22 February 2008

Backpack, Day 1: Subways and the Jews

I had a backpack. I had my winter coat. I had my camera, my wallet, my best New Balances, and reserved for running and traveling. I had my tickets, my confirmations, and my passport. So, as I left my apartment at 1:45 in the morning nearly two weeks ago, I had become a traveler. A backpacker.

I was born with wanderlust. I was born ready to leave my hometown in South Florida. I demanded weeks, then months at camp, starting at the age of 8. I traveled the United States on a bus, and loved it so much, I repeated the journey as an adult staff member. I visited Poland and Israel, Canada and Mexico, the Bahamas and South Dakota. While my friends went on spring break cruises, I found excuses to go to New York, DC or Chicago. So when I moved to New York, and later decided to spend a year abroad in Jerusalem, nobody was shocked. This year, I have gone to Cairo and Sinai, Jordan and Turkey. I have enjoyed Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and many other lovely places in this amazing and complicated country. I finally got the chance to be a backpacker, and I grabbed it up. This, and the following posts, will follow me in my forays into the Europe I've always wanted to see.

Out with a backpack (and another)! Also, check out the winter coat with hood and hoodie combo. No chilly SBBs in Europe, no siree!

Because I had already gone on a trip with Rafi, and he has been to many of the places I yearn to see, I went on this trip solo. That's right. I braved the world alone, although, to be fair, I did visit and stay with friends in both London and Rome -- but I spent days upon days by myself, and each airport proved what it's like to feel alone in a teeming crowd. As a result of my solo effort, the series of pictures from this trip are self-portraits, in modern, Facebook-style. Each picture (unless otherwise noted), was taken with my extended right hand. Enjoy the close-ups, and if I look fat, well, that's just the angle. There was too much walking for me to gain a pound on this trip. Ugh, pounds. I hate the stupid pound. It was 2 dollars per pound when I was there. (See, that? How I transitioned from chubby to money so seamlessly? I should write a book...or a thesis. I should be writing my thesis instead of this blob...)

The first day of my trip was not particularly eventful. I took the Nesher taxi to the airport, I checked in, I boarded my flight, and off I went to Milan, and then, London. I took the Tube (yay! I love subways!) to the heart of central London, and booked myself into a hostel. My first day consisted of a trip to the Apple store, to book an appointment to see a Genius, as my intrepid little iPod finally seemed to have kicked the proverbial bucket. I also went to Subway, and the Jewish part of town, called Golders Green.

The Tube had these great signs about being polite. LOVE them.

Cutest campaign ever!

I know it's ridiculous that I went to Subway, but I found London to be very much like New York: super-expensive, filled with Starbucks after Starbucks, with a terrific public transportation system, lovely museums, a bustling theatre (yes, theatre) district and movies theaters, I mean, theatres, that cost more than buying a DVD. I missed my frequent stops at Subway stores in NYC, after getting off The NYC Subway, on my way to work. Where else can that tiny bit of money keep me so full until I finally tore myself away from my super camping-related job? So I relished the return to Subway stores and subways, in the form of the Tube.

Sweet, sweet Subway Veggie Delite! YAY!

Then, after walking around Regents and Oxford streets, which can only be compared to the horrible crush of people between Times Square and 34th Street, I encountered a man in a kippah, that gave me directions to Golders Green. The road, I'll admit, would be very exciting to someone coming from Florida, or even the Upper West Side, as the whole road is lined, right and left, with Jewish bookstores, Kosher eateries and Judaica shops. But, coming from Jerusalem, I was not so impressed with the Steimatzky's bookstore. I was amused. But not impressed.

I went to an internet cafe, because my travels took place during my JTS semester, and I had to keep up with my classes. Afterwards, I had some kosher Indian food, stuck to chicken so I didn't have to hear a mad-cow lecture from my mom at some point in the future, and went back to the hostel.

There was evening. There was morning. There was evening.
The first day.

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