Museum (the Dead Sea Scrolls), Garden Tomb, Garden of Gethsemene, Shabbat starts, Jaffa gate and arab quarter
October 30, 1999 - Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock & El Aqsa Mosques, Via Dolorosa, Church of Holy Sepulchre, shopping in the arab quarter, Cardo Culinario (”the only Roman Judeo Kosher restaurant in the world”)
October 31, 1999 - Drive to Cairo (across the Sinai Peninsula, into Egypt (more passport control), and over the Suez Canal)
November 1, 1999 - Up at 4am to fly to Aswan (nightmare metal detection at the airport, since the Air Egypt flight had crashed in the US the day before!), High Dam, Aswan Dam, Unfinished Obelisk, felucca ride, boarded the cruise ship, boat to Philae and Temple of Isis, shopping
November 2, 1999 - Up at 5am to fly to Abu Simbel and the temples of Ramses II and Nefertari, ship sails to Kom Ombo for temple of Sobek and Hororis, then sails to Edfu for the night, and a costume party
November 3, 1999 - Temple of Edfu by horse-and-buggy first thing in the morning, then ship sails to Luxor (Thebes). Temple of Luxor at sunset
November 4, 1999 - Up at 5am for the Valley of the Kings (tombs of Ramses III, Sa-Ptah, Tutankhamon, and Thutmosis III), and The Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut (!!!). Then the Colossi of Memnon, and Karnak, dinner and back to Karnak for a sound and light show.
November 5, 1999 - Up at 5am to fly back to Cairo, Egyptian Museum of Antiquities (and the mummies!)
November 6, 1999 - Memphis and Sakkara in the morning (the “Ozymandius” statue of Ramses, and Zoser’s Step Pyramid, among other things), then off to Giza for the Pyramids and the Sphinx and a nifty camel ride in the desert
November 7, 1999 - Up at (ugh!) 4am for an 8am flight back to London. But I got off lucky, in a way, the others had to fly all the way to Canada and Australia…
I have a new flat, the project is going live today, and I’m finally going on my holiday! This flat is really nice. It’s big and quiet and cozy, which is a great switch from where I was living. The location’s great, even tho the commute is dreadful and there’s no parking… But the big news is that my holiday is finally here! I’m leaving for Tel Aviv tonight, and then it’s Galilee, the Dead Sea, Jerusalem, the Sinai Peninusula, Cairo, and a cruise down the Nile. Jealous? I would be if it wasn’t me… ;o) It’s been a really hard and stressful project, and I’ve never needed a holiday the way I do right now. Too bad I won’t get any real rest, with all the touring, but the trip will be awesome! It’ll be nice to get some sun, too. It’s been raining here for a week straight… I’m not bringing a computer (duh!) but I’ll take lots of notes, and loads of pictures, and update this when I get back in November.
Woohoo! I’m getting a new flat tomorrow! I’m so sick of where I’m living, and a friend of mine and I are going to find me a new home tomorrow afternoon. He’s really good at convincing estate agents to see my way of living (i.e. nomadic). I’d love to move back to Richmond, but I think I’d rather stay in town. Kensington or Chelsea, maybe. It’s nicer to be right in London, even if the commute is hell… Oh, and I booked my flight to Prague yesterday. The flight cost hardly anything, at go-fly.com (cheap advertising). I’m so excited I can hardly see straight. I mean, I have Egypt and Israel first, which will be incredible, and then Prague only a month later. Prague’s only for the weekend, but it’ll be brilliant. I wish I’d gotten there before the war, tho… Right, so I found myself in a (very rare) lull at work, and found myself wondering why I would be *pleasantly* surprised at this guestbook entry from an ex of a lifetime ago. I think I was momentarily confused by someone who would compliment me for no reason at all. He has nothing to gain from it, and what ulterior motive could he have from 4000 miles away? Silly, I guess, but compliments usually mean nothing to me, because I’m so tired of people wanting something from me. Incidentally, if you’re reading this, I always said you had a beautiful smile too, but you never believed *me* either. ;o)
My father came over to visit last weekend, which turned out pretty cool. We went to places that I kept saying I’d go back and see again, like the Natural History Museum and Avebury and Momo (my favorite restaurant in London). The Natural History Museum is really cool. They have a real Coelocanth, and an Archaeopteryx, too. There are only like six Archaeopteryx fossils in the world. This one isn’t as great as the one you always see in the magazines — you can’t really make out the head, but you can really see the feathers. It’s beautiful. Avebury was fun. I had a really strange experience last time I was there, and I finally got to prove to myself that I didn’t imagine it, because he saw it too…. I must have put 300 miles on the car on Saturday, most of it in the rain, but it was fun. I usually only drive to commute, so it was a blast.
