In which Paul prepares to travel to London by coach, and expresses regret at the consequences of recent lifestyle choices

Paul Holder, July 11 at 9:25pm

Hey,

Just a quick shout to say thank you to all of you again for all the support, be it monetary, wisdom or just a hearty back pat. I leave for London in a few hours. Staying overnight then Eurostar first thing Tuesday. I don’t know if spending two days at a beer festival, refusing to sleep and living off a diet of rum and bad pork was the best way to go about preparing, but nonetheless that is what happened and now I am on the cusp and will just have to go with what I have. So that’s a heavy rucksack and a hangover.
Please don’t make me do this a thousand times:

http://www.charitygiving.co.uk/paulholder

£630 so far, which is 25.2%. Good work. Please give what you can, else I shall throw myself into a ravine in despair.
Anyway, thank you and take good care of yourselves. Everything has been amazing and I wouldn’t change a thing about anything that has happened, or is about to happen.
I will be in touch when my overinflated ego tells me that you are missing me too damn much.

Love and Wonder

Paul xxx

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In which Paul readies himself for the trip, and ties up some loose ends

Paul Holder, July 6 at 7:47pm

Hey y’all,

I’m back in Taunton now, preparing for the trip and also my local beer festival this coming weekend. I had an amazing last couple of days in Cardiff, and want to say a big thank you to those who made it so. Tonight I will be spending my first night in my new tent…in my parents’ back garden. Tomorrow night going to take it up to the Quantocks near where my folks live to break it in proper in the wild.
I’d like to say a massive thank you to all of those who have already donated to the Marine Conservation Society via my charity giving page. To those of you who have of yet not done so, pooh pooh. Get on it

http://www.charitygiving.co.uk/paulholder

Also, I would like to thank everyone for the support and encouragement you have given. It may sound like a cliche to say that it really boosts my determination, but then I spin cliches like a lazy susan. I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean.
Finally, if anyone knows of a way I can attach some kind of map to the facebook group, so that I can show where I’ve been, please lemme know.
Tomorrow’s another busy day of route planning, flip flop purchasing, and book selecting, so I must away to the garden. Today I learnt that it is worth simultaneously buying half a dozen packs of laxatives and half a dozen packs of Immodium in Boots just to see the look on the counter girl’s face after declaring that “my bottom gets confused”.

Take care

Paul x

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English Paul’s Transcendental Trans-European Trek

My dear and handsome friend English Paul has recently taken it upon himself to journey across the Dark Continent, Europe, by foot—an arduous and thoroughly badass 1000 mile trek from La Rochelle, France, to Prague, Czech Republic, in about two and a half months. This is awesome, needless to say, and is not merely the internal journey of self-discovery the way you might think. Paul is accepting donations (here) on behalf of the Marine Conservation Society, a UK-based charity for the protection of its shores and wildlife.

From Paul’s donation site:

“It would greatly warm my belly if you would consider sponsoring me in this undertaking. It doesn’t need to be much; as little as £10 will go a long long way towards protecting our coastal ecosystems, cleaning up our beaches, and encouraging more sensible fishing practices. I will be doing somewhere between 1000-1200 miles, so think of it as approximately £1 per 100 miles, or about 5pence per blister! Needless to say, if you want to give more then that is most welcome.”

Hear, here. This is a tremendous undertaking, a throwback to the quests of the Icelandic Sagas,  the search for the Holy Grail, the Beat Generation’s exploration of the self in the context of one’s milieu. Please join The Anti Tourist as we support Paul’s efforts wholeheartedly.

At the time of this writing, Paul has so far “managed to cross France in 30 days, covering 555.82 miles. Mental.” He is documenting this on Facebook, mainly through letters written periodically to members of the Facebook Group founded for this purpose. He gave me permission to post his updates on The Anti Tourist; they will be updated here as soon as he sends them out. They will appear exactly as he writes them. He is a fantastic writer and I have thus far enjoyed his updates, even though I am kicking myself for not accepting his invitation to join him.

Learn more about the Marine Conservation Society.

Give donations here.

