jump to navigation

From Bristol, with love March 20, 2009

Posted by Alt.L in Bristol, călătorii, Ob/lia.
25 comments

I’m spending this week in Bristol, UK, visiting my better half. We didn’t go out much for reasons too boring to explain, but I compiled some observations from this week and last November, when I also visited for a few days. In mid-July I’ll move here for good (oh, well, maybe not “for good” but rather for God knows how long). I start to like this feeling of having two left hands (and not in a dexterous way) when new to a culture, so I’ll probably try to hang on to it a bit before everything will start to look normal 🙂

But for now, it’s all about the tourist gaze (photos here).

• The buses come from the wrong direction. This also means that I’m still not looking in the right direction when I cross the street.

• All stores close at 5pm on Sunday and at 6 pm on weekdays.

• I found Redcliffe Way in a rather nice neighborhood. My dopplegänger must live nearby (in New Jersey I live on Redcliffe Avenue in a rather nice neighborhood).

• Extreme politeness from the pizza boy to the border officer continues to perplex me. “Madam” is me.

• And when not formal, everybody loves you here: “What can I do for you, love?” So hard to choose between love and hon/hun!

• You can buy wine from the grocery store. And awareness advertisements encourage you to count the bottles in your recycling bin at the end of the week.

• All pubs are open late and full of joyous people, especially on Friday night.

• Young men drink beer on the street while walking where they have to go.

• Everybody smokes.

• Punk is alive and well.

• Walls are palimpsests on which vivid graffiti magically replace each other every few months. A wall without a mural is a silent, worthless wall.

• Women fashion pure randomness as their clothing style. By way of contrast, most men are stylish (in an old-fashion, classical sense). Men must be new at the fashion game and not yet bored with its arbitrary but strict rules. For the record, I still believe the handbag should match the shoes and follow some color & pattern coordination scheme but I hope not to pass this gene on.

• One doesn’t do laundry at the laundromat but at the launderette. And one doesn’t yield in traffic but gives way. Erasers are, in fact, rubbers. A mysterious new world of linguistic wonders!

• You can actually park your car facing the opposite way along the sidewalk (pavement, if you wish). Such wild unruliness would cost you $50 in the U.S.

• Public libraries allow their patrons a limited time of two hours per day for Internet access.

• People actually hang out in parks. Sunday afternoon everyone seemed to be out. I haven’t seen outdoors gatherings of teenagers in a long time.

• Malls are places strictly for convenient shopping not for entertainment or teenage socialization. They have nothing of the hallucinatory abundance and diversity of stuff and activities going on in the Jersey malls.

• Someone on the street tried to steal a book from L. I was deeply touched. LE: Ironically, the book was Watching the English by Brit anthropologist Kate Fox. It is our official hitchhiker’s guide through the English galaxy 😉

• I found the country where cats live happily ever after (it’s true, they invented the cat). I will like it here.