Arrival in Paris and England shenanigans.
Moving to England was a new experience for me, firstly, for the obvious reason that I had never set foot on the continent before and, secondly, because I only knew three cities of my new country – London, Manchester and Liverpool – and I had no idea how to get to any of them.
I flew into Paris. My first impression of the so-called “most romantic city in the world” was rather poor. The city of love, to me, was nothing more than a waste bin. Cigarette butts littered the floor and junk of all sorts danced around the bushes. People were colorless, all dressed in mourning and I stood out like fresh blood in a bright red snowboarding coat, lacking the finesse of Parisian women. Noses were held high and directions given as a bonus but the disdainful look was free of charge. I also found the Eiffel Tower disappointingly small. So much so that it took me 5 days to go near it.
People were colorless, all dressed in mourning and I stood out like fresh blood in a bright red snowboarding coat, lacking the finesse of Parisian women. Noses were held high and directions given as a bonus but the disdainful look was free of charge.
I meant to stay 2 nights in Paris and take a train to London. That didn’t work out. The price I had planned to pay was 3 months old; on a budget, the EuroStar was luxury. Every morning, I went down to reception and would ask to stay an extra night. I wandered about Paris aimlessly, taking loads of photographs and learning how to use the 16 metro lines. Tasting my first macaroons whilst strolling Montmartre’s bohemian streets, I regained hope in Paris. Then, I had crepes and kebabs. I had many café crèmes and not enough pastries. Paris was sunny in its February glory but chilly.
I feel like this paragraph may be misleading. I didn’t warm up to Paris this time around.
Then, after many hours on a bus, I arrived in rainy London. We reached King’s Cross bus station. The next day it snowed a mushy snow and I had to watch as my shoes twirled in the drying machine. I saw Buckingham Palace, Abbey Road and discovered pubs where I tasted ale. Unsure whether I liked it or not, I tried a third pint then I decided that I did. One day, I went to the Borough Market, ate curry for the first time and, while I admired the Gothic Cathedral, decided that I liked curry. I photographed the London Tower Bridge under a cloudy sky and took a two-story bus to Piccadilly Circus. Sadly, I missed my train to Manchester as I didn’t know I had to go on the platform. It was my first time taking a train.
I bought a phone for £10 in Manchester. Best purchase I ever made. Four years later, it is still alive. It was my first phone with a SIM card. The saleslady frowned at me when I asked her to explain what a SIM card is. I made a day of passing out CVs but Manchester wasn’t what I was looking for. It didn’t have the right vibe. Manchester knew I wasn’t the right fit too. I didn’t get any calls.
After two days, I went to Liverpool, on the Beatles’ way. It was foggy, but the kind of dense fog that swallowed the whole city. I got lost next to my hostel, never finding the correct turn for the right street, until I did. There was no work in Liverpool.
Then I found out about Birmingham; industrial city, second largest in the UK. I headed down and found a gray city. I took a very full bus to a B&B nearby and discovered Brummie rudeness. With my home sitting on my shoulders, I was unwelcomed on this bus. Thought too large, people shoved at my bag and stared. Once it was dropped off, I did manage to finally melt into the crowd. Even my red coat was toned down. People here wore bright yellow stockings with purple skirts and cream coats. I fit in.
Quickly, I discovered commercial New Street and Broad Street’s clubs. I discovered the Canal. Then, I started a bar job a few days after my arrival, getting the call while eating a burger – a really good one at that. I learned how to pour beer and re-learned English in a Brummie accent. In trust, I hopped into a shady van in a smelly underground parking of my roommate-to-be. I learned Scottish has its own thick accent before moving in with 3 musicians and an ear-splitting opera singer. I discovered the Sunday roast dinner and surely that cannot be topped!