Friday, August 15, 2008

Venice and Milan, This Trip is At its End

So my trip is almost over and these past two days have been pretty mellow.

Venice, or Veneza, was pretty great. If it weren't for the heat and the tourists I would say it was almost a little magical. The trained pulled into Venice through beautiful and fertile (huge plump peaches growing on the side of the tracks) Italian countryside and across a sudden and long expanse of water dotted with cruise ships and other ocean going vessels. .First and foremost the city is built on a salt swamp so its water everywhere, no cars, only boats and your feet - water taxis, water metro lines with boats, and bridges. If you have a thing for masks, this is the place. I wanted to get one sooo bad, but alas it would have been too much to bring it back in my suitcase, not to mention my funds running short and my mother cutting of the cash flow saying "what are you going to use a mask for?" in a scrunched up face. Ah well. I did get a mask keychain. :D Venice is one city I am determined to go back to, just to explore it properly for a day or two. I did go on a gondola ride and that was a lot of fun. It was very peaceful and relaxing floating through the water. My mom tried to get her Gondola "driver" to sing, to which he replied he only sing when drunk. My mom then pulls out a bottle of wine and tells him, "will this do?" Yea, good times. I even got to sample a sweet - this ice treat almost like a icee flavoured with almond syrup. It was decadently delish, but its sugar content had me a little sore and puffy later on. I had to spoil myself a t least once.

In a few hours we left and trained our way to Milan. The sky opened up and poured rain on the train - the first we've seen in almost two weeks - back in Paris was the last time it rained. Milan proved to be a very wet city, well in comparison to what we were sued to. So in we go to Milan, another fashion central, and to my utter dismay the whole city was pretty much shut down. Most shops were closed as thier owners were away on month long vacations. Yea, Europeans have a month off to vacation. Pretty sweet. Our first day we did the hop on hop off tour bus. Not much I found interesting in Milan after all the beautiful sights from other cities (especially Veneza and Firenza). I liked the graffiti here - very bold lines, robotic, quirky. Each city has its own flavour of graffiti and here it was very fresh and artistic - as if the artists were trying to do something different. Unfortunately I was low of shots on my cam and did not get as much as I would like. Barcelona and Madrid are still my favs for graffiti though.

Today my mom took us to a church and we got to see Leonardo DaVincci's Last Super. Did you know that it's huge and painted on the side of a wall that was suppose to be a masoleum to some Rennaisance guy who died in prison and thus the place didn't become a masoleum. Bleh. And what you see, what you see with a lot of the art, is merely modern interpretation of the original works as they need restoration. The colors, the shapes, even objects can be removed or added and what you get is something slightly skewed from what the original artist had intended. Masterpiece? Or just our attempt to hold onto something and yet brand it as original? These pieces of art are long gone and all that's left are copies called originals. Tsk.

But today was a holiday and hardly any stores were opened. I had planned to do a lot of lastminute shopping today, but alas ... So I bought myself some treats - sesame, pistachio, and walnuts chopped and fused together by honey into tasty tasy bars. I must make some when I get back home. There was one store open so I got myself a nice new umbrella. WHat holiday was today? I 'unno, but the Pope was in town in this great Gothic Cathedral (kinda of scary looking with all its spikes and stark grey color) called the Duomo (lots of places called that in Italy). That would explain the military presence I saw all throughout Milan. I thought it was a little overboard. My sister was like "it's because the Italian Mafia is based here." No, it's just the Pope needs protection from the radicals amoung his flock. :P

So early tomorrow morning I leave back to London and then fly out to Bermuda on Sunday. I probably won't be able to update again until I and back on my native island soil. Until then ...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

5 Cities 4 Days

... And some really tired feet. The toughest leg of my journey is over - weds in Madrid; thurs back in Barcelona; Fri in Paris; Sat in Rome and then Florence. Was it tough? Yes. Lugging heavy suitcases around everywhere. Madrid was just a day trip though. Spanish countryside is very ... arid and desert like with dry brush and sparse bushes. Madrid was the most quiet of all the cities I travelled and had some great graffitti. Things were cheap there too and I wish I bought more things in Madrid. Attitudes there though? Well, attitudes all over Spain - eh, they're funny with Blacks but no evil looks like the one I got here in Florence byu a tourist or two. I'll get to that in a sec. So I did my shopping and got some nice stuff back in Barcelona and then hopped the night train for Paris.

