British Museum

I was astonished when I first found myself inside the beautiful British Museum in London. The hall, and especially the ceiling, is truly impressive.

Sorry all the pictures have a bit of an orangish hue but it was already dark outside so I didn’t catch the natural light. Next time 🙂

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Advantages of returning home from London

I am sure anyone who’s ever moved out of a big city to live in a small town must have experienced some kind of a cultural shock. My home town Bratislava is a capital so it is by no means a village, but let’s face it: once you’ve lived in London any average sized city seems too small to you. It’s not like I lived there for so long that I’ve nearly fogotten how it feels like at home, but still it was enough time for me to get used to it. Now that I’m home I’m beginning to see how living there has changed me.

There are so many people and things that I miss about London but I’m beginning to realise there are also many great things about home. Things I may have not appreciated before as much as I do now. So I made a list of 8 major advantages of returning home from London (though I know it’s highly subjective):

  1. I don’t need a map to travel around the city. Goodbye CityMapper, Google Maps, Tube maps (wait! we’ve got no tube)… AND what’s more – it doesn’t take me ages to get from my house to wherever I need to go. Actually, it takes me 15-20 minutes on average to get everywhere. In London? Feels like I wasted my whole youth commuting.
  2. I realised I’ve become so patient that nothing really bothers me anymore. Long queues? Waiting for the bus? No problem! Anyone who’s survived changing at Victoria, Bank or Oxford Circus tube stations on a regular basis should be nominated for a patience award!
  3. Public transport fares are so cheap. When I used a bus for the first time after moving back home and was reminded of the price – 70 cents for a bus ticket – I was like: My treat today fellow people on the bus – tickets for everybody!
  4. Going out is so cheap! You can actually go out on Friday night and can afford to eat the following weekend. Beer for a quid, a shot for a couple of cents more. Enough said.
  5. I suddenly realised I can’t remember how my umbrella looks like. Not that it doesn’t ever rain down here, only I don’t wear an umbrella as a part of my everyday attire.
  6. This city is missing something….. oh yeah, tourists! “I really miss the tourists”: Said no one who moved out of London ever.
  7. I’m suddenly meeting people on the streets by coincidence. And quite often. That thing could never happen to me in London.
  8. Bread is so delicious! So is wine and beer. I’ve just never grown to be fond of bread sold in British supermarkets – which is actually not a real bread to me. It’s just something to make a toast with. When it comes to wine and beer I remain a patriot too 🙂

It’s the little things…

Those goodbyes

I really hate goodbyes. But who loves them, right?

Yesterday I went to see the last Hobbit movie – the Battle of the Five Armies. Not only I cried throughout the whole last hour, but by the time the credits were over and the movie screen turned black, an intense feeling of sadness got me: this is it, it’s over. All of the LOTR and the Hobbit movies are finished and there is nothing to look forward to! Oh, but there is – like my friend Tina suggested – the movie marathon challenge, which means watching all six movies in extended versions on DVDs, which means spending approximately 24 hours in the Middle Earth. Yay! I’m totally up for it – where’s my sword?

Unfortunately, the fantastic world created by Tolkien was not the only thing I had to say goodbye to lately. The events of my real life took an unexpected twist in the plot and I had to leave London, leaving behind a year and a half of my life in England. I met many great people during my time here and I know I should be grateful for that, but getting to know them only to have to leave them behind makes me feel blue. These encounters were incredibly inspirational and life-changing for me and it got me thinking how every single decision you make changes you and your life completely. If you think about it, life is like a domino game – you make a move and the whole row of dominoes falls down. You make a decision and it sets everything in motion.

I was accepted to two other universities apart from Southampton – Norwich and Aberdeen – and am sometimes picturing how my life would’ve turned out if I went there. It’s impossible though, because I don’t know what could’ve happened, what kind of people I could have met. I only know if I didn’t go to Southampton I would’ve never known Dixie, a genuine, artistic and sensitive girl, whose purity of feelings makes me wonder whether this world has not become way too rotten for dreamers to survive; Lukas, whom I laughed loads with and bitched about all sorts of things with, things many people around us could not understand; Carmelo, funny and loyal man of his word, who breaks all stereotypes about Italians; or Ewa, a righteous and helpful girl with a pure soul. And maybe I would’ve never ended up renting a room in the house in Streatham and would’ve never met Chris, a male version of me, who inspired me more than he might realise; Tom, whose positivity and lust for life radiates on miles; Jonny, a lovely, funny and kind person, whose smile and laugh makes you love him straight away; and Cassey, a handsome guy, whose charming sense of humour made you always wonder whether he’s mocking you, is serious or just makes an innocent remark.

All these people were my housemates, the people who I shared home with, which is one of the reasons why they’d become so important to me. Of course if I went to uni elsewhere, I would have met different people (maybe equally great) but I wouldn’t be the person I am now because all of these friends left trace on me, shaped me in a way.

Sometimes it even feels unfair – why does life give you all these amazing people only to take them away from you again. I guess because there is no pleasure without pain.

And why did these goodbyes have to hurt so much? Because it was REAL.

Leaving home for home

I write today’s post in a rather unusual place – under water. To be precise, under water of the La Manche channel, commonly known in Britain as the English Channel, though we all know that geographically it’s no more English than it is French. Yes, I’m in the Eurotunnel. And believe me you can hardly find a better place to think and write than in the futuristic, claustrophobic tube connecting Britain with the continental Europe.

