2019 Life in London
Updated: Jan 5, 2020
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29 November, 2018 my flight out of Vancouver and the perilous journey to follow my "dreams" internationally begins. Dreams is a euphemism for a girl in this case.
Flying to London Heathrow airport on the prestigious Air Canada was not the most pleasant flight.
It started off great, no peanuts or complimentary champagne, instead I had an elbow in my ribs from my compatriot flying next to me and a screaming baby behind me - pure bliss! It got even better about half way through the flight. A gentlemen nearby decided he had enough of the baby's beautiful song and tried to keel over. Unfortunately for him there were some expert staff and 2 surgeons on board to make sure he made it to London. Propped up on fluids and with no diversion to Iceland we landed in London and he was taken away in an ambulance.
I didn't get an ambulance escort to sweep me away. Instead I was meeting up with the girl who I had been assigned to live with. Again, "assigned" is being used as a euphemism here, I'm dating her and so far she is letting me stick around.
We boarded my favourite train line in the world: The Piccadilly Line to COCKFOSTERS. If you ever make it to London and you don't take that fabled line you have sincerely missed out. There is a lady's voice who announces it at every stop, I can't relay to you strongly enough how hilarious it is.
Every. Single. Stop.
The next few weeks were filled with meeting new people, hosting Christmas parties while extremely jet lagged and doing my best not to alitenate any new friends with my charming personality.
Move to London: 6/10, flight could have been better.
Holiday Season without Family
The holiday season was to be spent away from home because I had obviously just moved to another continent and it was wayyyyyy too soon to be going back during the worst time of year to travel.
Instead the female compatriot and I stayed at home, ate cheesecake and drank wine. I highly recommend the experience, family is great but have you ever been day drunk while eating cheesecake with your hands? Otherworldly experience.
Christmas alone: 8/10 highly underrated experience.
All that joy was squashed in the new year as word that my 93 year old Oma (dutch version of Grandma) was close to passing away. We booked tickets to the Netherlands to go and visit but unfortunately we were going to be a week late to make it. She passed peacefully and the funeral was scheduled for the weekend that we were due to be in town. The girlfriend was due to follow along and meet all of my family, including family that even I hadn't met. Keeping in mind we had only been living together for 6 weeks this was the real test of how good looking I am. If she stuck it out through this it would prove I am indeed one handsome son of a....
My mother was there as well as it was her mom that passed away. It was great to see her and spend some time in Holland with her again. Highlight of the trip was eating AYCE sushi 2 nights in a row, no dutch Pancakes or cheese just lots of rice and fish.
Dutch people: 9/10
I Guessed it Rained Down in Africa
Next on the docket was a planned trip to Marrakesh in Morocco. Our trip was booked with a 24 hour layover in Madrid allowing us to spend a bit of time in Spain drinking wine and visiting the independent coffee shops that Madrid is famous for
First tip when heading to Morocco is being able to speak French or Arabic fluently because you are going to need it. The innocent "oh look I'm Canadian" doesn't work there - they couldn't care less. However, since they were colonized by the French back in the day most people speak French and bringing a girlfriend who speaks French fluently and can drive a hard bargain with the Taxi driver was incredibly helpful. We ended up spending 4 days in Marrakesh and in all honesty it wasn't the greatest experience and I'm going to take a break from the joking tone to tell you why
The old part of Marrakesh is one big tourist trap and there is still a huge population of impoverished people who live there because they have to and it creates an awkward dynamic between the "white" visitor and the locals.
Our idea was to explore and experience the culture around the city by walking but it felt extremely unsafe as soon as you left the main part or the "tourist" center.
The "excursions" or trips out of the city are littered with tourist traps. We took at trip into the mountains and besides being forced to watch old ladies slave over making oil we were also forced into a restaurant that obviously provided a kick back for the tour driver and overall the waterfalls weren't all that impressive.
All in all, not the greatest experience. The pictures you see on social media of people who have visited do not accurately reflect the situation that is still very apparent in the north of Africa.
2/10 will not be returning to Morocco.
On a lighter note, here's me looking hot by the pool
And Now en Francais - ooo lala
To the city of love we go. According to some bullshit statistic I pulled up - 92.6% of all children are conceived in France. That's probably not a joke you want to make with a girl you only just moved in with but I did it anyway. I'm a renegade who has no regard for consequences.
Back to the story - we were due to spend a weekend in Paris visiting some of the girlfriend's family. The beautiful time of year we chose to go was Spring-Brexit. The time of 2019 when the UK was supposed to leave the EU for the first time but they botched it so we got a second and a third go around.
