London, England

Big Ben from the Tour Bus... by Todd Hanlon

In the Summer of 2010, I spent a few weeks traveling around the United Kingdom. London was one of the main destinations. I traveled in from the North of Ireland, where I caught the ferry across the Irish Sea to catch the Scotrail and on toward a transfer to BritRail’s high-speed express train that would take me into London. It was a long ride that started at around 5 in the morning. I did not arrive in London’s Euston Station until 8 or 9 pm. It was a pleasant ride, despite the lengthiness, as I was able to see the beautiful English countryside.

Once I arrived in the city of London, I had to navigate to the Hotel Russell – a mere 5 blocks. Unfortunately, when I arrived they realized they had overbooked. The very polite receptionist offered me a lovely glass of their finest Burgundy while I waited in the lounge until they figured out what to do. She arranged for a suite in one of their neighboring hotels. I had been traveling days with limited Internet access. I requested a room with Internet. She found a room near Parliament that had Internet service and offered to put me in the cab to get there compliments of the hotel. I arrived at a luxury room, in a boring neighborhood with nothing to do. I was sleepy so it really did not matter much. I ordered some dinner from the room service while planning the rest of my trip online. The next day I had to carry my luggage back to the hotel, in a cab that they also arranged for. The room she gave me was one of the nicest I had been in on the trip. It was huge with an excellent view, refrigerator, dining area, and a huge bathroom with both tub and shower.

Hotel Russell Lounge

The neighborhood of Bloomsbury is conveniently located to Westminster, Soho, Chelsea and all of downtown London. I like to hang around Old Compton Street in the many gay pubs and nightclubs at night. It was just under a 15 minute walk away. I did visit many of the pubs this trip. Some were fun, others were boring… The pints weren’t cheap as they were in Ireland – especially up North. I also went to a party that I heard of with the Blitz Kids. They are a spin off from the NYC Club Kids but in Britain. I got there a little too early only to find myself too inebriated to stay late. Boy George is a part of the Blitz Kids. I also went to Heaven, GAY, but skipped Fabric this trip.

There was lots of time for art galleries, shopping on Oxford Street, afternoon tea, and even a trip to Wales. I wanted to travel to some other cities to look at colleges, but was having such a good time that I couldn’t get out of the city. I did make it to interview at Goldsmith’s College for a PhD in Media Studies, but was not accepted. The college did not look as nice as I had hoped, and was really not too disappointed. It was known for graduates like Malcolm McLaren, with a serious artsy atmosphere in New Cross. I was the only person on the interview wearing a suit.

The shopping was really fun. I had a list of places to visit that Brian Asby had prepared with me earlier. We scoured the web for trendy boutiques to visit while I was there. I liked Camden a lot with the outdoor pavillion. There was great sneaker shopping there as well. Not to mention the coolest little techno raver shop called CyberDog. I also hit up the Levis Store on Oxford Street for some basic blue jeans. Lastly, I went to the Vivienne Westwood World’s End Boutique to shop and start thinking about my thesis. I bought a few cool tshirts, a charm for my tie, and some bondage pants with an Over sized Drunken sailor shirt for Brian. It was expensive…

After applying to Goldsmith’s, I decided to try again with an application for an MBA at Hult International Business School. I was accepted with a generous scholarship award. I did study really hard for the GMAT exam in the NYU library for about 5 hours or more every day for a few months. College starts in August, so I need to be in London two weeks before to secure housing. The rent is really expensive out there so I need to be prepared financially.

Click for More Photos from London, England Summer 2010.

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