So far:

In which Paul readies himself for the trip, and ties up some loose ends

In which Paul prepares to travel to London by coach, and expresses regret at the consequences of recent lifestyle choices

In which Paul, having safely arrived in France, embarks on the physical portion of this largely introspective journey in search of the Self; and where he discusses injuries and physical malady whilst the French, as they are wont, celebrate Bastille Day

In which the tired and footsore English Paul reaches Limoges, France, and expostulates on the value dichotomy of physical stress

In which half of France is conquered, though not without sacrifice

In which the weltschmerz is more keenly felt than usual, where modern alienation becomes mere kitsch and loneliness is just a way of being, and where majesty crumbles

In which a short break in the relentless march toward the Bohemian lands allows Paul to take in a bit of sport, and to convalesce slightly from physical and spiritual maladies

In which the varied topography of mountainous Switzerland aptly mirrors the oscillating emotional environment; and in which Paul is joined by a dear friend

By: Ben Britz

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My dear and handsome friend English Paul has recently taken it upon himself to journey across the Dark Continent, Europe, by foot—an arduous and thoroughly badass 1000 mile trek from La Rochelle, France, to Prague, Czech Republic, in about two and a half months. This is awesome, needless to say, and is not merely the internal journey of self-discovery the way you might think. Paul is accepting donations (here) on behalf of the Marine Conservation Society, a UK-based charity for the protection of its shores and wildlife.

From Paul’s donation site:

It would greatly warm my belly if you would consider sponsoring me in this undertaking. It doesn’t need to be much; as little as £10 will go a long long way towards protecting our coastal ecosystems, cleaning up our beaches, and encouraging more sensible fishing practices. I will be doing somewhere between 1000-1200 miles, so think of it as approximately £1 per 100 miles, or about 5pence per blister! Needless to say, if you want to give more then that is most welcome.

Hear, here. This is a tremendous undertaking, a throwback to the quests of the Icelandic Sagas,  the search for the Holy Grail, the Beat Generation’s exploration of the self in the context of one’s milieu. Please join The Anti Tourist as we support Paul’s efforts wholeheartedly.

At the time of this writing, Paul has so far “managed to cross France in 30 days, covering 555.82 miles. Mental.” He is documenting this on Facebook, mainly through letters written periodically to members of the Facebook Group founded for this purpose. He gave me permission to post his updates on The Anti Tourist; they will be updated here as soon as he sends them out. They will appear exactly as he writes them. He is a fantastic writer and I have thus far enjoyed his updates, even though I am kicking myself for not accepting his invitation to join him.

Learn more about the Marine Conservation Society.

Give donations here.

So far:

It’s Hard To Find A Good Record Store These Days From What I Hear: Rough Trade, London.

Most people who have spent any part of their teenage years invested in a subculture have a soft-place in their heart for the mythology of record stores. I say mythology because, I, like most of my peers, have pursued the love for the grime of alternative music through compact discs, iPods, and the internet, all while record stores become increasingly nonexistent.

When I walked into Rough Trade East in the Brick Lane in London, I felt like I was getting a true sense of what Record Stores originally embodied. In this old warehouse, which was probably once a textile factory, there are old video games, a live band, cute girls who grew up listening to Millencolin running the counter, coffee, comics, skateboards, and immense amounts of music. I felt like I was seeing an endangered species in the wilderness.

Now I don’t want to point a finger at the internet since I love it like a firstborn son, but the new venues for consuming music can be found almost exclusively online, where the more awesome amenities of a place like Rough Trade aren’t technologically possible. The Internet does provide the possible cute alternative looking girls to flirt with, but this could also be just a clever disguise for a retired vacuum cleaner salesman from Wisconsin. Rough Trade may be a beacon for kids with colorful shoes and skinny jeans, but so is MySpace, so as we approach a time where the easiest way to consume music is by not even leaving your house, Rough Trade and it’s cohorts seem to be defying odds.

Since the beginning of this little article, I’ve been trying to think of a proper analogy for what record stores seem to represent in a time when not only do most people not even own record players, but could get everything they could possibly want or need online. I came up with two. The first analogy involves animatronix. I’m not going to tell you about this one because I have a word limit and the whole explanation is confusing and not all that accurate of an analogy. The second analogy about how I feel about record stores and specifically Rough Trade in London (which, if you’ve understandably forgotten, is the point of this article) involves the future and flying cars; a promise we’re yet to receive.

