Tag Archives: Birmingham

Veni, Vidi, Trepidati (I came, I saw, I panicked)


A bit of context please! The following story is based on an “adventure” of sorts I had last year. I might sound unlikely but, yes, it did indeed happen!

Saturday, 26th of October, 4:30

Espresso shots so far: 1, mental awareness: 35% (zombie), panic attacks: 1 (minor)

The special tune in the alarm clock and the obligatory pre-trip nerves appear to be the only reasons I am functioning at this infernal hour. It also appears that caffeine and sugar do not have their fabled WAKE-UP effect on me. Note to self: Do not trust advertisements again.


Stumbled over my backpack twice while looking for my hairbrush. Found it under a pile of clothes awaiting ironing. Dread to think how it ended up there. Was under the impression last night that all I would need in the morning was ready to be packed. I stand corrected.



Mental awareness: 45% (systems booting)

Taxi arrived the moment I opened the door. Thank heavens for good timing, or flat mate would have had my head for making noise so early in the morning. Will probably still do when I return… Had to kick the door close. Coffee still in hand, I had to wrestle a backpack and a drawstring bag onto the backseat and then proceed to make pleasant conversation with driver. Now, why do I have a bad feeling I am missing something important?



Mental awareness: 60% (systems loading)

Arrived at the rail station. First thing I noticed was the train on platform, preparing to leave. Yet, it appears I am about an hour early. That can’t be right. Better check with the nice gentleman by the platform doors after I finish my breakfast.



Mental awareness: 115% (panic attack imminent)

A MISPRINT! THERE WAS A MISPRINT AT THE TICKET OFFICE! I had specifically asked for the train leaving at 7:30, so that I would not have to pull an all-nighter just to be at the train station on time. Now I realize that the printed time on the ticket is 6:30. How could I have possibly missed that? Still, deep breaths, deep breaths now, no reason to freak out just yet. I can change the ticket for one on the very next train to London, no harm done, just a slight delay, right? Right? Oh, who am I kidding? THIS IS TERRIBLE! WHY ME?



Mental awareness: 95% (systems operational), mood: bad

Apparently printing error was my fault. Had to buy whole new set of tickets for part of the journey. Think that I hate the railway system a little more than I used to. Had to waste ten minutes waiting on a queue just to talk to someone. Conversation at the ticket office proceeded as such:

Me: There was a misprint in my ticket. Can I change it for a later one? Preferably one for the very next train to London.

Unsympathetic employer: I am afraid we cannot change your ticket. You will have to buy a new one.

Me (beginning to panic and not really caring about my account balance at this point): Fine! I need to get to Cardiff. It’s an emergency.

Unsymp…You know what? Let’s call him Joe: Well, the next cheapest fare leaves at four in the afternoon.

Me (hyperventilating as next train to London arrives at the platform): No, no! You don’t understand! I need to get to Cardiff as soon as possible! Just give me a ticket for the next train.

Joe: Very well Miss. That’ll be *** pounds.

Me: Gah!


Now sitting on the train on my way to London, I find myself unable to focus on anything other than homicidal thoughts involving printers, credit cards,Ticket office employees and  P. “I can’t access my bank account,” he said! “Can you come give me a hand sis?” he said. “It’s not that far!” he said. Ugh! Deep breaths now! Perhaps some calming music will help.



Mental awareness: 65% (still sleepy), mood: annoyed

Almost in London and struggling to keep myself awake. The effect of the music might have been too calming. Opposite seat has been taken over by someone who can’t possibly be anyone other than a retired Inspector Gadget. He has spread more electronical devices on the table between us than I thought possible and his legs have expanded to the point where I have to practically climb ON my seat to avoid being stepped on. Too tired to do anything more than the occasional glare, to which he is impervious, as he is hidden behind his newspaper. I hope Dr. Claw gets you sometime soon, you leg-space invader!



Mental awareness: 85% (not bad…), mood: cautiously optimistic

Unbelievably made it to London Liverpool Station with time to spare. Was not sad to part with Inspector Gadget. Had brief moment of confusion as I tried to find my way from Liverpool Street to Euston Station. Decided to play it safe and run the distance. In retrospect not a good idea since I was carrying two very awkwardly shaped bags. My mother was right. I need to exercise more… Must have been quite the show, bursting to the platform out of breath, bags nearly flying out of my hands and asking panicked about the train to Cardiff. Somebody must have been having a good laugh at my expense since I had barely caught my breath before the train rolled on the platform….



