No. 1 - London
My first day in London, I took a nap at a corporate apartment that was rented for my wife. She was working and I was given a few hours to catch up on sleep of which Delta, and the globe, had robbed me. It was a wondrous luxury, sleeping on a bed, after being cooped up in an aluminum missile. I napped, showered, had a bit of breakfast and went off to take our luggage to Hannah at her office.
The office is in Aldgate. Literally. You see the Aldgate sign for the Underground right there. This is the east end of London: Shoreditch, Whitechapel, Islington, Spitalfields. It's where the Salvation Army was founded. It's the former 'ome of the Cockney, it is. And it's the hunting grounds of one of the most notorious serial killers of all time: Jack the Ripper.
After dropping off the luggage at the office, I made my way to a pub, The Ten Bells. It was the last place Jack the Ripper's victim's drank before they all were murdered horribly by a butcher, a doctor, a painter or the Queen Herself. It's a beautiful pub. Tin ceiling, blue, white and gold Victorian floral tiling, a neon sign that implores us to 'Keep It Real,' in glorious pink script.
It's full for 3pm on a Friday. Or maybe that's normal. I don't know what the working and drinking habits of Londoners are. But every table is taken. I belly up to the bar and order a Hop House 13 Lager. Five pound fifty. It's a full imperial pint. The Queen's pint. Five and a half quid. I compliment the bartender on the beauty of his bar. He shrugs and says "Issa nice ol' place, yeah." He looked like Phil Collins who had decided to forgo drumming and make the move into freak shows, as the tattooed man. He was throwing it all away as a bartender.
I made my way into the back of the bar where I just saw someone leaving. A high top table just for me. The lone American in a bar that had this name since just after the American Revolution/American War For Independence, 1794. It gets this name from the Nicholas Hawksmoor designed church directly next door, though today, it only has eight bells in its peal.
I sat and people watched, doodling with a pen in my notebook. They weren't great doodles. Probably more like hatchy sketches. I'm trying to do better at drawing.
I finished my beer because it was time to be finished with my beer and I left, leaving a couple twenty or thirty years my senior to have my table. He had a half pour of something and she had a pink fizzy thing that I imagine was a Dubonnet and Gin and probably seltzer.
Away I went, back to Aldgate, then to Bayswater, to a hotel named for the most famous emperor of all time. I noted that it was the 16th of March.