The meet? Seven days of fun for me. I can honestly say that the majority of you missed out by not being there for the full week. Not that you were invited, but still, you missed out.
My day started the earliest of the three of us. I got up at 6AM (local time), was on my first train at 7AM (local time), at the airport around 8:30AM (local time) and departed at 10:20 (local time) with the oddity of arriving at 10:45 (British time). After that, of course, there was still plenty of stuff to do on the airport and travelling to the station, meaning that it was until after noon before I met up with James and Mike on Paddington.
You'd think we'd stand out, but finding each other on the station was problematic as well. At least I didn't think either of them had suddenly turned into females.
The hotel was a short walk away from the station, one that was lengthened by James being unwilling to listen to our suggestions that we may be walking down the wrong side of the road. Note that this became a common theme during the week - this Dutch guy generally knew his way around London better than our fake Londoner. And Mike - that was only one street where I went wrong, and it was the last day, when I was tired. Exiting that tube station was closer to a running joke, you could have known that in the end.
So yeah, the hotel room was better than we expect. We had planned on a double bed and a single bed, which meant sharing (something we didn't mind all that much), but it turned out that, to the relief of James, there was an extra single bed to use. For obvious reasons, I claimed the double bed, which turned out to be an enjoyable choice.
After that we went for a stroll around London. I won't reveal the details of this journey, so we can make some profit from the tours we can sell from it. Still, there are a few 'highlights'. Pizza at Leicester Square was a common start (two slices, for me the Supreme version, with coke) that you'll hear more of during the week. There's also scouting Green Park, our meet location, beforehand, where we made photos of the meet locations that we, ehmm, never actually showed to anyone attending. Yeah. That felt foolish. There was also some great mansion of some weird woman... some sort of a queen or something, despite it not being painted a bright pink. I thought she didn't want to show that she was a queen, but she apparently did have a huge house, almost a palace-like.
You'd almost think she thought she was the Queen of some place, as in the head of state, but it's quite obvious that the Dutch queen is superior in several ways. I told James this as well, but he wasn't convinced, even if he didn't have any arguments in favour of his position.We had Burger King for what I call dinner, but James and Mike were more fond of calling tea or supper, after which we decided to do a bit of relaxing on the room (a common occurence this week as it was hot and we did a lot of walking). The evening was as enjoyable, as we went to what is the most traditional pub for PKMN.NET activities by now - The Rocket. Don't figure out where it is - it's busy enough there as it is. Also, I'm not sure whether I should feel good about mentioning those things here anyway. Tough on them. So we got some things to drink and played a few games on the Quiz Machine (where I believe we actually came out ahead on) and had a good time before we headed back home to the hotel room. After some more recording (Why did you take so long with the camera, James) we slowly decided to get some sleep.
Another fun day, which started by us waking up at 9AM. Why is it that you always get up earlier when you're on holiday? It was still 10AM to my body, but even then...Thursday was probably the most cultured day. We went for the National Gallery, which was too cultured for those, say, in the vicinity of Manchester. Weird, that. I liked the famous and less famous works of art, and it was all interesting to see. We also did some site work from there, which was as interesting. (The live blog not working for a bit? That was diagnosed there.)
We went to the British Museum for a short while, but solely to buy tickets for the Hadrian exhibit, and decided to actually explore the Museum the next day when we could also get to the aforementioned exhibit.
Instead, around this time we went to get tickets for our first musical of the week. Unfortunately, it was not Mamma Mia (blame James), but instead turned into Avenue Q. Our opinion of that will follow a few paragraphs away.
Where we spend a bit more time was the Victoria and Albert. A relatively large amount of time was spend here, compared to the previous museum, as can be inferred from the amount of pictures and videos. There were lots of interesting things to look at, such as cows with their brains coming out, bedrooms, desks, paintings, chairs and more desks. It was more fascinating than it sounds.
Mike's butterfly hatred has been discussed elsewhere, but that trip happened around this time as well, after looking through part of the Natural History Museum. Mike, I told you this, but next time, if you want to keep your fears secret, don't say a word to anyone.
We may have done some more walking on this day as well, such as in the Westminster area. All the walking stuff is a bit more blurred for me.