Back in Paris we picked up my younger sis and her friend and did some food hunting. I managed to get caught up in a French discount store and walked out with some cool socks. And soon another night train awaited for us. This little French boy ran by our train cabin door and stared in at us, gawking. Afterwards I said 'Yep, that's exactly how the adults feel but they try to keep it in check, except this kid is just curious and not crazy like his adults.' Maybe I'm harsh, but ah the fuck well. :D So in a six bed cabin I slept in the lowest bed which was a clautrophibic sort of this wedge between the seats like lint in a coach. French countryside is gorgeous. I would like to stay in the country next time.

We arrived in Roma, or Roma, checked our lugage in storage and hopped on a tour bus. My thoughts of Rome - eh. It was cool seeing all the old stuff, Vatican City, churches, but I guess I wasn't that enthuciastic. I saw the Colloseum but didn't go inside. Everything was from the tour bus and there were long lines everywhere. Infact, all of the cities save for Madrid were there long long line and throngs and throngs of tourists. That is very much a turnoff to me. I would rather secluded forgotten old things in hidden glens to these over commercialized tourist attractions. Blergh.

So after five hours we boarded a train for Florence or rather Firenze. This city is straight out of a story book with cobble stone narrow streets, and 15 century style. Lots of art here. and great looking homes. There was a funny bridge covered with these Rennaisance styled homes. I think it's owned by a fashion designer now. On the tour bus we travelled up into the hills, where it was much cooler, and got to see a great view of the city at night whilest the big bus rode around tight scary corners inches away from a steep drop. Okay that makes it sound dramatic. It's not that bad. On the way down, since the top of the tour bus is open air, we got smacked by branches. It was a good laugh though, especially when my grandpa said that the branches hitting us were all in our heads. Well, he got whollopped too. Meh! Served him right!

Today I got a chance to visit some museums. On the way to the first museum, a cinnimin roll-faced badly aged Asian woman gave me the most wicked face I'd ever seen. It was so full of disgust and whatever. SO I regarded her as one does a child or senile old person. I grinned at her and gave her silly faces. Oh that made her so mad. lol. I did the same to an Indian man who looked at me with disgust as if saying 'How dare you be in a place like this as a tourist and look so wealthy as you do!' Well I just smiled and stared at him until he looked away. Yep, didn't expect me to handle you that way. I have no shame! It's the cost of being so unabashedly 'Black' with my fro and all. I'm getting used to the attitudes. A smile is a powerful weapon, so full of mischief and scorn. A sly grin can topple stone.

But the museums were okay. I got to see some pornography ... errr classical art, a few tranny sculptures; Leonardo's David and David's massive cock and balls; lots of balls and boobs; Madonna through the ages as she progressively became more and more bare chested and gaudy. I even got to see baby Jesus grabbing her boob and then later sucking it. My for the son of man to suck a teat! How how ... human! lol. I'm being a punk. I can't appreciate this art. It's been appreciated to much. I would rather the graffitti or a good modern art museum. Old things don't resonate with me unless they are untouched or in an ancinet place. Being in a museum they lose their power and magnificence. It's like looking at a stuffed animal or animal in a zoo vs looking at that animal alive in the wild.

So tomorrow I leave for Venice and Milan. After that it is London and a night in Gatwick before flying home. A few more days now in Europe.

Friday, August 8, 2008

1 Week in Europe

Yep. As I am writing this it's 4 am in Bermuda and in two hours I will have been in Europe exactly one week. What have a learned so far? Well ...

  • Europeans aren't the shit, well French and Spaniards (haven't been in Britain long enough). So far I've seen nothing that makes them more spectacular than the States. It's not that I'm looking for things to push the States up, but some things are always the same and attitude is everywhere, bias, whatever. White people will be white people - scared of the great big black unknown. Save for perhaps Britain, the people in the countries I've visited have this weird relationship with Blacks and I've seen it in the States too, only more pronounced here since here really lacked Jim Crow laws to show Black folk that "hey white folks really loath us so". I get this feeling that Blacks are encouraged to mix so their kids can be seen as beautiful and accepted (but isn't it like that for Black people everywhere, save for some places in Africa). I know our population is so minute in Europe, but damn still. If one is going to diss the US and then turn around and be a punk when it comes to color in their own country, that's a flying shame (Canada floats to mind, well Ontario anyhow). In fact, perhaps these countries are just too old. So much culture and history and mold, that in these changing times the views of the people get left in the dust. I actually like that aspect of the States - that push forward into the future. I think Barcelona was like that at one point in the early 20th century when its buildings of modern art went into the sky, but now I thinks that aspect is dying off. Then again, I've only been to three cities, so this view only reflect people in the city. For example, a friend of mines said French people to the south in the small towns are friendly and curious. This brings me to ...