Mental awareness: @#$%*blue screen of death! @#%$!&*

Birmingham has more than one train stations. BIRMINGHAM HAS FIVE BLOODY TRAIN STATIONS! WHY, UNIVERSE, WHY? Ticket said change trains in Birmingham, so when I picked up the word “Birmingham” over the frustratingly quiet intercom I –of course!- hurried out of the train. Seeing no trains bound to Cardiff, I started worrying but figured two ticket-related mistakes in one day are too much even for me. So I did what every mature person would do in my situation and popped to the closest information desk to ask directions. Turns out I was one stop early and that Birmingham has what appears to be an “international train station” in addition to the one where I was supposed to be at. It’s been a while since I wanted to punch something so much…. Nearly out of options, there is only one thing left to do: hitch a ride to the proper station. I will take it as a sign of mercy that the next train arriving on the platform was going the right way and was full enough for no conductor (no matter how dedicated) to attempt to check for tickets. It took fifteen minutes of doing a sardine impression and nearly twisting my ankle when the driver hit the brakes and I had nothing to hold on to, but I made it. Finally, finally the right station, the right train, the right time and minimal running involved! It’s nearly over! I am almost there! Dare I say it? What could possibly go wrong now?



Mental awareness: 35% (secondary system rebooting)

I…I think I might be lost. There should be a staircase leading to the platform right about here. Instead there is a solid wall. Harry Potter reference? Or did I just breeze by the stairs without seeing them? Whilst looking for them?



Mental awareness: 90% (secondary system reboot successful), mood: pleasantly surprised

What are the chances of sitting next to a friendly guy just because you launched yourself to the first free seat you found? Yes, there are still gleams of sun (figuratively) shining down on me. Fully intended on spending the rest of the journey reading and/or listening to music. Does not seem to be the case now. Guy sitting next to me not only talkative but actually interesting.



Mental awareness: 95% (really good), mood: best so far

Talked through the entire trip to Cardiff with cute guy next to me. Good mood appears to equal good luck since we appeared to be invisible to any and all conductors that passed by us, and I might have my ticket but he apparently lost his somewhere along the way. Topics ranged from travelling to babysitting (the inevitable subject between two people with too many younger cousins, nieces and nephews). Only half an hour left before this journey from hell is over and I must say it looks like it will end on a high note. Now, if only P. would pick up his phone…



Mental awareness: 100% (navigation system at full capacity), mood: stormy

Don’t worry, he said. I’ll pick you up from the station he said. Moral of the story? Never trust your little brother. Having toured the entire station and found P. waiting… nowhere, I finally managed to get him to answer the phone. It appears that it was LoL night, last night and every night, and he had only just woken up. Due to his phone ringing. Never mind. I am a grown woman, fully capable of navigating this city. To which I have never been before. Saddled with bags. With no map. In the pouring rain. I better get same damn good brownie points from the universe out of all this.



Mental awareness 80% (energy levels falling), mood: confused

Men come from the same planet as women, right? And dust is dust no matter how busy you are, right? Right? Took me nearly half an hour to found P.’s accommodation building, no thanks to this country’s inability to signpost the roads properly…. Had to face my immortal enemy: electronically locked doors. Tried to call brother and was promptly informed that I did not “have enough credit to make this call.” Tried following the instructions by the door and put the room’s code (which should have opened the door). Failed spectacularly. Tried again. And again. At this point a security guard came to see what’s the fuss. Explained the situation and was escorted to the reception, while (very understanding) guard went to knock on P.’s door to inform him of my arrival (and most likely wake him up). Popped in thirty seconds later to tell me that there was someone coming. Was that my brother? Lo and behold here was his Royal Lateness in his pajamas and flip-flops, coming to pick me up. Yes, he had only just rolled out of bed.


Walked up the stairs, through a maze of corridors, to his room. Paused nervously at the door.

“You weren’t joking about giving me a hand with cleaning, were you?” he asks. Would have cheerfully slapped him if it weren’t for the fact that I was so tired. As it were I limited myself to a frustrated “Just open the damn door!”


