a Cheap Holiday

Cheap Holiday

Welcome to a cheap holiday in my life. At least you get to go home at the end of the day!

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Rubber Ball trip, Days 3 and 4 (events originally occured on Oct. 3 and 4): After a bite of dinner, Kali and returned to our twee hotel room for a bit of rest. Along about 9pm, Liebling and The Mountie were due at the apartment The Mountie's parents keep at the Barbican Centre in north London. After a brief conversation, I discovered that I had been invited to crash for free at The Mountie's apartment! This was a welcome boon, saving me over $300 U.S. I quickly ran to the front desk to cancel the rest of my reservation.

The next morning we braved that institution of London hotels, the "complimentary English breakfast." This is not as appealing as it might appear at first blush. The classic English breakfast is toast, baked beans, a grilled tomato, maybe fried sausage, and tea or coffee. This can pose a bit of a problem for poor Kali, the vegetarian, should the breakfast only be toast and sausage. This morning, a cook comes out to ask how we would like our eggs, which is a pleasant surprise.

After breakfast, we quickly pack, pay the hotel bill, and haul our luggage out to the sidewalk to hail a cab for the Barbican Centre. The Barbican Centre in north London is a complex that mixes school spaces (there is a girls' school and a music school on-site), performing art complexes, and residential complexes. Though the residential areas are pretty utilitarian by American standards, having all of the other amenities and landscaped grounds provides a very urbane, cosmopolitan feel. Also, the flat is only 3 blocks from the Barbican Exposition Centre, which will prove invaluable for Kali and Liebling during the course of the weekend.

Following our joyful reunion at the flat, we set out to locate a photocopy service that could reproduce a quantity of detail sheets for Kali and Liebling's company, who displayed wares at the Expo. This takes several hours (apparently Kinko's doesn't have a corporate foothold in the UK yet) and diverts us through several local neighborhoods. Perhaps the greatest danger to many tourists in London is knowing which direction to look for traffic before stepping off the curb. In fact, this has historically been such a fatal problem that now at intersections the words "LOOK LEFT" or "LOOK RIGHT" are painted right on the street. While this sounds paternalistic on paper, in practice, it proved invaluable, especially after drinking a few pints of the local cider. God love the limeys for watching out for us!

Once the business of the day is completed, we retire to the flat for a civilized cocktail hour, followed by preparation for dinner. The restaurant we have reservations at is highlighted by French-style service and a lovely selection of vegetarian menu items. We are joined at dinner by Herr Professor and Cowboy, leading members of the Texas Latex Party. They are fine dinner companions: witty, intelligent, genteel, and entirely appreciative of the little show of corset-tightening that Kali and Liebling put on at the table towards the end of dinner.

As the waitress is presenting the dessert and port menus, in storms the giant-Texas-transvestite, Cindy. Cindy is rather typical of transvestites that I have known. Contrasted by drag queens or transsexuals, the average transvestite is not always concerned as to whether she "passes" as a woman or not. She just likes wearing the wigs, and makeup, and shoes! However, Cindy betrays her genetic origin by expressing her boredom at watching a local custom shoe maker actually create his shoes--as the "bio-girls" at the table squirm with delight at the thought!


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