2 May 2013

An unusually long day in London

-You're violating the law. I heard a deep man's voice behind my back. He was staring at me and pointing at my camera lenses while I was flicking through my photos at London Victoria Coach Station. 
-Pardon?! At first glance I didn't understand what he meant. 
-Yes, You're violating the right to privacy. He repeated with his strong Irish accent.
-No, I'm not. I can't see in what sense I'm violating your right to privacy right now?! And I turned my back to the dodgy man with whom I was about to take the same coach to Paris...
-You're very rude. It didn't seem to have ceased so I backed off. 
-You are rude and you're disturbing me. I changed the queue with great aplomb.
***
I was so tired. I arrived to London in the early morning to take my Italian exams at King's and spent the rest of the day wandering around my favourite neighbourhoods. I couldn't get my head round to the idea that I didn't belong there any more. And it finally was so warm and sunny on the other side of the Channel Tunnel too. Was I missing my life in London? Admittedly, this city can be very surprising.
On my way to the Maughan Library I usually walked by that intriguing narrow entrance to the Middle Temple near the Royal Court of Justice but had no time to visit it until last week. How astonished I was when I discovered what it hid:









Middle and Inner Temple Gardens belonged to the Knight's Templar Order in the early Middle Ages. After the supression of the Order, its owners changed many times till it was passed to the Law Societies who have done a very good job in conserving its character, and now it hosts renowed barristers' chambers. 
Walking down a narrow alley from Fleet Street into the Temple (go through this big, black door between Barclays and Wildy&Sons Ltd) gives a nice sense of passing from Medieval London to Eighteenth Century London free of vehicular traffic. It's suddenly calm, clean, uncrowded and the gardens are huge. A perfect place for a picnic. I felt like an alien though amongst all these chic people, mostly barristers I guess.



The coach was almost full and the only remaining seats were those in the front. The annoying guy sat just in front of me. He looked as if he was taking that coach for the first time too and was searching for someone who could explain to him how to get to the Gare de Lyon from Gallieni. No one answered. He turned so vulnerable.
- I think I can...- I finally reacted
-Thank you very much. The old man felt ashamed of himself and gave me a feeble smile. I owe you a pint of beer.

At about 2.30am the crazy Russian driver said we arrived to Dover and had to get off the bus while travelling by ferry. I was totally exhausted but had a nice conversation with my another bus neigbour Nikolaj coming from Lancaster who was to take a three-week trip around Europe starting in Paris, then travelling to Amsterdam, Germany, Italy, Spain and all. 

We reached Paris at 7.00 am and the Irish man quickly collected his luggage and followed me together with Nikolaj. His name was Denis, he was travelling from Cork in Southern Ireland and intended to get to Montpellier for his favourite rugby team match. I accompanied him to the Gare de Lyon train station and helped him to buy the ticket, he was so muddled.
-Justyna, I thank you so much. I won't forget it. He grabbed my arm firmly to say goodbye. 
I just regret that I didn't take any photo of them both ;)

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