  • Feminism? What's that? I find in the countries I visited, female roles are more traditional than ever. In Barcelona you see people breaking out though with the whole tribal scene - earing stretchers, women with close crop hair, black hair with rockabilly bangs, tribal tattoos, guys with locs, etc ... A friend of mines put it this way whenever he saw people into the tribal scene - they're trying to rock what they lack. This crew seems to be the exception in a fashion ruled, skirt wearing Western Euro world. I wonder how it's like in the small towns dotting the countryside? To further this, everything is too neat in appearance but not much else underneath. Should I dare say the countries I've been to are shallow? On some levels, yes, but then I think the whole damn world is shallow and my thinker and prover just found evidence. lol. Okay, well perhaps not everywhere is shallow and since I lack the language skills I can't as of yet find the right scene of independent thinkers and freedom fighters. They are out there. I've seen some of them, perhaps I am just too limited by my family and myself. Plus, there are other countries in Europe to explore more thoroughly - the Eastern bloc, the Nordic bloc, Britain.

  • Raw foodism. It's all about the meat, meat , meat , meat, meat! It's hard to find a good veg restaurant, even harder a raw food restaurant. There seem to be none in existence in any of the countries I visited. Spain was somewhat into the vegetarian scene, but the raw food scene has yet to grace these shores. In Paris I was saved by the fresh fruit sellers and the many many cafes which included vegetable dishes, even if they were cooked, or had cow cheese or meat in the salads. Barcelona has plenty of bigger US chain restaurants, but that is because it more touristy (cruise ships right on the Medi). The local places seem to be focused on either the sea or traditional Spanish food - meat. There's even a ham museum in Madrid. Saving grace though is that grocery stores here pack some spectacularly ripe and delicious produce. Avocados are inexpensive considering the price of the Euro to the US dollar.
Okay, I gather I come across sounding like a bitter old traveler hag woman. I'm homesick and I appreciate my home environment a lot more. God, I could have grown up in some of these cities! Imagine what that would have done to my sense of Blackness if I lacked the right parents and guidance?!? I also wish I had better travel companions. There are so many things that I want to explore, but I am still treated like a child, even more so here on these strange shores, and thus cannot explore. Maybe it's a psychological weight of knowing where these countries came from. Every monument or palace I saw in Spain all I could think about was South America being raped to make such grandeurs. In France, I couldn't help but think about how the Kings abused its people and stole from other lands; or what they did to Africa at the end of the 19th century. When my family gets to Italy, I'm sure I'm just going to be thinking about facism a lot. Part of me says, just relax and enjoy, the other part of me says BS this is the world and the world is not a happy land, it is a dark fairy tale whose grossness is perpetuated into the dark halls of the future . How can I "just" sit back and enjoy things covered in blood of the unwillingly sacrificed. Engulf another spoonful of comatose and fall back asleep or smell the salts and sharply wake up to its bitter smells. I appreciate the beauty, but I force myself to see the daggers underneath and not get caught up in the fantasy that such beauty came without high costs.

I enjoy learning about the world, but this is no vacation.

But to sum up what I've been up to in the last two days.

Weds I was in Barcelona. Didn't go bike riding but did do a long troop through the tourist centers of the city. By troop I mean it must have been close to ten miles. We were just walking to walk and take everything in. We shortcut through local sections of the city that smelled like open sewage to get to a main tourist area with museums and parks and stuff. This is a city made for walkers and bike riders, that's for sure. Once there, we walked through alleyways filled with interesting shops and people. I got myself two books in english by Neil Gaiman since I read through those that I brought with me. My brothers were with me and we got to check out some clothing stores. Stuff that would have been hundreds of dollars in N.America are just a couple of Euros - all under one hundred US dollars. Soon, we were on this square where there were mimes. Now these guys, they're not your typical black and white wearing, face painted, beret wearing mimes. These guys were done up to look like statues. One guy was painted all white and sitting on a crappers; another guy had himself painted like a bronze statue. There was even a guy painted all in blue and bald. He looked so surreal and consequently was very popular with the tourists. These men and women probably have 9-5 jobs and afterwards make a little extra from the tourists by doing the mime bit. I am sure the pay must be good. A one or two Euro coin from a few of the thousands of tourists in the area = sweet money. I like artsy fartsy things like that and wonder ifI could pull something off like that in Bermuda with a troop of folks. :P

