Wednesday, August 18th, 2004: London, England
Porec to Trieste Airport, Italy: 110 kilometres
The last three days have been mostly about working on our tans and for those “naturists” who care, working on losing our tan lines. We have settled into a fairly standard routine, buffet breakfast over by ten, chores/writing/sightseeing by noon or 2 and onto the rocky beaches of the resort until 4ish, at which time we head over to our usual spot at the “Beach Bar”, watch the sun start its descent and sip a couple of beers. We have an excellent vantage point from our seats of the comings and goings of the resort and as always there is the natural discussion of the many different types of people staying here and what he or she is wearing (or not), what their relationships are, first date or perhaps in some cases, blind date. These playful discussions take place at whatever resort we have stayed in. Whether in the Bali Agung Village in Seminyak, The Lake Palace Hotel in Udaipur or the many and varied campgrounds in Australia, we always try and figure out who’s who at the places we are staying. We are up by eight this morning and finish packing for our trip to London. We have repacked the big bags and will leave as much as we can behind in the car. Breakfast is dispatched quickly, and we check out and are on the road by 9:55, heading north to the borders, first the Slovenian, and then the Italian, just 14 kilometres beyond the Slovenian.
We have cheap tickets to London Stansted on Ryanair and we plan to meet our friend Neil there. He and Robert, a friend from New York, happen to be flying in from a birthday weekend in Copenhagen, and we plan to take the train into town together. He has graciously offered to put us up for our 5 days in London. It is an effortless trip until we arrive at immigration. John breezes through, and the standard six month stay is stamped in his passport. I, however, am questioned at length about our trip, the whys and wherefores, am I working in any of these countries, how I can afford to take such a trip, how much money I have. The list of questions is endless. After a ten minute consultation with her supervisor, the immigration officer tells me that she will not allow me to stay in the UK beyond the day I have told her we are leaving, and goes out of her way to tell me that I must leave the country at that time and that I CANNOT engage in any work during my time in London. Of course I agree and tell her that I am not planning to do any work during my time here and begin to get a little testy. John comes to my rescue and I get the 5 day stamp and we are on our way.
Next Stop: Angel Station
The Stansted Express gets us into Liverpool station and from there it is a quick cab ride to Neil’s house near the Angel tube station in Islington. It is a lovely, gentrified area, the row houses dating from the 1850’s. It is the London of my imagination, and Neil’s house is the epitome of that dream. There is also a lovely private tiered garden where you can sit and enjoy the green and watch the birds swoop around the clay chimney pots at the top of the house.
Our bags are quickly unloaded and we have a class of Champagne to belatedly celebrate Neil’s birthday and then we head out to grab some food and some Soho ambiance catching up on the gossip over a crowded, noisy bottle of red wine in one of that neighbourhood’s many bars.