My being in the Eurotunnel means that today was my last day in London this year. I’m going home for an indefinite period of time. Leaving London sucks enough as it is, but to make it suck even more I chose to go by coach. I must have been fairly out of my mind booking this ticket, but it is what it is and I’ve got a nice 24 hour journey ahead of me. So far it is not as dreadful as I had imagined it. I’ve got two seats for myself, the person who was supposed to sit next to me either didn’t make it or will get on later, we’ll see. Weird thing is that all the people on the bus are either Slovakians or Czechs so it suddenly feels like home. Wait, but I am home. I am just leaving one home for another.

What I hate and love at once about buses, trains, or planes is that even if you don’t want to you can’t help overhearing people’s conversations. I say hate and love because it highly depends on what the talk is about. At times I am happy I could overhear something interesting or inspirational, but sometimes I wish I was deaf instead. For example from where I sit now, I can hear a girl in front of me gossiping very loudly with someone on the phone, her language is not what you could call lady-like and her giggling is starting to drive me crazy and behind me there are two girls talking about how they hate London and how people are much nicer up North. What made them think that I don’t know, but I can’t disagree more. London has been kind to me, so has Southampton and every other city or town I have visited down here. People here are exactly the same as everywhere else: kind, grumpy, lovely, nasty, beautiful, ugly… the mixture of all sorts of tempers and traits. It is true, that not the sights but the people shape your opinion of the place. When you’re alone you could be in the fanciest of the places, but it will never feel right. And when you‘re not lucky and you meet assholes all the time of course you will never love the city you live in. If the same rule applies to coach journeys, and the people shape your positive or negative feeling of it, you might guess what the outcome is for me today.

As for London however, I’m leaving with the best of feelings. Too good I would say. If it were otherwise, leaving would be a lot easier. I knew it’s going be hard, just like nothing worthwhile in life is easy. You find yourself in a beautiful place but there comes a time when you have to leave. You meet amazing people but one day you or them are gone and they become a memory. You try to repeat what was so good in the past, but you realise those things are not coming back. Things, people, places, everything is changing in a cycle of life. Change is necessary, inevitable.

Now all I can hear is rumbling of wheels taking me away and it breaks my heart. And I am thinking how amazing it is that one moment you are in this big strange city with nothing more than your suitcase and a few moments later you find yourself at home.

See you soon London, this is no farewell.

City lights

Every city looks special with the night fall, giving out a whole different feeling of the place. London by night is amazing. Thousands of city lights contrasting with the emptiness of the dark sky is a beautiful thing to watch. It is sad at the same time too – you can’t see the stars. They were replaced by light bulbs.

The other day when I was walking down the South Bank I was imagining what if all the stars just burst and fell down setting all the bulbs alight. They wouldn’t be called city lights then, but the city stars. As an incurable daydreamer, I’d rather keep thinking that instead of the fact that the lamps are actually killing the starlight. What an atrocity.

That day by the Thames I realised how much I’ve grown to be fond of London. At first the city was nothing but the noise, chaos, and confusion for me but now I see it differently. I see the beauty in its diversity. The diversity that can offer you a lot if only you don’t allow yourself to be intimidated by it, if only you reach and grab it. I learned to hear music instead of noise, feel joy instead of pleasure, see the soul instead of gold, appreciate creative work instead of business and live by passion instead of foolery. Thank you Hermann Hesse for the last sentence (I got inspired by one of his quotes).

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Sunday stroll in Notting Hill

Given my previous post was a confession of me being a night owl, today was a rather special day: I got up at 8 am. The reason for this abnormality is that one of my closest friends Tina came to London this weekend to pay me a visit and made my whole weekend special ! 🙂

We were kind of a peculiar party: me, Tina and her dad. To me though, this isn’t strange at all, as I’ve known Tina for almost 13 years now and I get on well with both of her parents, just as she does with mine. Her dad is 60 years old, but he definitely isn’t your usual old man, unless you picture an easygoing and witty guy (what a compliment, I hope he gets to see it!). So the three of us went on a long stroll around London, the first stop being the Portobello Market, Notting Hill.

Out of all the markets I have visited in London, Portobello is my absolute favourite. You can literally buy anything here: from things you really do need (or at least you think you do) to completely useless bric-a-brac kinda stuff you utterly fell in love with and can no longer live without (or at least you think you can’t). You can clothe, feed, entertain yourself there, furnish your house and do your weekly grocery shopping – all in one place – on one street with its unique cozy atmosphere.

You can tell tourists from locals apart very easily too, not only the locals do not usually carry their cameras and rummage through the stuff for ages, they normally go there with an actual vision of what they’re going to buy. Unlike the tourists, who instead have absolutely no idea what would be the best item to bring home as a souvenir so they end up making themselves believe that a vintage compass, magnifying glass or a pocket watch might be the right choice. The less inventive ones can always stick with the Portobello Road metal street sign 🙂

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When I woke up in the morning it was raining, which not only made me want to jump back to bed but also thinking this day was lost. London, however, was kind to me – the minute I stepped out of the house the rain stopped. Otherwise, the three of us – all passionate self-appointed photographers, who took this beautiful day as a photo hunt – would not rate the day with the top marks. And yeah, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with the fish eye pics 😉

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It had been a day full of beautiful colours, objects and people to shoot. The light conditions were perfect most of the day so the shots did not even need much editing. And some really nice pics I took! My beautiful friend Tina became my photo target for quite a while. And she just fits great to the bright lights of the day 🙂

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The next two pictures are almost identical – only by my second attempt to pose with the smile No. 2 for a change I was photobombed by this funny, slightly intoxicated young lad. But I wouldn’t dare say he ruined my picture, our hats go pretty well together, don’t they? 🙂

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There’s nothing like Notting Hill if you are lucky with the weather just like we were. And if you are equally lucky to have such good companions like I had be sure you go and spend a day in this picturesque and lovely spot on the map of London. You won’t regret. xxx