At this point I think a description of what I’m surrounded with is necessary. I will start with the premise that the expression “bombed” is no longer a cliché but very much a feasible reality. The drawers under the bed are hanging half-open and half-empty. The bed itself unmade (of course) and half-covered in posters. The desk practically invisible under the module handouts, empty bags of crisps, laptop gadgets and the occasional bundle of pennies. The kitchenette a qualified hazard zone. Nearly all the clothes stuffed in the laundry bag. Three bags of garbage by the door. Clusters of dust and fluff at the corners. I’m afraid to leave my perch on the bed to check on the bathroom.


Moral of the story? Never, under any circumstances, visit a first-year in university accommodation. The trauma is not worth it.

Spring Trip 2014 – Day 10 – English Version



Right…Last stop before going back to Norwich and all that jazz…. I’m sorry I cannot describe the train ride here but as soon as I stepped on the train it was like somebody flicked a switch. I barely made to two seats and made myself comfortable before falling asleep. Good thing the girl sitting on the other side of the aisle offered to wake me up before we came into the city.

I had a bit of trouble when I arrived at Nottingham, as I was out of change and for some reason there was no cash machine on the station. It took a bit of walking, but mercifully there was a strategic line of taxis opposite of the first cash machine I found, so I didn’t have to walk all the way to the hotel. As I am sure you will have noticed by now, when I was booking hotels I went for “cheap”. Add to that the fact that my current “residence” is near a student neighbourhood and you can see why my expectations were rather low. Imagine therefore my pleasant surprise when I walked in my room. I dare say it is the best of the four! Comfy, spacy and it has a large bathroom. Jackpot!

Not that I stayed there for long…As soon as I was settled I went exploring. The city is well organised, divided in thematic/historical zones with – to my immense happiness – maps and signs everywhere. I went up to the castle (naturally!) and I might have to go back again, as when I arrived there was a tour to the caves below it about to start and, well, I couldn’t miss it! By the time we were out again the clouds that had been chasing me on and off before were completely gone. I am not ashamed to say that I spent the next thirty minutes laying on the grass, sunbathing.

Once I felt my batteries full again, I continued my walk, when another wild stroke of luck appeared. Not only did I find a Greek restaurant, but they also served great souvlaki (hurray!!). I was going to just going to sit for a quick bite but I got to talking with some people there and it was nine by the time we left, All in all I think I like it here. Tomorrow I’ll check the university, and from then on we’ll see.

Spring Trip 2014 – Day 10



Μάλιστα…. Τελευταία στάση πριν γυρίσω Norwich και τα λοιπά και τα λοιπά… Λυπάμαι που δεν μπορώ να περιγράψω την διαδρομή μέχρι το Nottingham αλλά με είχε πιάσει μια απίστευτη χλαπάτσα στο τρένο. Και όταν λέω χλαπάτσα δεν εννοώ νύστα. Εννοώ το πρώτο στάδιο της χειμερίας νάρκης. Χωρίς πλάκα! Είχα πιάσει δυο θέσεις και έριξα τον ύπνο του δικαίου. Πάλι καλά που η κοπέλα που καθόταν από την άλλη πλευρά του διαδρόμου προσφέρθηκε να με ξυπνήσει πριν φτάσουμε στην πόλη.

Είχα ένα μικρό πρόβλημα όταν έφτασα στο Nottingham, δεν είχα λεφτά στο πορτοφόλι και για κάποιο λόγο ο σταθμός δεν είχε ΑΤΜ. Μου πήρε σχεδόν ένα τέταρτο περπάτημα μέχρι να βρω κάπου να σηκώσω λεφτά, αλλά ευτυχώς είχε πιάτσα ταξί ακριβώς απέναντι οπότε γλύτωσα το υπόλοιπο περπάτημα. Όπως πιθανότατα να έχετε συνειδητοποιήσει πλέον, όταν έκλεινα τα ξενοδοχεία με ενδιέφερε κυρίως να είναι φτηνά. Κάτι αυτό, κάτι το γεγονός ότι η τωρινή μου “κατοικία” είναι κοντά σε φοιτητική γειτονιά, δεν περίμενα και πολλά. Τι ευχάριστη έκπληξη λοιπόν με περίμενε όταν μπήκα στο δωμάτιο μου. Τολμώ να πω ότι είναι το καλύτερο από τα τέσσερα! Άνετο, ευρύχωρο και με μεγάλο μπάνιο. Τζακ-ποτ!

