One day travel, 6 hours waiting in Copenhagen Lufhavn and 15 minutes anger management next to the ladies from the airport check-in. They have never seen such a curious thing like a Romanian ID card. They check it like a passport. Does not work, keep on smiling. They check it as credit card. Does not work, less smile. Dumb question: Excuse me, do you have a birthday? Seriously? No panic. I do, I show her, she goes on and pays about 2 calls, asks 2 colleagues and unites with one of them, the one from my friends (Diana) check-in desk. Should I look behind? Anxious faces and impacient people. Keep on smiling. The lady comes back with my ID and asks for other identification cards, after showing around 3, I get it. My face is not relevant either. People change in 10 years. (To do when going back to Romania: change ID card!) While at the other desk, my friend is having issues with the international code for Romania: Is is RO or ROM? It was written, ROU. Yeeey. The ladies can read after all. And we’re off. Funny story, right?
Finally arriving in London and getting rid of the one hand-luggage at EasyJet, the awkard guy next to you drinking a cocktail of brandy and energy drink while playing Fifa on his Iphone or the weird guy the friend you’re travelling with is talking to. She tries not to get upsed after he made all Romanians gypsies (the politically correct word being Romani) and assuring her that she could never be confused with one of them as she is too white. Well, at least Romania got rid of a possible tourist as his belief was that people get killed in the street there, get beaten by everyone, robbed and so on. I wonder how we got stuck with this image when in the USA, Brazil and Spain are more Romani than in Romania. I guess stereotypes are stronger.
We walk on smiling, my friend waiting for me as, again, problems with my ID card, landing in London. Yes, Romania is part of the EU and we don’t need a passport. Why is it so hard to get it? Why are you here? Where are you travelling from? Susceptible eyes and in 10 minutes I am out. Frustrated, but alright. Finally the sound of British accent from Tickets lady. Same thing in the Underground? Italian, then Indian, then Romanian, as we started talking, being amazed of so much diversity. The quest in the British land has started. I gues nothing else matters when friendly faces meet you at Burnt Oak saying: Welcome Diana & Manu!, therefore, thank you Adina and Ionut, later on, Diana (she bakes amazing brownies). Romanians can be bitchy abroad, but these 3 were great. Did I say thank you? Thank you!
Cities can start fights over international events, but London got The Olimpics for the 3rd time. I cannot say I did not enjoy the city, I even managed trying not to see the working sites around me, those pieces of road, buildings or halfway bridges being refurbished around 2 important events: elections on the 3rd of May and The Olympics, for the summer. I must say that all those messages in the Undergound signed by The Mayor of London give a certain confidence , it feels like he really thinks about you… but does he? I think so. But I also think that he cares more about his toursits than he does about his citizens.
Anyway, he must be a good guy, because I could perfectly understand how to work my way out in the public transport and the map I had was accurate, therefore, I found every little church stuck between ciment homes, trying to scream prayers of history out of their stones of faith.
Ok, I admit, it is absolutely sad seeing Romanians trying to fool tourists with stupid games in London. They are in groups of 6 maybe, their own people bet so they can make other play, they speak Romanian and they make a fool of their country. I appologize for their existence.
Squarrels! Yes! A lot of them in St. James Park. Pigeons can be annoying, but for the sake of squarrels? They may be cute and funny, but… well, they are. Their fluffy tails and their eyes, running around and climbing up your leg just to reach a small peanut? How can you not call that cute? A place with a Must Go There, on it. Then, feel free to enjoy Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, Wesminster Abbey, The London Eye or Buckingham Palace. They will alway be there.
Why go and visit London? Well, you must see for yourself what those photos from the English books were all about. It is impressive. You don’t need a mug from Starbucks, a flag shaped kitchen magnet or a dress from Gucci. You don’t even need a bag of M&M from M&M’s world. The fun part you get after wondering around the city, eating some chips and taking loads of photos. The evening comes silent or less silent, in an authentic pub with a pint of TEA (Traditional English Ale), my personal favourite. While enjoying a nice conversation with old friends, you might as well get a great view over the city lights, playing at the surface of the river Thames. Too bad you cannot see too many stars, but feel lucky if you can spot some of them. I guess we have traded light… for light. Just that, we noticed we can make more light than the sky.
Go to Greenwich, and have even a better view from the top of the hill, have a stroll in the park, then around the university, enjoy the music of a student playing piano at a random window or everyone’s laughter while enjoying every bit of their London life. They might hate their jobs and the amount of tourists, but at the end of the day, there is nothing a cup of tea and biscuits won’t solve.
Next article, Liverpool!