Stephen and I went to see “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum” on Saturday night at Regent’s Park. It’s this theatre-in-the-park type thing, but it was nothing like I expected. It was really small and cozy. I expected to be sitting in a field, barely able to hear the actors, but it’s a little square stage with seats around it in a semicircle. The rows of seats are quite steep, so no one’s very far from the stage, and the the acoustics are wonderful. It’s mostly under a canopy of trees, so there’s no problem hearing anything. It was really nice. I expected it to be cool, but not that cool. The play itself was funny, and the singers were great, especially the guy who played Hero.
Yesterday, we went to the Notting Hill Carnival. I expected it to be rather like Mardi Gras, so of course it was nothing like it. There’s a predominantly Carribean theme, a lot of great music and dancing, and the costumes were gorgeous! I’ll put some pictures up when I get them developed. The music was much better then I remember it at Mardi Gras, in general, and they was no fire in this parade at all. There was always a lot of fire in New Orleans. The crowd wasn’t nearly as packed here, either. You could walk around without much trouble. The only time I’ve really spent in Notting Hill has been at Portobello, so it was really surreal to see it filled with thousands of revellers, instead of antiques. One of the floats was led by a troupe of people covered in black paint, and one of them shook my hand, and then painted black marks on my face, in a pattern. So I was quickly all black steaks up to my elbows, with warpaint. I don’t think the guys I was with thought that was nearly as cool as I did. I’m surrounded by vain people who want me to be something I’m not, as usual, but I had fun anyway. I’m never going to be a grown-up or a beauty queen or anyone else’s definition of cool, so they’ll just have to deal with the black paint instead. ;o)
We had dinner at this Thai place in Ealing that’s a cafe during the day. They didn’t have my favorite things, but the Thai waitstaff were all tickled that I knew what Drunken Noodles and Thai Iced Tea were. (No, they have neither in this country) They kept saying, “Did you live in Thailand? How do you know about these thing? They’re only in Thailand.” Even when I ordered the Kraprao chicken, they wanted to know how I knew how to pronounce it. Very weird. The owner said that Thai Iced Tea doesn’t sell here, because English people don’t like sweet drinks with dinner, but that he’d make Drunken Noodles for me next time, “when he’s drunken.” Silly.
I went on this awesome tour last Sunday. I wanted to go to Bath, but most of the town is closed on Sunday, so there wasn’t a tour. I found one that went to Salisbury, Old Sarum, Stonehenge, and Avebury. I’d been to Stonehenge, but liked it enough to go back. Besides, I really just needed to get out of London. Salisbury was ok — we only saw the Salisbury Cathedral, but it’s the tallest church spire in England (with a definite list to one side) and holds one of the original copies of the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta was the most interesting part, really. There was an English translation, and there’s some weird stuff in there! Mostly good, but weird. Like widows no longer being forced to remarry against their will. Then we went to Old Sarum, which is this incredibly old castle-fortress. The original settlement was built in 3000BC, and it changed hands and design for the next 4500 years. It has this enormous ditch around it, enclosing super-high earth walls, which enclosed the fortress. The view from the top of those walls is simply spectacular. I climbed up to the highest walkway, and was totally blown away at the view. The ruins of the castle are really cool and peaceful, but that view was my favorite thing. Next we went to Stonehenge. I’d been there before, but it’s still awe-inspiring. It’s so peculiar that it just sits there on the side of the A303, like a fruit stand. But when you’re in it, you completely forget that you’re anywhere near civilization. Avebury was the best, though. It’s a stone circle like Stonehenge, but it’s so enormous that there’s a village in the middle of it. And there’s procession route, lined with monoliths, leading up to it. There are two huge stones at the head of it, which lay in the dead center of the strongest ley line in the world, and the tour guide gave us dowsing rods to play with around those two stones. Very cool. The funny thing was, as we were driving into town, I glanced over my shoulder, and there was a crop circle on the hill behind us. A bloody crop circle. It was so pretty and isolated. So a few of us took our dowsing rods and hiked up into the field to the crop circle. It was really intricate, and I kept having to convince myself that I was really walking around in it. You know, you see things like that in dodgy magazines, and never believe they’re real, and suddenly you’re in one. Strange world.
I went to the States last weekend, just for a few days. It was hard to come back, but I’m already glad I did, somehow. I need to start travelling more. I’m going to go to Disneyworld Paris, but I also saw a sign the other day for return tickets to Prague for 100 pounds, so hopefully I’ll have a chance to do that too. And maybe Venice soon too. That’s what weekends are for, right? I’m just writing it down so I’ll convince myself to actually do it. I’m trying to save money to pay off all of my bills and buy a house, but I need to have fun too, dammit!
There was a solar eclipse here today. We were at 97% totality in London. I couldn’t get to Cornwall, but it rained there, anyway. It was awesome! The sun was just this tiny sliver, and the quality of the light was amazing. I went to see one in Mexico a few years ago, but I had forgotten about that strange light. Very cool.