Όχι ότι έμεινα και πολύ εκεί…. Μόλις ταχτοποιήθηκα κατέβηκα να τριγυρίσω το κέντρο. Η πόλη είναι πολύ καλά οργανωμένη σε θεματικές/ιστορικές ζώνες και προς μεγάλη μου χαρά έχει χάρτες και ταμπέλες παντού. Ανέβηκα και στο κάστρο (φυσικά!), αλλά μάλλον θα ξαναπάω για να το δω με την ησυχία μου, γιατί λίγο αφότου έφτασα είχε τουρ στις σπηλιές από κάτω του και δεν μπορούσα να το χάσω φυσικά! Όταν η γύρα τελείωσε τα σύννεφα που με ψιλο-κυνηγούσαν πριν είχαν καθαρίσει και δεν ντρέπομαι να παραδεχτώ ότι πέρασα την επόμενη μισή ώρα ξάπλα στο γρασίδι, κάνοντας ηλιοθεραπεία.

Όταν είχα ξαναφουλάρει τις μπαταρίες μου συνέχισα το περπάτημα, και για να δείτε τι θα πει τυχερός άνθρωπος, όχι μόνο έπεσα πάνω σε ταβέρνα, αλλά σέρβιραν και φοβερό σουβλάκι! Σκόπευα να κάτσω για ένα γρήγορο φαί και να γυρίσω στο ξενοδοχείο, αλλά πιάσαμε την κουβέντα με κάτι και πήγε εννιά μέχρι να το διαλύσουμε. Γενικά, νομίζω ότι θα μου αρέσει εδώ. Αύριο θα πάω να τσεκάρω το πανεπιστήμιο και από εκεί βλέποντας και κάνοντας.

Spring Trip 2014 – Day 9 – English Version


The magic red boots strike again! And for those that don’t know, I am talking about a pair of red boots that I bought this autumn. Other than being incredibly cure, I believe they deserve the epithet magic, seeing that every time I wear them my day goes just right.

See what happened today for example: the sun was shining, the air was warm, I made a wonderful walk and found two books I have been searching for some time! Honestly, when I left the hotel this morning I did not mean to go shopping. Three hours later I was standing in front of a four-storey Waterstones, so I just had to check it out. Since I first came to England I’m made it a practice to go through the classics section in every bookshop I visit in an effort to find books from my really-need-to-read-at-some-point-list. One of the hardest to find was the 1001 Arabian Tales. Oh, you can find censored versions and abridged versions and selections, but a decent translation of one of the older Arabic manuscripts? No such luck! Personally, I think the problem is that (like with the Grim Fairy Tales) someone somewhere decided that if the title says (fairy) tales, then the text ought to address children. And I don’t think the misconception was started by Disney… Anyway, the result was that until today I hadn’t been able to find a non-kiddified version of the Arabian Tales. Thank you Penguin Classics!

Other than my campaign through the bookstore shelves (and the mini dance that may or may not accompanied it), I spent most of my day walking around the city centre. I have completely lost count of the days, but I’m pretty sure today was Easter Sunday. Either that or the bell-ringers here are very enthusiastic by the end of Mass. Whichever one is true, today was very musical indeed. After the bells had finished tolling (hahaha, for whom the bell tolls?), the streets were dotted with street performers determined to take advantage of the good weather. I’m not complaining. Other than the fact that most of those I heard were quite talented, the magic boots did their thing and I got my monthly dose of compliments. And before anyone asks, no, compliments by family members don’t count. I mean yeah, of course they count! Just under a different category.

Tomorrow I’m heading for Nottingham, my last stop for this trip before heading back to Norwich (and my revisions for the exams). I’m not sure what to expect (other than an impossible amount of references to Robin Hood) but I can’t wait to find out. Until then, goodnight and good internet surfing!