On our way back to our apartment, we took the long route along the Mediterranean. Being a Bermudian and experiencing Bermuda beaches daily, I must say the beaches of Barcelona are bland. I don't think I would swim in the waters here in the city. Perhaps further out in the rough and bushes I would where I can see the true bueaty of Spanish beaches. But ah, so as we were walking people were dressed nice and out for a good time on the beach front. We walked by hotels built atop of cool pools of water, giant glittering casinos, beachside restaurants and bars, more modern art (Lobster McPhee - you'll see when I upload pictures after I get back home). I liked it, but I was smelly and my feet hurt, I just wanted to get back home and rest it up for a few hours. Eventually we did get home, and immediately went back out to look for grub. We walked to a mall at the end of this huge diagonal avenue that runs from one end of the city to the other - Diagonal Avenue it was called :P. There was a group of restaurants and each one we approached told convenient closed as we got there. We did get there right at their closing time, but still, we were miffed. Eventually we were herded to a McDonald's since that was the only place still open. I ate nothing but did watch some Spanish music videos.

The next morning, while still operating on Bermuda time, which is 5 hours behind, we woke at 6 and left for Madrid. Ah but, time is precious so I will continue this later ...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Barcelona Baloney Sandwiches

Sepia colored dreams.

Pickle shaped buildings of jade.

Valleys of city and towering mountains of dry brush.

Injects of modern art.

Barcelona surprised me. Tired and achey, we pulled into this city on the Eurorail from Paris at 8:30 in the morn. It wasn't a pleasant journey.

Monday I came home from a rather grumpy shopping trip with my mom (bought a dress and checked out a French health store - goat brie and kamut essene bread are the shitzle-snitzle), packed my things and off we went. While waiting at the station, these three French station police or whatever the fuck they were decided it would be cute to target us out (pointing and staring at us) and do some sort of intimidation crap with us. It was silly and I nicknamed them the weirdo trio (cause they were pale and pimpley and weird). I guess boredom leads them to the worldwide fun of "let's profile the blackie". lol. But I suppose that's what I get for daring to wear my fro' out. Shame on me. Shame! Bull (and that goes to every last person who tried to stare me down. My fro' is cool and purely, naturally me cot dangit!). :D People need to handle the afro and if they can't they can go suck a teat.

But yea, so we got on the train, which was claustrophobic. The cabins were small and had pop out beds. I was with three other family members and we tried to sleep. The room got hot and then someone outside started illegally smoking. The train was careening around the its tracks feeling as if it would derail at any moment. It wasn't a pleasant journey at all.

Arriving in Barcelona, we hopped it on over to the rental agency only to be told our place would not be ready until 12'ish. So we left our luggage at the place and went in search for breakfast and a hop on hop off bus tour. While waiting on my mom to get tickets for the bus I discovered the dirtiest place in Europe - a square filled with pigeons and bird crap covering everything. I shuddered at the sight of this. And then my older brother and father decided to take a picture amongst all the filth. Needless to say I spazzed out.

So my mom gets the bus tickets, now we had to wait in a huge line of other tourists in order to board a bus. While waiting we caught a glimpse of my grandpa talking to someone on a bench in the distance. When it came time for me to retrieve him, I got caught up in the people he was talking to. It was an American guy, maybe in his 50's, and his European wife - they'd both been in Barcelona for 40 years. They were friendly and engaging and curious about Bermuda and us (my younger brother was there too) as a whole because I guess we were different from your average tourist. As they depart they take photos of us. Now, we are surrounded by a line of tourists so I felt very uncomfortable as they took pics because everyone in line just stared at us. My mom mentioned to me that they were about to board so I grabbed my Pa and younger brother up and departed. I was told I have a very "quiet intelligence" by the man and his wife. Cool, but in all a very strange experience. Perhaps it would have been better vibes had it been in a coffee shop and not surrounded by throngs of touristas.