After all this we went back to the hotel, and after resting our feet a bit Mike and I changed into a slightly more snappy short-sleeved shirt, to seem a bit more sophisticated while we went to the theatre. James didn't bother, as he hadn't brought anything with him, but by now, that was no surprise. After also getting some food, we went to the theatre to see Avenue Q.
This wasn't, by the way, as easy as some might think. James told us he knew the way, and despite Mike having pointed out the appropriate building, we still took the longer way because James was the obvious Londoner. Right...
Still, we made it there in time, which is obviously a good thing, and so were treated with a cryptic semi-map of 'Avenue Q'. Mike and I chatted more about musical theatre, some roles we had, speaking foreign languages, and lots more stuff that I need not mention here while waiting for the show to start, while James looked around rather bored and uninterested. He maintained he'd hate the whole experience, which was a bad start for him.
We watched the show. We enjoyed it a lot, so much that we (Mike and I) got the soundtrack during the intermission. If you hear us singing or quoting songs, that's why.
Brief review time - what made Avenue Q this good? First of all, despite our recommendations, we do need to give you a content warning here. Our youngest readers are likely not able to appreciate all the jokes, or their parents may not like them hearing such jokes. Bear that in mind.
Avenue Q relies heavily on the use of puppets, reminiscent in style of Sesame Street or the Muppets. However, these won't help you learn how to count. Instead, there's a lot of good songs about, say, racism and the uses of the internet, in a way that you won't understand just from those descriptions. There's also good performances, in particular the puppeteers who manage to combine, through those puppets, three or four roles, which becomes better once you see two of those puppets, voiced by the same performer (but with another puppeteer for the puppet), talk and sing to each other.
Worthwhile to go to, but probably a 16+ musical, so keep that in mind.
And so Friday arrived, a day filled with plans made earlier. We got up a bit later than before and after the general waking up let's get ready to go out stuff, we went to the British Museum. We had tickets to the exhibition for 1PM, but arrived around 11, so needed something else to do in the mean time. This something else consisted of walking around the museum in the Greek, Roman and after a while Japanese sections. When we got bored of that we went to a nearby sandwich place to get ourselves something to eat before it was time to go to the exhibition.
For those who enjoy their classical history, this is fascinating to visit. There's a lot to learn and see, about stuff you don't read about often. And one of the most wonderful things about museums is that it's more real than the pictures in a book.
After this, we went on to one of the BBC buildings (I couldn't remember all the names, someone else can tell you) to get a tour of the BBC facilities. It wasn't Dutch TV, but it was still interesting to hear and see how things work there.
After that (you guessed it) we went back to the hotel room, rested, and got ready for the evening. We went - oh yeah - to the pub again, where we'd agreed to meet up with Barney and Sam. More teasing of James occurred when James wanted to be there in time, if not early, while Barney and Sam (due to apparent traffic circumstances) arrived an hour late. Or on time with James not being sure of the time, we haven't figured that out yet.
Still, we went to the Rocket, did fun stuff there, tried the quiz machine again, more fun stuff, switched pubs due to the noise level (I felt I got deaf there after a while) to one whose name I can't remember, and in the end went back to the hotel on one of the last underground lines.
Meet time. Yeah. I'm sure others will have described a lot of this by now, and with more events, but I can at least give my own impressions.
We left early, to get to Victoria in time to pick up Rex and friends. Rex arrived late, so that didn't work out, but we met up with what was dubbed the 'Tim group', which included other people who they met up with together. After a lot of needless standing around (people needed to buy stuff that I can't remember) we decided to get to Green Park early, to meet up with people and enjoy some sun.
Not that I managed to get that, as I had to run off back to Victoria station to pick up Rex's group, where happily enough Rob at least came along to keep me company. I realise I wasn't talkative during that journey - my apologies, but I wanted to rejoin the group.