Spring Trip 2014 – Day 9


Τα μαγικά κόκκινα μποτάκια ξαναχτύπησαν! Και για όσους δεν ξέρουν, πρόκειται για ένα ζευγάρι κόκκινες μπότες που αγόρασα το φθινόπωρο. Εκτός από το γεγονός ότι είναι σκέτη γλύκα, θεωρώ ότι τους αξίζει ο τίτλος μαγικές μιας και κάθε φορά που τις βάζω η μέρα μου είναι τέλεια.

Δείτε τι έγινε σήμερα για παράδειγμα: ο ήλιος έλαμπε, είχε ζέστη, έκανα μια πολύ ευχάριστη βόλτα και βρήκα δυο βιβλία που έψαχνα εδώ και καιρό! Ειλικρινά, δεν σκόπευα να πάω για ψώνια όταν έφυγα από το ξενοδοχείο το πρωί. Αλλά όταν τρεις ώρες αργότερα βρέθηκα μπροστά σε ένα τετραώροφο Waterstones, ε έπρεπε να το τσεκάρω. Από τότε που ήρθα στην Αγγλία, κάθε φορά που επισκέπτομαι ένα βιβλιοπωλείο, φροντίζω να τσεκάρω τα ράφια με τα λεγόμενα κλασσικά έργα, με την ελπίδα ότι θα βρω κάποιον τίτλο από την λίστα-με-βιβλία-που-πρέπει-να-διαβάσω-σε-κάποια-φάση. Ένα από τα πιο δύσκολα να βρω ήταν οι Χίλιες και Μια Νύχτες. Ω, μπορείς να βρεις λογοκριμένες ή/και συμπυκνωμένες εκδοχές, αλλά μια αξιοπρεπείς μεταφράσεις του αρχικού χειρόγραφου; Που τέτοια τύχη! Προσωπικά θεωρώ ότι το πρόβλημα είναι πως (όπως και με τα παραμύθια των Αδερφών Γκριμ και του Περώ) κάποιος, κάποτε αποφάσισε ότι αν ο τίτλος του κειμένου αναφέρεται σε παραμύθια, τότε το κείμενο απευθύνεται σε παιδιά. Και δεν νομίζω ότι το πρόβλημα ξεκίνησε με τον Ντίσνεϋ… Το αποτέλεσμα ήταν ότι μέχρι σήμερα δεν είχα καταφέρει να βρω πουθενά τις Χίλιες και Μία Νύχτες σε κάποια μη-παιδική εκδοχή. Σας ευχαριστώ εκδόσεις Penguin!

Πέρα από αυτήν την εξόρμηση στα ράφια του βιβλιοπωλείου (και το μίνι χορευτικό που ίσως να έκανα, ίσως και να μην έκανα από την χαρά μου) πέρασα το μεγαλύτερο μέρος της μέρας μου τριγυρνώντας στο κέντρο. Έχω χάσει τις μέρες εντελώς, αλλά νομίζω ότι σήμερα ήταν Κυριακή του Πάσχα. Ή αυτό ή οι κωδωνοκρούστες εδώ πέρα είναι πολύ ορεξάτοι στο τέλος της λειτουργίας. Ότι από τα δύο και αν ισχύει, σήμερα είχε παντού μουσική. Αφότου σταμάτησαν οι καμπάνες (χεχεχε, για ποιον χτυπάει η καμπάνα;) κάθε δρόμος και παράδρομος είχε τουλάχιστον ένα μουσικό που αποφάσισε να εκμεταλλευτεί τον καλό καιρό και να δώσει παράσταση. Δεν παραπονιέμαι. Πέρα από το γεγονός ότι οι περισσότεροι ήταν τουλάχιστον αρκετά ταλαντούχοι ώστε να μην φαλτσάρουν, οι μαγικές μπότες έκαναν το θαύμα τους και πήρα την μηνιαία μου δόση από κομπλιμέντα. Και πριν μιλήσει κανείς, δεν μετράει για κομπλιμέντο αν σου το πει συγγενείς. Δηλαδή μετράει, αλλά θα το βάλω σε άλλη κατηγορία.

Αύριο φεύγω για Nottingham, τον τελευταίο σταθμό του ταξιδιού μου πριν γυρίσω στο Norwich (και τις επαναλήψεις για την εξεταστική). Δεν είμαι σίγουρη τι να περιμένω (εκτός από πάμπολλες αναφορές στον Ρομπέν των Δασών) αλλά δεν βλέπω την ώρα! Μέχρι τότε, καληνύχτα και καλό σερφάρισμα.