The bus tour was nicer than the one in Paris and London mainly because people in Barcelona drive sooooo much better than people in the two places. Paris is the worse though. We saw funky architecture all around, even the churches. There was one building designed to look like dragon, and a church straight out of some weird scifi fantasy dream. This city is a city of modern art. It is like none other I've been to. Infact, I would have never expected a city to be this way. But each city I've traveled to on this trip has had its own flavor - Paris and its romantic architecture and white buildings; and London with its mixture of contemporary and Victorian. Barcelona is like everything modern art and architecture from the early 1900's onwards. It seems like this is where it started and everyone else just followed suit. I like it though. This city is also hilly and right at the foot of old mountains which lay right on the Mediterranean. It is incredible to see the whole city from the site of '94 Olympics stadium.

So the bus tour went well despite a close bout with heat stroke and having to sit downstairs (it's a double decker bus) in the a/c and rest my head for a while. It's 95 degrees here, although without the Bermuda humidity is actually not that bad. We had time to kill , especially after being told that our place would not be ready until 3 instead of 12. I wanted to sleep though, just lay my head down in a soft bed, peel off my smelly cloths and just rest, but we didn't have that option. We could only just keep on trekking. A stop at a Chinese food restaurant that had an English menu helped to replenish our spirits. It was kind of embarrassing because my grandpa kept demeaning our Chinese waiter "I want a Chine-nee drink" or "I want a Chine-nee dessert". I know it's just his generation and out of his own ignorance (not too many Chinese in Bermuda) but it was still very embarrassing and rude. I know if my grandma was around she'd check him on that hard. So my Pa gave the poor waiter a big tip. >.<

My parents and Pa split to go back to the rental agency to get the luggage while my brothers and I took another bus to get to our rental. We rode that bud route twice just relaxing and taking everything in. We decide that we MUST do a bike tour tomorrow, and to check out the "bollero" the bowling alley just around the way from where we stay. We finally hopped off the bus after an hour and walked a few blocks to our place. My dad was outside waiting for us. 12 floors later and we were finally in our rental - a nice contemporary place where you have to pull these giant things from the ceiling to act as blinds; two floors; no phone or internet. Right now I've gone bootleg. Shhh ...

Time to get some rest finally! And brush up on my Spanish.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Operation Pari Berry Part Deux

Paris in a nutshell:

Beautiful gams and fells dressed to the nines real fine cause hey this is the city of fashion and models and such.

My brothers went to this club and said the bouncers looked like models straight out of that Ben Stiller movie Zoolander - they were in hoodies and posing with that silly ¨Blue Steel¨look.

But yes, this is the place to go to if you like to shop and want inspiration on what to wear. London is eclectic, Paris is Romantic. I can imagine Milan will be sleek in a ghetto fabulous sort of way.

No skyscrapers and beautiful decor on the buildings. There`s a reason why some art freaks go crazy from the beauty of the architecture. You can just feel the history and smell the ancient psychic must in the air. This is a land that`s been people since when people lived in caves. Their history has not been eradicated like other places on earth (Native American and African; save for individual and obscure tribes). Ah the nature of the conquerers. I am sure the rest of Europe will feel this way when I eventually explore it all one day.

French people aren`t snobby. If find them very sexy because of how they openly show passion whether it be raw lust or anger. I guess they show both spectrum rather than mainly aggression that I see on the other side of the Atlantic on my isle. I was a little stoked by it all. Yea! Passion! Alright! And non of that weirdness in the US and Canada towards Black folk. Paris has a huge black population. I have read of the taint, the riots, etc ... so I know this place has its problems with us of ebony skin, but at least it`s a change. As I say to myself, different places have different dimensions of negatude towards my Blackness. What one place lacks in a dimension, they make it up in a totally new dimension. I know with Barcelona, they are weary of color due to their history of Moorish invasion, so I know what to expect when I leave for there tonight. I just didn`t know what to expect here and well, it wasn`t too bad. If I spoke French, looked like a recent African immigrant; perhaps things would have been different. I mean, Black women still fry their hair with relaxers here.

But French people suck at driving. Haha! The Arch de Triumph is a death trap of laneless cars and mopeds going around in a circle. I`m surprised by the amount of folk without bike helmets riding around on their pedal bikes because of the intense traffic and crazy drivers. My dad was like look at that family, they`re going on a death ride. The driver of the night tour van we went on was cutting off people, getting cursed at a lot. He sped around corners real sharp that I felt like I was in Ber,uda again where the roads are so narrow you can`t help but get that effect. The guy even drove us down streets packed with people. I was miffed as people cursed us in French. Yea, cats can`t drive.

