On the overnight bus from Glasgow to London, I meet a young English artist called Keanu. We share a bottle of wine and talk for a few hours about life and art before going to sleep. For once, I make it through the night, arriving groggy at London’s Victoria station. Since my flight is tonight, I don’t need a room. I spend the day around London, doing what catches my eye, drinking whatever I please, and eating what I feel like eating.
But first its early and I need coffee, now. I simply want some space to wake up and check my e-mails so I walk into a nearby Caffe Nero, England’s Italian-style coffee chain. I sip a cappuccino, eat a croissant, check my emails, and call a friend. We have a spirited conversation before it’s time for a walk and some lunch.
I take the opportunity to walk by some of England’s famous sites. Walking down the road of its namesake, I make it to Buckingham Palace. I simply walk up to it, take a look, capture a photo, and I’m gone. Needless to say this kind of stuff doesn’t impress me. I walk through the nearby park and watch the ducks. I prefer this peaceful moment to the scourge of tourists at the Palace. Then, continuing across the Thames, I do the same thing with Big Ben, and get bored quickly. I’ve decided that, since I am a homesick neighbor of Little Saigon, I need some pho–something you really can’t get in Ljubljana where I’m living.
I go for a place in the theatre district and order the bun bo hue, a personal favorite. A spicy beef broth is the perfect vehicle for thick rice noodles, beef, herbs, and chili, I wash it all down with a Vietnamese iced coffee, which is strong but sweetened with condensed milk. After my bowl of noodles, like a heat-seeking missile I see yet another cafe I want to try. That’s the beauty of London, you don’t need to know where you’re going to find something you want.
I walk around aimlessly, looking for nothing in particular. It is a pretty great feeling, I don’t have the nag of wanderlust and am content enjoying myself around the city. For dinner, it’s Indian. Something England is known for having because, ya know, imperialism. I choose Punjabi, a region of particularly great food. I order possibly the province’s most famous dish, butter chicken with plenty of garlic naan and beer. It is pure heaven, perhaps the best butter chicken I have ever had.
Then I walk to a tap room I eyed on the way here and take part in the English privilege of drinking in the street. Strolling through Soho, I take inventory of my drinking options.
I want to try The Dog and Duck, where Orwell and others used to hang out and drink, but it is simply too crowded for me and my backpack. I want to try the food next time anyhow.
So my last stop is Brew Dog, a Scottish brewery with a punk aesthetic. I drink beers and relax for my remaining hours. Soon I will take the train to the airport and fly back to Slovenia in the hours of the early morning.