Spring Trip 2014 – Day 8 – English Version


Ha! Would you look at that! Birmingham is actually growing on me. Can’t say the same for the industrial architecture, but at least the city is honest about its character. Does that make sense? I’m not sure. I think what I’m trying to say is that I feel more comfortable in cities whose history I can read on the buildings and the roads and the way the neighbourhoods are arranged. I still feel a little uncomfortable, but that’s probably because I’m used to a town that I can cross in less than two hours.

I was thinking earlier, as I was crossing the (large and very well-kept) campus, that if York seems infused with legends and medieval tales, and the odd ghost, then Birmingham is the very definition of steampunk. Old and new twisted together, with the traces of the Industrial Revolution visible even in the newest buildings. But at the same time there are gardens and parks full of flowers and as I was walking to the university I realised that if I ever write a utopian or even dystopian tale then Birmingham would be morbidly appropriate as the setting.

Speaking of walking… My legs are ready to pack and leave. I’m not kidding, poor things, they suffered today! Eight miles to walk to and fro the campus, plus my exploration there, plus a lengthy wondering to the local shopping complex…Honestly how I made it back to the hotel, I have no idea. And this paragraph is way off topic. I wanted to speak (write?) about the university. I was not certain on what to expect. Whoever wrote the prospectus was a Master of bland writing. Turns out the campus is very well taken care off and way larger than I thought. They must have always had a large intake of students, even the oldest buildings are tall, with plenty of floors and shaped to resemble rectangulars. The areas around the halls of residence are more diverse, mostly thanks to the gardens surrounding them.

It’s a pity I wasn’t able to get my hands on a map of the city. I’m sure there are some pretty awesome nooks and crannies here and there… Still, can’t be helped. Who knows, in two years time I may be here and then I’ll have all the time to go through every little alley and passageway with a toothcomb if I feel like it.

Spring Trip 2014 – Day 8


Χα! Κοίτα να δεις! Το Birmingham μου ψιλοαρέσει τελικά. Δεν μπορώ να πω ότι η βιομηχανική αρχιτεκτονική είναι η αγαπημένη μου, αλλά τουλάχιστον η πόλη είναι ειλικρινής όσον αφορά τον χαρακτήρα της. Βγάζει νόημα αυτό; Δεν είμαι σίγουρη. Νομίζω ότι αυτό που προσπαθώ να πω είναι ότι νιώθω πιο άνετα σε πόλεις των οποίων την ιστορία μπορώ να διαβάσω στα κτίρια, τους δρόμους και τον τρόπο με τον οποίο οι γειτονιές είναι οργανωμένες. Εξακολουθώ να νιώθω άβολα, άλλα αυτό έχει περισσότερο να κάνει με το γεγονός ότι έχω συνηθίσει σε πόλεις που μπορώ να διασχίσω σε δυο ώρες το πολύ.

Σκεφτόμουνα νωρίτερα, καθώς τριγύριζα το (τεράστιο και εξαιρετικά προσεγμένο) campus, ότι αν το York μοιάζει διάχυτο με θρύλους και μεσαιωνικές ιστορίες, το Birmingham είναι ο ορισμός του steampunk. Παλιό και καινούργιο πλεγμένα και τα ίχνη της βιομηχανικής επανάστασης παντού. Αλλά παράλληλα υπάρχουν κήποι και πάρκα γεμάτα λουλούδια και καθώς περπατούσα προς το πανεπιστήμιο συνειδητοποίησα ότι αν ποτέ γράψω μια ιστορία με υπόβαθρο είτε μια ουτοπία είτε μια δυστοπία, το Birmingham θα ταίριαζε εξαιρετικά.