Let’s say that it’s the year 2110, and we’re about 20 years into the age of flying cars, and each of them are filled with toys and assets far more interesting than any Philip K. Dick novel could have ever predicted. The fuel sources are very tiny nuclear reactors. The cabins have built in teleportation devices, oxygen chambers, and full four-dimensional movement (the fourth dimension being time of course). Since robots will be a common tool at this point, all cars will be equipped with a talking GPS robot that can and will have he ability to hold elaborate conversations with you when you are on long road trips. These cars will be staggering in their epic supremacy. Unfortunately, because the world’s kings are worried about the possibilities of having a nuclear reactor as the main fuel source inside the new flying automobiles, in the future, no one really owns their cars, but rather checks them out online and has them delivered. Either you drive it yourself to wherever it is that you are going, or the pilot who brought you the car acts as your chauffeur and takes you where you need to go. It’s a complicated system that I can’t be bothered describing to you because of the word limit.

Despite the fact that the new flying cars are no longer considered the wave of the future, but rather the standard, there are still small boutique car dealerships that lend out cars from the past century. These cars are about the same price as the flying cars (if not more), and are still required to be driven on highways, which at this point, aren’t in great shape since there is no longer a necessity to constantly repave them. Also, you still need a proper land-automobile driving license, which you can only find on eBay or at local flea markets and salvation armies. Yet, interesting youth hang out at these land-car boutiques and talk over coffee about anarchy, nihilism, and how the best car that Chevrolet ever produced was the 1973 El Caminos even though it was more experimental than the 1970 Chevelle.

The flying cars are clearly the easiest and most functional means of getting from A to B quickly, but the old Camrys that you can rent from Carl’s Land-Car Emporium and Café down the street from the church of Kraftwerk have character, which sometimes means more than the efficiency and ease of the flying cars. After all, you don’t see kids with skinny jeans and glow in the dark David bowie shirts hanging out at the flying car dealerships like you do at the Carl’s, and it’s certain that you won’t be able to flirt with the cute punk rock girl from behind the counter, since only robots hang out at the flying car drop off. Even though it’s the future and robots will have been liberated, it will still be a little weird and socially unacceptable to flirt with them.

Just in case you missed it, flying cars are like MP3’s and Carl’s Land-Car Emporium and Café is like Rough Trade East in London.

Rough Trade is not only a cool store for buying music and drinking tea, but is also an important part of a culture that could be slipping away with the arrival of the digital age. Granted, the digital age may not actually be killing anything and in some ways, making the scene better, but there’s no doubt that technology makes it more complicated. Sometimes, it just feels better to do it the simple way. It can get exhausting having to always adjust to the times. Sometimes it is just so much more exciting hearing the sound of a faulty and rusted engine instead of a perfect platinum body as it flies four dimensionally. Sometimes it feels better to have to look at every individual album as you thumb through artists alphabetically.

Rough Trade East

‘Dray Walk’

Old Truman Brewery

91 Brick Lane
London

E1 6QL
T: 0207 392 7788

By: Ben Majoy

Ambassadors: The Place To Stay In King’s Cross, London.

On a very serious mission to avoid American hotel chains and yet experience a massive hotel in London, I was drawn to Ambassadors after some research. Although websites can often lead you astray (of course with the only exception being this website), Ambassadors’ self-description was right on. Tucked away right next to St. Pancreas church off of the busy King’s Cross underground stop, the hotel is in a great location. The British Museum, The British Library, Regency Park, and plenty of small restaurants and bars decorate the nearby streets.

The hotel is top-notch and you know this right away when you walk in sporting ragged jeans and huge sunglasses. Thankfully, for all of us in the rebellious crowd of adults who refuse to grow up in the traditional sense, the sharply dressed suit-wearing front desk workers don’t judge you…not at least to your face. A basket of green aples, which I believe are inherently superior to red apples, sit on the front desk’s counter for the taking and the desk is also a convenient place to store your luggage should you arrive far too early for check-in.

