We had been getting so excited to leave England, it had been 6 months together here and NINE for me! I never thought I would have been back in England for that long, and sometimes it was hard for me to be back in ‘me ol home town’. When you are travelling - you are discovering, your senses and mind are open to new things, new tastes, new cites, new languages. When you are at home you have the stuff that you know so well, the people, the places the language. You are in a rested and secure state of mind rather than the exciting adrenaline rush of being somewhere new, with new people to meet and new buskers and busking spots.
When I first got back from Argentina I spent a month between Amsterdam and Berlin working the festivals, sleeping the streets, busking and partying but it was torture without Niz. When May and June had arrived in Argentina I knew the sun would be out, the cities will be buzzing and life would be returning to everything. I wanted to get back there, and I got there, but without Niz it felt wrong and lonely. I headed back to Liverpool, lived at my mums and busked every day to save as much money for Niz’s ticket. All my desires of being in Europe busking in the sun were empty without Niz with me. It took 2 months to get the ticket and another month till she arrived.
Those 6 months passed and we got through it, it was a hard test for us, me being back at home, the cold streets. But we did it and now our adventure in Europe could begin together! The day we were leaving we played a little gig at the very special Back Bone night, which is like a little taste of Amsterdam in Liverpool. With all our stuff (2 big suitcases, guitar, 2 violins, amp and stands) we made our way to the Caledonia for a few real ales before our 2am bus to London. I love that feeling! When everything you own is being pushed, pulled or carried with you every step of the way and you are on the bus for up to 12 hours. I think that’s why I like taking the Megabus, because it makes me feel like I am travelling far away from home! 1 hour on the plane is nothing, 2 days and 3 different busses makes you feel like never going back.
We got on the bus and after the nights consumption, we slept easily but still always painfully and arrived in London to just see the city waking up. We had a few missions when we got there. I love calling things you have to do ‘missions’ it suits the exciting and challenged mentality you are in. Our main mission was to sell Nizha’s old violin and then get to her friends in the evening. We found a coffee house that had the wifi and I found the location of a cash converters that was a few miles away. I phone them up and they tell me that I need a letter with my address on it, I only had my passport but realised I could print a bank statement from online.
Niz waited in the horrifically noisy Victoria Station with an Orwellian female voice spitting orders and Newspeak on a loop while I found a place that printed. I printed our tickets and the statement then needed to find a way to get to Elephant and Castle tube station. Niz’s Oyster card was minus in money and I stuck a tenner on it in the hope it would get me there. The money was flying out of our pockets, coffee, printing, oyster cards, breakfast everything was chipping away at our hard earned pounds.
I arrive at this tube station and walk for about 40 minutes through a very poor area. There was an old woman with intense staring eyes holding a cup for change pushing it in your face saying ‘mama, mama help me’. I chucked her 10p and kept walking, the market aromas and sounds all changing every few steps. I arrive at the Cash Converters and wait in a long line of people selling Ipads, Hifi’s and Phones. I wait nervously in the hope that they buy it after the journey I had been on to get here. Things are always harder, heavier and slower after a night on the Megabus Hotel. I smile at the Slovak looking girl behind the counter and watch her colleagues carry all the goods they buy for buttons to a big dark room behind a locked door. ‘I’m selling this violin’ I say, ‘it did us great on our album we made in the desert!’ Without a word or a glance she picks up the violin and types the serial number into the computer. After it loads she looks at me and asks me how much I want. ‘A hundred would be great I said’. She says that brand new they are going for 240...I smile but try not to look too shocked, and then with a few more taps on her keyboard she says that second hand they are going for 60. She tilts the screen to show and say that mine in particular is going for 53. I say ‘Go on, how much will you give me then?’ She softens her eyes and says ‘40’. I tell her she has a deal and sign my name thankful that she even took it.
I take the long walk to the station again, but this time stopping for what was a lovely egg and bacon butty from a greasy cafe. I was so tired and getting irritated by London, the butty helped a fair bit. After 3 hours I get back to Niz who has been waiting in a Mcdonalds at the station, falling asleep and being woken by the police telling her to be careful and watch her stuff. We are both really tired and feeling a little drained now. There was still no word from her friend who we were staying with that night so we made our way to the internet at the coffee shop, with one of the main missions complete.
We make contact with her friend and get the directions. You can’t pay on the busses with money anymore, you need an Oyster card. I queue for an hour in a slow moving and sighing line of tourists with Mrs Newspeak on a loop right down my ear. There are 2 tills out of the 5 open and people are getting irritated more and more. The balding men behind the glass sneer and talk patronisingly to the sad eyed Italian family who have to spend 125 pound on a day or two of tube travel. I finally get to the till and it takes me seconds. A little angry and irritated I head back to Niz.
The sad thing was, we didn’t even need that Oyster card. It is easy to bunk on the busses! Subways no but busses yes. Another little jab from a London I was becoming sick of. We find her friends stop in Hackney and walk to her place. She is a lovely girl, an Argentinean Tango Singer Songwriter called Corina Piatti. We spent a nice few hours of chatting and drinking mate. She was going to spend the evening out so she gave us her bed for the night and we get ready to sleep Horizontal for the first time in 2 days. I head out to get us some food, and there was a very nice vibe to the city. When you are out of that noisy busy and bustling centre it’s a different place, and walking past all the multi cultural shops to find a nice Indian - a little bit of love came over for me for London, which started to heal the days inflictions.
We set the Alarm for 4 am and slept restfully cuddled together between the hot water bottle and our tired legs. After a short warm dreamy sleep the alarm buzzes and we pick ourselves out of bed to get all packed and ready to leave again. It is an hour to the centre and our bus leaves at 7. We bunk the bus and sell our Oyster cards to a couple of Chinese tourists and start the 12 hour journey out of England and into AMSTERDAM!