Μιας και μιλάμε για περπάτημα… Τα πόδια μου είναι έτοιμα να σηκωθούν να φύγουν. Δεν κάνω πλάκα, τα ταλαίπωρα υπέφεραν σήμερα. Οκτώ μίλια το πήγαινε-έλα για το πανεπιστήμιο, συν την εξερεύνηση εκεί, συν το τεράστιο εμπορικό κέντρο που τριγύρισα το απόγευμα… Ειλικρινά απορώ πως κατάφερα να φτάσω στο ξενοδοχείο… Και αυτή η παράγραφος πήγε άλλα-ντάλα. Ήθελα να μιλήσω (γράψω;) για το πανεπιστήμιο. Δεν ήμουν σίγουρη για το τι να περιμένω, το προσπέκτους τους ήταν γενικευμένο σε βαθμό δακρίων. Τελικά το ίδιο το campus είναι πολύ προσεγμένο. Το πανεπιστήμιο πρέπει να είναι πολύ μεγαλύτερο απ’ότι υπολόγιζα, μπορούσες να το δεις στα κτίρια. Ψηλά, με μπόλικους ορόφους και χτισμένα κυρίως σαν ορθογώνια. Οι περιοχές με τους κοιτώνες έχουν μεγαλύτερη ποικιλία εμφανισιακά, κυρίως λόγω των κήπων που τριγυρίζουν τα σπίτια.

Είναι κρίμα μόνο που δεν έχω καταφέρει να βρω κανένα χάρτη της πόλης. Είμαι σίγουρη ότι υπάρχουν μερικές πολύ ενδιαφέρουσες γειτονιές εδώ τριγύρω, αλλά… Ε, τι να κάνουμε; Θα μου δώσει κάτι να κάνω αν τελικά καταλήξω εδώ μέσα στα επόμενα δυο χρόνια.

Spring Trip 2014 – Day 7 – English Version


Birmingham is large. And a bit scary. I hadn’t realised how unused I had become of large cities until I wandered around here for a bit. And yeah my hotel is not exactly in the best of neighbourhoods (I was looking for cheap, bog it!), but I’ve vet to see shady guys is shadow corners or anything like that. It might be the tall buildings, the wide roads and the typical British inability to signpost properly. However, from what little I’ve seen, the city looks interesting and I am genially looking forward to exploring it tomorrow.

My day was overall pretty good. It wasn’t cold, I discovered that Bangor has a pretty cool open air market on Fridays, and best of the best? I did not have to change any trains all the way to Birmingham! Yippee! We crossed through a pretty big chunk of Wales, and honestly at times it felt like the train was passing through a commercial made by the Ministry of Tourism. It had it all: the green hills dotted with sheep, stone bridges, (clean) beaches, the occasional castle. Unfortunately I was too sleepy to take any decent pictures, but then again, that’s what Google’s for!

When I arrived at Birmingham I realised that my mobile internet was on vacation. For some reason (I blame hunger and tiredness) this sounded more like adventure potential than an inconvenience. So I found the nearest map, copied down directions –quite studiously is I say so myself- and started walking. Unfortunately I forgot I was in England. And no offense to the lovely British folk reading this but putting a discreet, out of the way sign with the street’s name at the beginning of it is not helpful. Not really. I’d say it’s because everyone here seems to have a GPS but once upon a short time ago that was not the case. Anyway I got a bit lost, and lucky me, it was around the time that schools were letting out, so I chanced upon a mum and her two kids, who not only knew where my hotel is, she also offered to take me there since it was on her way. Wow, that’s pretty awesome chances, you gotta admit!

The hotel is structured more like a motel, nothing fascinating but! THE BED IS HUGE! As in movie-like, illogically-tall, fluffy-as-a-cloud huge. I truly don’t know how I’ll manage to get up in the morning…

As I re-read what I’ve written so fat, I get the impression it is slightly all over the place. Can’t be helped I suppose. Besides, when James Joyce wrote whatever passed through his head, they called it literature. Who knows, maybe in 80 years some poor student will be slaving over my writing. If that is the case, I only have one thing to say: good luck buddy!