I got a bit more time to chat with the group when I returned, but even that didn't last, as I agreed to pick up Regyba (whose real name I still cannot remember - sorry!) together with Mike, who was waiting at the entrance to the park. This is where Mike had to concede I had better powers of observation. Still, we made our way back to the group and somehow managed to fill several hours with talking, trading and other things. We had a few speeches during which announcements have been made that you can't see because we forgot to record them, and aside from giving away special event items and Poketch applications that Nintendo normally gives out, as well as three very special Pokemon that are only given out by us. Too bad that you weren't there and haven't got them now...
We went to Leicester Square after that, as explained elsewhere. I had the fortune of going there on the tube instead of walking, to help out members who needed it. It went quite well, there, and I had a lot of walking ahead of me.
There was more chatting and talking there, as well as food. It's been called lunch elsewhere, but to me it was more of a combination of lunch and dinner (or supper, or whatever), considering the time. (I don't remember the eating of any foodstuffs after that either, until after we returned from the meet).
This is where, as some people noticed, it began to break down for me a bit. People had to get their trains and had to get moving, but not all of them were where we could get them to that place, and I had to make a lot of phonecalls to make sure everyone got to the right place, having already send James first and then Mike to get people to their stations. This ended up as people seeing me very angry (scary, as some have described it) and needing to calm down. As I said back then, I needed a drink. When everyone was moving in the right direction, the larger group went with me, Barney and some others first to Piccadilly Circus to pick some that were lost and then to what I only know as the 'Shakespeare pub'.
The meet had ended by this time and we had gotten into afterparty time, with a more select group. Getting to the pub was quite an adventure - a twenty minute walk took over an hour, involving at least three phonecalls that were supposed to be with one person, but where others shouted through, making it too difficult for me to keep up - which is why I basically told people to call back when it was more quiet. And yes, I'm pretty sure there was more than one person involved in that conversation on the phone, unless people were just talking to a fictional other person.
Ah well, we arrived, and luckily something to drink was present. My annoyed mind needed it. Things calmed down, we chatted a lot more with a number of people, had a good time, moved pubs, had more of a good time, and eventually went on our way to get Katy, James' friend, on her way home. We decided to not go back, as Mike and I were exhausted and such. We made our way back to the hotel, where we got some food on the way, and had some comfy admin-to-admin time.
And soon, Sunday arrived. As this was James' last day, we slowly went to see him off. First, however, we had lunch at the Rocket, where both Mike and I enjoyed a huge burger (larger than we expected) while James had... fries. He's boring that way. We went to the station after that to say goodbye for the last time and drop him off.
Although we were both pretty tired by now, both Mike and I decided to enjoy ourselves for a while longer. It was about 1PM by now and we decided to go to the Science Museum. We spent some time there to look at all sorts of interesting exhbitions. We left after a number of hours because we were tired and wanted a break. We went back to our hotel room and, in the end, stayed there for quite a while, leaving a few times to get some food, but otherwise spending our time by discussing a lot of things. All of them being none of your business.
This was a busier day. It was also a rather complicated day in terms of what happened when. We did some shopping, which was fun. We did some ticket-buying, which was necessary for the evening. We finished our tour of the Science Museum, which felt a bit less exhausting, and gave us the chance to get a few more souvenirs. All rather fun when taken together.
The large big activity we had was the evening's visit of Wicked. A very good musical, more a classical musical than Avenue Q. Lots of spectacle, however, lots of cool special effects, good songs and a great story. A wonderful visit, and in the end it was worth it. It does help if you know the Wizard of Oz's story, as there are obviously lots of references to it. An enjoyable evening, and it even ended with the bit of rain we needed to cool down.
The last day. This was packing and an emotional goodbye between Mike and me. Obviously I did more travelling, but I was too exhausted to think of it. It's not that interesting for you anyway.
Last, a few thanks. Mike, we've spend all of this time together, and as you know, it was hugely enjoyable and something we needed. Thanks for being there. James, it's been shorter, but thank you as well for trying to lead us around London and entertain us, even if we needed to reverse the roles occasionally. Thanks to the travelguide, whose throwing legacy will not be soon forgotten. Last, thanks for everyone who made it there on Saturday. It was tiring and stressful for me, but in the end it was enjoyable, and at least everyone else had a good time. See you all again next year!
Page written by Joeno.
Digg this! | del.icio.us | Reddit | Stumble Upon | Facebook