Paris is a great city and I highly recommend for anyone to go there to just enjoy the smells, women and protesting. They throw a really good protest. The weekend that we were there the store front destroying protests were so "in". Besides that and our train back to London being cancelled resulting in us having to fly out at 7am after eating 2kg's worth of Cheese the night before, we had an amazing trip.
7/10 can recommend drinking wine from a nipple
I decided it was high time I left the girlfriend behind for once and took a trip with some friends. They weren't friends, they were sport colleagues and the sport was Ultimate Frisbee and the tournament was Tom's Tourney. Have I got your full attention yet?
Basically we ran around a bunch chasing some plastic all so we could sit around a bunch drinking Belgian beers. What an absolute blast. We ate some good food and enjoyed all that Bruges has to offer. Which isn't a whole lot its a tiny city and takes about an hour to fully walk around.
11/10 - Fucking love Bruges so much so that I don't have any pictures from the trip
Sausages for Part Time Vegetarians
Leaving the girlfriend at home for one trip was all that my heart could bear so I fixed to drag her out to our next frisbee tournament and get another sport colleague to drag his girlfriend along as well. Turns out both girlfriends are vegetarian and where we were headed was not very vegetarian friendly.
Vienna, Austria the home of multiple palaces, all kinds of different art, a weird version of German and lots and lots of sausages. Myself, I eat mostly vegetables at home because its easier than trying to force my girlfriend to eat meat (The number of sausage jokes I had to throw out here to keep this PC was way too high).
Turns out my sports colleague (featured in the picture) is in the same boat. So when we got to the home of the hot dog, the warehouse of the wiener, the birthplace of the bratworst we were in heaven, or so we thought. I highly recommend that you make sure your body is ready to ingest an absurd amount of animal protein after not having done so for a while. Although it was absolute heaven for the first few days the 2 days of playing in the frisbee tournament were not my favourite of all time. Sausages went in but that is not what came out.
Besides the sausages the one thing I can highly recommend about Austria is heading out to the Wachau valley to go and sample some very tasty adult juice. We did it on a bike tour and it was a ton of fun. Even though there was a family on the tour that had never ridden bikes before.
We didn't take any prisoners and left one of them behind at one of the wineries and never looked back.
9/10 - Sausages are always worth it
A Royal Tea Party
A very interesting experience as we were actually allowed in to the gardens of Buckingham palace to roam around as we pleased. Then we were invited to wait to watch the royals emerge from the palace and walk to their royal's tea tent and THEN we were encouraged to go join a massive queue to get some tea and biscuits. What a magical experience.
We got very close to Queeney herself and even got a glimpse of Harry. Sadly somewhere Megan was looking after the newborn so we didn't get a chance to see Rachel Zane in the flesh.
10/10 - Queen tea is much better than commoner tea.
My Family Still Loves Me
Summer was well under way and now it was my father who was making the journey to see me. Well not just me, he's from England and had to visit his real family so he was here for that but it seemed rude not to come and visit me as well. Stopping by for a couple of days in London before heading up North to visit family and friends we spent some quality time drinking beer, watching royal parades and reminiscing how much he regrets not buying property in London many years ago because it would have been worth a fortune now.
After that moment of regret passed it was time for him to head up North, I would follow a few days later to join him on a trip through Liverpool and up to the lovely Lake District and back to his hometown of Penrith. Fun fact about Penrith is there is a fudge shop that provides the Queen with her fudge. Another fun fact is an aunt of my dad's lives there still. She's ninety something and still lives alone. She is going a bit crazy but still good to have a chat with
New Job Who Dis
In June I was lucky enough to receive an offer to start a new job in London. I accepted and as part of the training I got sent up to Edinburgh, Scotland - different country, same union. Spending the prime part of July in a different city meant I had to make the most of it. So I signed up for Netflix and binge watched Breaking Bad, Peaky Blinders and another show that definitely wasn't porn. Since that plan only took up about 1.5 days I needed to get out and do something. The girlfriend was able to come up and join me for a weekend so we went on a road trip causing her to get car sick but allowed me to get an even sicker picture of the nature. Too bad my face got in the way.
Scotland has some amazing countryside and even nicer people. I spent a day in Glasgow and although I couldn't understand a word people said I was able to lock down 2 god fathers for my future children as well as 3 potential daughters as suitors if this current relationship doesn't work out. Again, I couldn't really understand what was being said but I'm pretty sure that was the gist.