Spring Trip 2014 – Day 7


Το Birmingham είναι μεγάλο. Και λίγο τρομακτικό. Δεν είχα συνειδητοποιήσει πόσο έχω ξεσυνηθήσει τις μεγάλες πόλεις μέχρι που τριγύρησα λίγο εδώ. Και ναι, παραδέχομαι ότι το ξενοδοχείο δεν είναι και στην πιο προσεγμένη γειτονιά (έξαχνα κάτι φτηνό, να πάρει!), αλλά δεν είναι ότι έχει απειλητικούς τύπους σε γωνίες ή τίποτα τέτοιο. Μάλλον φταίνε τα ψηλά κτίρια, οι φαρδιοί δρόμοι και η τυπικά Βρετανική ανικανότητα να βάλουν εμφανείς ταμπέλες στους δρόμους. Από το πολύ λίγο που έχω δει από την πόλη, φαίνεται ενδιαφέρουσα, και ειλικρινά ανυπομονώ να την εξερευνήσω αύριο.

H μέρα μου ήταν σε γενικές γραμμές καλή. Δεν έκανε κρύο, είχε ήλιο, ανακάληψα ότι το Bangor έχει μια εξαιρετική λαϊκή αγορά τις Παρασκεύες, και το καλύτερο; Δεν χρειαζόταν να αλλάξω τρένα για να φτάσω Birmingham! Γιούπι! Διασχίσαμε ένα αξιοπρεπές κομμάτι της Ουαλίας, και κατά καιρούς ήταν λες και το τρένο διέσχιζε ένα σποτάκι φτιαγμένο από το Υπουργείο Τουρισμού. Το πακέτο τα είχε όλα: πράσινες πλαγιές με προβατάκια, πέτρινες γέφυρες, (καθαρές) ακρογυαλιές, κανένα κάστρο εδώ κι εκεί. Δυστυχώς ήμουν πολύ νυσταγμένη για να βγάλω φωτογραφίες, αλλά αν είστε πραγματικά περίεργοι… γι’αυτό υπάρχει το Google!

Όταν έφτασα στο Birmingham συνειδιτοποίησα ότι το ίντερνετ στο κινητό μου δεν δούλευε. Για κάποιο λόγο (μάλλον ένας συνδιασμός πείνας και κούρασης) αύτο μου φάνηκε περισσότερο σαν πιθανότητα για περιπέτεια παρά μια ενόχληση. Βρήκα λοιπόν το κοντινότερο χάρτη, σημείωσα την αλλλουχία δρόμων μέχρι το ξενοδοχείο, και το έριξα στο περπάτημα. Ξέχασα όμως ότι είμαι στην Αγγλία. Και χωρίς παρεξήγηση, αλλά εδώ πέρα βάζουνε ταμπέλες με τα ονόματα των δρόμων μόνο στην αρχή των δρόμων, και αυτό αν είσαι τυχερός. Θα έλεγα ότι είναι επιδή εδώ όλοι έχουν GPS αλλά μια φορά και ένα καιρό πρόσφατα κανείς δεν είχε αυτά τα εκνευριστικά κολοκύθεια μέσα στο αμάξι του. Αναπόφευκτα ψιλοχάθηκα, αλλά ευτυχώς για μένα, τα σχολεία είχαν μόλις σχολάσει και πέτυχα μια μαμά με δυο πιτσιρίκια που όχι μόνο ήξερε που ήταν το ξενοδοχείο, αλλά προσφέρθηκε να με πάει ως εκεί μιας και ήταν στον δρόμο της. Αυτό θα πει τύχη!

Το ξενοδοχείο είναι οργανωμένο σαν μοτέλ, τίποτα το συνταρακτικό, αλλά! ΤΟ ΚΡΕΒΑΤΙ ΕΙΝΑΙ ΤΕΡΑΣΤΙΟ! Ξέρετε πως είναι στις ταινείες που τα ξενοδοχεία έχουν πάντα αυτά τα ψηλά ημίδιπλα κρεβάτια που δεν θες να σηκωθείς από αυτά; Κάτι τέτοιο. Δεν θα θέλω να ξεκολλήσω το πρωί…

Καθώς ξαναδιαβάζω τι έχω γράψει μέχρι τώρα, έχω την εντύπωση ότι είναι λίγο αλλού κι εκεί και παραπέρα. Εεεε, τι να κάνουμε. Όταν ο James Joyce έγραφε ό,τι του κατέβαινε το αποκάλεσαν λογοτεχνία. Ποιος ξέρει, σε 80 χρόνια κάποιος ταλαίπορος μαθητής θα παλεύει να αναλύσει τα δικά μου κείμενα. Ένα έχω να πω: καλή τύχη φιλαράκο!