You see some American influence - posters for American movies, chain restaurants, etc ... But that`s all over the world. We import French style and wines, and in turn give em`back equivalent quick fixes of fast food, sports and media. Still though, you`d be hard pressed to find a supermarkt and the fast food is only near the tourist areas. Cafes are everywhere and everyone walks. French people are skinny or rather Parisians.

So today I am bound for shopping and a health store and then railing off to Barcelona. I am going to miss these open balconies and little fruit sellers, sexiness, and overall romanticism compared to my isle; but I`ll be back. There are places and things I want to do in this city that having my family around really bars me from doing. My only con, I`m a laid back chick. I can only do feminine for so long. :D

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Pari Berri Cha Chah Chah

I`m in Paris.

London was a delight and I would like to spend more time there in the future. Did a tour on a double decker bus that was open at the top. Had a good time making fun of things and being sarcastic with my siblings - tour buses are very touristy. Bought some sushi and a smoothie that said it was for three bucks but knew it was worth 6 dollars. Still though, better than Bermuda prices. FYI there are no trashcans in the city (hardly anyhow) to discourage the homeless. Room serve was my source of grub as my energy bars made me sick with a nasty allergic reaction to the chocolate in them (I barfed). Tea, smoked salmon and avocado was what I got.

Today I left London, took the train under the Channel and two hours later entered Paris. From there I took the metro and then walked to my rental. The rental is great with three floors, a hot tub and two patios.

I got a taste of Paris. On the metro I got to see a splashing of local styles and tastes. I tried out my lame French skills buying two mangoes and two avocados from a middle eastern fruit and vege seller in the metro station - bonjour, merci. Keyboards are all different in setup. I am still getting used to it all.

Compared to London, Paris feels a bit more like Toronto and a bit bigger in feeling. I really enjoyed the London vibe though and miss it, but I've not been out enough to really scope out the vibe here. Part of it is anxiety - I am not familiar enough with the language and thus feel I will fail to connect to interesting people. At times I wish I were travelling sans my family so I can get full exposure, but ah well. My views will change as I get comfortable in this new environment. I just wish I brought a personal camera.

It`s three in Bermuda and 8 here.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Cramped Flight and a Taste of Britain

Coming in from a little posh apartment in London via free internet on an apple computer ...

At 12 ish last night, Bermuda time, my plane zoomed off into the dark skies. I'd never seen Bermuda at night. What a beautiful sight to see that tiny isle sparkling like a jewel in a sea of darkness - hook shaped amber on velvet. Before long the clouds swallowed us up and we were off to spend six hours in coldness and crampness as we (my family and I) attempted to sleep comfortably. Blankets weren't complementary and cost 3 pounds or 6 dollars (along with neck pillow, headphones, eyecover). With the a/c on so high they practically force you to buy their package else face hypothermia. Made it through though. I am thrifty so I brought a blanket and extras anticipating the highway robbery. There was some extreme turbulence, which was fun. Seriously, planes don't scare me anymore. They just don't. Manufactured scare tactics for people who watch too much news. There are better things to be paranoid about.

After one spell of sleeping, my legs sprawled over my younger brother's legs since his legs were long and needed the extra space, plus we were sharing my blanket, I awoke to the sun and a glimpse of British landscape below out my window. The clouds were tiny, white and fluffy. I was surprised. I figured it would be like the US and it's murky grey miasma whenever I entry its airspace. Britain on the other hand was clean and welcoming. The lack of suburbs and the small farm hamlets were charming and very attractive. British time is four hours ahead of Bermuda time, so it was well into the morning when our plane landed. In a flash we were through customs (a very easy process compared to stringent Bermuda and scare tactics US). There weren't any custom guards there to check our bags even! Security was relaxed and not uptight like entering a US airport. Even though the airport was crowded, everyone flowed, unlike Toronto airports. :P

Outside the airport the weather is in the 70's and very nice. Atmosphere is chill. We took a cool old school taxi to our hotel and got to peer out at Londoners. The city looks like Georgetown DC, but the people look like they're from downtown Toronto, only more relaxed. It's a totally different vibe here and I am enjoying it. I suppose, that suspicion that I am used to feeling, even in Bermuda, is just gone - no terrorism paranoia or the fashionable fear of the moment in the States (cause it was there even before 9/11); no blatant suspicion of dark skin as in Canada; and no social suspicion and conservativeness as is prevalent in Bermuda. My family as a group is still a curiosity though.

So I am going to rest and later on go on a hop-on-hop-off bus tour, shopping, and dinner. I'll write again when I get to Paris.