8/10 - Its English but its hard to understand
The Machismo is Real
Since we enjoyed hanging out with family so much in Paris we figured it would be a great idea to do it again in Italy. This time, we would cause our own stress and wait until the final hour to book tickets so they cost a fortune and weren't the most convenient. Oh well, once we moved past that we were on our way to San Benedetto del Tronto. A small town on the East coast of Italy. Its a pain in the ass to get to especially when you don't buy train tickets ahead of time and have to ride the slow train with no air conditioning and old Italian men in speedos man spreading like its the black plague.
Spending a week in a small Italian town truly grants you an in depth look at what the Italian culture is like:
Men are Gods
Tomatoes are the only vegetable, even though they aren't even a vegetable
Dinner before 9pm is sacrilegious
They are very proud of Italian things
A huge street party includes 4 food trucks. I think that was just a small town problem but still funny.
Overall, an awesome week being treated like a God and hanging out in the sunshine.
8/10 would move there for the machismo
Montreal Learns to Drive
It had to happen eventually. I moved in with a girl - it was only a matter of time before I had to meet her father. I had met her mother earlier in the year when she came to visit and we got along great. That was the easy part though. Her mom is South African like me but her dad is Italian and had a bad habit of referring to me as the "Jehovah's Witness" on the phone.
As a result a trip back to Montreal where the girlfriend's family is from was next on the travel list. I had only flown through the Montreal airport and never actually stopped in the city so this was my first time stopping in Canada's French capital. We spent a lot of time getting over jet lag and visiting family and friends for the Jewish new year. That's one of the reasons for the nickname bestowed upon me as my name apparently is Biblical and thus I am a Witness. Like Italy I learned quite a few things while I was in Montreal and I also like lists so here's another one:
The term "Goy"
Montreal and New York City are the only cities in North America that you aren't allowed to turn right on a red light. Montreal because the drivers are terrible and New York City because there are too many pedestrians
Montreal drivers are terrible
As far as I know I made a good impression on the girlfriend's entire family and created a good bond with her father. Now, he only calls me "Joh".
9/10 - had to give it a high score, its my girlfriend's home town.
German Christmas Markets
The final trip of the year was to Munich, Germany to experience the most festive of things - warm wine and pretzels. After having experienced the Christmas markets in Hamburg 3 years ago I was excited to do it again now that I was so close to mainland Europe. I had managed to rope 3 other unsuspecting victims to join me on my adventure.
If you've stayed with me all this time you would have seen that we haven't had the best luck with actual travels this year and the fun didn't stop on our last journey. What was meant to be a 1.5 hour flight from London turned into one of the strangest travel experiences I've ever had.
Our flight on Lufthansa was due to leave London on Friday at 8:15pm. Initially it was delayed 30 mins, which is fine I've had flights delayed before no big deal. However, as we are at the bar waiting for the call to board our flight is further delayed until 9:30 and then again until 9:45. Annoying but not world changing, we begin boarding at 9:30 and finally begin our taxi to the runway at 10. Now, if you were following along closely you would notice that I mentioned the flight is 1.5 hours. Some other interesting information is that Munich airport has a curfew of midnight for all arriving flights. That means, it will not allow flights to land after midnight. You're probably thinking, "Oh 1.5 hours from London to Munich would put you there at 11:30 no problem". What you probably hadn't thought about was that 10pm in London is 11pm in Munich because of time zones. So, by the time we enter German airspace we have probably already missed the curfew. As a result, the pilot comes over the PA to announce this and inform us that we are now going to have to be diverted to Hannover, Germany. For those of you with a map handy, the 2 cities are not close. We now fly an additional 30 mins on top of our original 1.5 hours to finally land in Hannover at 1am local time.
Since this isn't New York City and this town actually sleeps there is no ground crew to help us get off the plane. So for almost 45 minutes we sit in the metal tube in the parking spot waiting. Finally we are rescued by some ground staff and forced into another lineup waiting to get through passport control. From there its a mad dash to the airport hotel to try and salvage a few hours of sleep because we have just been notified the flight will be heading to Munich in the morning at 6am.
Thankfully that all goes roughly to plan and we get to Munich having only slept for a total of 2.5 hours.
Our weekend ends up being a bunch of fun drinking warm Gluhwein, eating pretzels and getting a tour of the city from some locals.
Our flight back to London had no hiccups at all and it was great...I'm just kidding we almost didn't make it and were the last people to board the plane. It was one of the most stressful times of my life.
7/10 - Amazing city, terrible travel experience.
That's All Folks
Thus ends year 1 of adventures in London. I would be remiss if I didn't make some honourable mentions to people who were able to make it out to London and see me; I sincerely appreciate you and I won't put your names out on the internet because this isn't about you - its about me.
Check back again next year where I'm sure I'll totally forget to do this again and make it all up. Thanks for sticking around if you read this far. Now go do something productive with your life.