September 18, 2011
Well, where to begin? I’ve been in London almost two days now, having arrived at around 2:00 p.m. on the 15th. My flight was fantastic — never before have I gotten an extra seat to myself on a transcontinental flight — and I was able to get enough sleep to not be totally comatose the first afternoon. Quite a good thing, that; lugging the entirety of your accumulated worldly possessions (in the form of two 50-pound suitcases) through the heart of London is not a task for the faint of heart. Initially I was going to take the Piccadilly Line somewhere, transfer to the Jubilee Line, and then get off at my destination station. Instead, with Jubilee Line closed south of Baker Street Station, I had to transfer to another line and then on to Jubilee, finally arriving at my terminating station at around 5:15 p.m. Even Baker Street was closed for a few minutes, throwing me into quite a state of confusion, given Baker Street was where I was told to go at the first closed station. A few minutes and some frantic pacing later, however, the Jubilee Line opened and I was on my way.
I have fairly mixed feelings about the hostel I’m staying at — on one hand, the area around it is fairly nice and there a quite a few really decent pubs within walking distance. Food and whatnot seems a bit cheaper in Brent than it does in Islington, and there’s a ton of interesting foreign food close to Kilburn Station. One of the interesting places is the Westbury, where I spent a bunch of time last night (more on that later). Other than that, the hostel’s pretty unremarkable. I’m in the first room by the entrance, which means there’s a constant flux of noise coming from the heavily-hinged doors slamming after people enter (not to mention the assholes who decided it’d be a great idea to have a long, loud conversation outside my door at 7 a.m. today). Combining that with semi-functional Internet, in addition to the fact it’s about 45 minutes from where I’m studying, means I’ll probably try to find somewhere else once my stay ends this coming Wednesday.
Hostel griping aside, I’m having a pretty decent time so far. On my first night, I went to a pub and used their free wifi to do some work and send some emails, can’t remember the name at the moment but will update this post once I do (It’s one door down from the Westbury, at any rate). Quite a nice pub, with decent prices and friendly staff. Last night, however, I decided I wanted to listen to some live music before school starts and I’m too busy to do anything interesting. While I initially planned on checking out the legendary Fabric, I figured going to an after-hours club a 45-minute night bus away from where I’m staying was a bad idea, what with real estate appointments at 11 in the morning. As such, I started to look for places within walking distance.
One of such places was the Westbury, what seems like an old pub turned into a pretty trendy club. Not much for beer — the bottled fair is limited to a fairly mediocre selection of import beers that includes Sol, Heineken and a few others. Moreover, it’s certainly a place to drink cocktails — while I limited myself to Gin and Tonics, it seemed like they make a decent Mojito, with lots of mint leaves. Divided into a main area with a dance floor and a quieter antechamber containing another smaller bar, the place was moderately busy when I arrived around 10:30 and was packed when I left around 1:30. Although I was really hoping for some drum’n’bass or dubstep, the DJs were decidedly competent and had the crowd moving the entire time with a combination of hip-hop and r&b, with the occasional foray into house. It was certainly bustling, with a nice mixture of people. A single Gin and Tonic set me back £4.30, with the bottled beer somewhere around £3.90; from my reading, that’s pretty typical pricing for the London club scene.
Anyhoo, more later.