Friday, October 1, 2010

Ramblings from Britain (written at 6:22 a.m., having been awake since 2)

So, it's 6:22 in the morning here. I've been awake since 2:00. Don't know why. Watched Final Fantasy: Advent Children for the third time since coming here. It's a good movie. Anyways, here are more tales from Britain, also known as that place that wishes it had won the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

So, first thing any American needs to know about Britain: everything is freaking expensive! It is, quite frankly, ridiculous. Like, a tiny bottle of soda (way smaller than the kind you buy at mini-marts or soda machines in the land of the free and home of the brave) costs 1 pound (pound of what, anyway?) and 50 pence, which is about $2.50 in real money. Second most important thing, and very closely related to the first one: restaurants do NOT offer free refills for soda. So, not only are you paying a ridiculous price for soda. but you don't get a refill afterwards. I have only found one place that offers free refills: it's a Britain-ized Pizza Hut and lets you make your drink refillable for a mere 50 pence extra. So dumb.

Bu moving on: Britain has some really cool stuff about it as well. It's not all severely overpriced everything and inexplicably low supplies of soda. For one thing, there is 100% genuine wide-open British countryside everywhere! Like, I'm constantly surprised by the realization that Oxford is surrounded on all sides by English countryside (you know, on account of being in England). And it's pretty cool.

So, the country of England is criss-crossed (is that how you spell it? It looks weird...) with little footpath, some of them kind of paved and some of them just a really thin patch of dirt through fields. Now, these fields are owned by people. A lot of them are private property. However, there is an actual, legit law that as long as someone, anyone, travels a particular footpath at least once a year, that footpath remains a public right-of-way. So there's these public paths going, in some cases, right through the middle of privately owned fields and stands of trees and across rivers and stuff. Pretty sweet, right? Why doesn't America have cool laws like that?

On a slightly more serious note, walking through the countryside and seeing the super-old buildings standing right next to very new, modern buildings, it's not hard to see why the great fantasy writers are English. England is old, older than America can ever hope to be (however superior America might be in every other respect). Britain (not just England, but Scotland and the rest as well) is a land of legends. King Arthur and Robin Hood and William Wallace--some of these, like Wallace, are real people who have become more than their factual, literal history, while others are based on reality to a much smaller extent, if at all. There's something about being here that seems to blur the line between myth and reality, just as the line between past and present is blurred by the old houses next to the modern office buildings.

It's nice here. I like walking around outside the town more than through its streets. But I don't like being so far away from everyone. Anna can't come soon enough (and you too, Mom). I do not seem to be made for traveling merely for the sake of traveling.

Wow. Got kind of melancholy there. Anyway... England's pretty cool (there are English people everywhere! Like, just walking around!). But America's just better. Cheap soda with free refills. Buffalo chicken snackers. Family. Friends. Anna. I'm done now. I wonder if I'll fall asleep later today?

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