After a rather restless sleep due to Big Ben's punctual chimes (Elroy seemed to sleep perfectly–I think after a few weeks you would get used to it), we had a lazy morning of tea and Street Fighter on SNES. It must be said that the European SNES is different from the American one. I didn't even recognize the console when I first saw it. Strange. All part of the regional lock out master plan from Nintendo. I have to admit that I was seriously impressed with the graphics. I mean, the console is about 13 years old. I'm impressed Mario has a head.
After watching Elroy take his friend to town with Sagat and Ken, we decided to head out for a little Westminster sight seeing with the goal being a Wagamama's lunch around Leicester Square. We headed out past Lawrence of Arabia's flat and walked out towards St. James' park. Then we crossed The Mall and walked towards Haymarket where I spotted a Wagamama's with my eagle eyes. We ate there guessing that the Wagamama's in Leicester Square would probably be mobbed.
It took a little bit of convincing to get Elroy's friend to eat there as he thinks that Wagamama's (like Starbucks and McDonalds') is total corporate evil. I'd have to partialy agree with him, except that Wagamama's food is AWESOME. Although I was dismayed to find that the prices had gone up at least two pounds on each item, making it less of a bargain than when I was a student trying to find a filling but cheap meal in one of the most expensive cities in the world. McDonald's is horrible because the food is terrible and (like Walmart) it treats it's employees terribly. I'd rather have people eating healthier food at Wagamama's than fat and grease ridden E.coli food from Mickey D's. It's difficult to poo-poo Wagamama's (for me anyway) because I think it's pretty good food and its nice to save money on a good lunch. And the small noodle shops that it's muscling out? Well, those places usually don't treat their workers very well, pay them under the table, and are slightly unsanitary and illegal. Starbucks is totally evil, because of it chases out independent coffee makers, but I think their coffee is delicious if not just insanely expensive. Gingerbread latte, mmmmmm.
Lunch was great. I was sent on a small mission to find a Wagamama's t-shirt. Seemingly easy but actually quite difficult as we had to stop into 3 Wagamama's (Haymarket, Leicester Square, Royal Festival Hall) before we found one that actually had t-shirts and actually had a size larger than girls' baby tee small. Luckily, they really are everywhere in London and we didn't actually have to go too much out of our way. Yay!
When we got to Leicester Square there was a fair there–complete with
games that you can't win where they try to cheat you out of your money as well as rides and tons of really really cute stuffed animals. Elroy and I were watching the ride that was set up in the center of the square and we were trying to figure out what the ride was because it wasn't moving even though there were people in the seats. It was one of those huge rides where there are two baskets are either side of a huge metal arm that's pinned in the middle to a huge post and it rotates around that point. I asked him if he thought it was a look-around ride or a scary ride, posing the hypothesis that it was a sight seeing ride, kind of like the London Eye, where it brings you up to the top so that you can look around. The second after Elroy said that he thought it was a tourist ride, the arm swung down quite quickly and the seats that the passengers were in turned upside down and they started screaming. Vote changed to scary ride.
After Leicester Square we decided to take the tube down to South Kent where Elroy spent a lot of his undergrad
days. He showed me around his college with all the new pretty glass buildings and fancy architectural designs. Once we got to part of the inner courtyard and he showed me the library, I suddenly realized that I had been there before! I don't think I actually went into the library, but I remember one of my roommates in London had used the library there. It's a science/engineering/math kind of place so it was a great reference when we need to do research for papers or projects while we were in London. It was very cool. Unfortunately there was no Lost kind of pre-meeting connection, since I was there the fall after the summer of his graduation. That would have been a good story though.
Nearby was a cool photography exhibit that Elroy was keen on seeing at the Victoria and Albert Museum. By the time we got there it was already late afternoon and the place was mobbed with holiday tourists. They had set up some kind of holiday fair outside with a skating rink (complete with human zambonis–people on the ice with brooms pushing around water). The line was extra long and Elroy didn't really want to wait to get in only to get pushed around in a crowded gallery so we decided to head back to Haslemere. Did you know that you don't really visit "Santaland" in England? They call it "Santa's Grotto." Yeah, that's right. Grotto. Weird. Grotto makes me think of the little Mermaid. Which now and for the rest of my life makes me think of this TAL.
We headed back to Waterloo but not before we stopped into "Le Pain Quotidien" at the Royal Festival Hall for some Earl Grey, AWESOME walnut sourdough bread and a pain au chocolat. I was able to nicely freak Elroy out with my meticulous and obsessive complusive way that I butter bread. Yes, that's right. I make sure every inch of bread is covered with a thin but uniform layer of butter. What, don't you spend 5 minutes buttering each slice of bread? I'm sure there's medication out there but I'm not bothered. Anyway, I guess he had never seen me do it–come to think of it he has always been the one to butter the toast for breakfast in the morning. Slapping it on all chunky and uneven. Shudder. Moving on, it should be noted that we had a very nice French waiter (maybe the mean ones are in Covent Garden) who looked like just like Elvis. Sideburns, chin, tight pants and everything. Which, in a strange coincidence, was the name on the nametag of the server at Wagamama's who sold me the t-shirt no more than 20 feet and a staircase away. Seriously.