My room was just as the website described it: equipped with a full bed, flat-screen tv, excellent mineral water, windows that actually open, free wi-fi, a vanity, a hair dryer, a bathrobe and slippers, and a top of the line translucently teal bathroom. The tub is great and the water stays warm. The toiletries are above and beyond your standard toiletries–even including a French face cream. The gym is clean and fully functional (unlike other hotel gyms I’ve attempted to work out in, which shall remain nameless as per my intent to enhance instead of damage my own karma).

If you want a safe bet that will make you feel right at home with all basic American ammenities, and more, consider Ambassadors Bloomsbury a recommendation from me to you. Although I didn’t get a chance to stay at any of their other Ambassadors locations, you should be made aware of the fact that there are multiple Ambassadors hotels throughout London.

By: Elizabeth Seward

A Posh London Hotel: Montagu Place

If I could only use one word to decribe Montagu Place, it would be sexy. If I could use two words, they would be sexy and posh. With only 16 rooms in the townhouse hotel, the place still manages to operate as smoothly as a massive 5 star hotel. Thoroughly attentive staff greet you at the front desk, which is also a full bar, and even insist on taking your luggage all the way up to the top floor for you.

The kind of room you get at Montagu Place depends on your mood. Fancy, Comfy, and Swanky are all aptly given room descriptions that you can choose from at Montagu. Although all three room types piqued my interest; fancy is what I got. And fancy it was. With a flat screen television, a massive bed with black velvet sheets, a classy bathroom, and cool modern furniture, it seems as though you get what you ask for at this place.

A plush meeting area downstairs provides free wi-fi and a view onto the quaint Portman Street. Just blocks away is the famous Oxford Street, with every kind of shopping you can imagine. Crisp and bustling, I would compare the area to New York’s midtown. It’s perfect for business, high-brow leisure, and meeting Slovakians who want to buy your drinks all night long.

By: Elizabeth Seward

Ossian Guest House: A Charming Bed and Breakfast

There are all kinds of places to stay in London. There are hostels, bed and breakfasts, lush and posh sprawling hotels, the floors and beds of strangers you meet at the bar, and with your Auntie Bernadette’s family–your only claim to English blood. You can never be too sure what you’ll get when casting judgment straight from a website’s impression, so you might as well take my so-honest-it-hurts opinion to heart and stay in one of these three places, depending on what you’re going for.

THE CHARMING BED AND BREAKFAST
The owners of The Ossian Guest House, Ann and John, were a bit surprised to hear that I loved the neighborhood of their inn as much as I did. With restaurants, bars, live music, fresh fruit stands, cafes with free internet, thrift stores, and adorable architecture, I really couldn’t see what was not to love about the neighborhood and with the bed and breakfast being a nice mile or so walk from the tube at the Finsbury Park stop (don’t worry, there’s a bus if you’re weary of the walk), I can’t see why you wouldn’t want to stay here. The house has a charming field behind it, but there’s a story to that. Initially built around 1900, the house was meant for the water board and the ‘field’ is actually a reservoir. Although it can’t be walked on, it’s a beautiful sight and it brings a pasture-like feel to an otherwise residential part of London.

The inn offers three charming bedrooms. All three bedrooms have a different design and feel. There’s the French Room, the Jacuzzi Room, and the Rose Room. My room was the Rose Room. A canopy bed matched with a chandelier centered the room and was accented by lush curtains, stunning photography (taken by Ann), handy mirrored wardrobes, and a flat screen television (equipped with a DVD player and DVDs downstairs that you can borrow for free).

The bathroom, however, was my favorite part of the room. I think their shower (although maybe a bit too small to welcome larger folks) is one of the best showers I have ever had. The bathroom has some space age control panel that I’ve yet to see anywhere else. You can control the steam, water direction and pressure, lighting, and even a radio right there in the bathroom. It comes with a convenient seat…convenient after you’ve just jogged a couple miles around the neighborhood and need nothing more than to sit in the steam. (Seriously, if someone could have invented this already, I don’t see what the hold up is for the hoover board…)

The couple offer a complimentary breakfast each morning from 8-9am. Juice, coffee, tea, fruit, cereal, and all other expected essentials fill the table at breakfast hour and as is the case with every bed and breakfast, breakfast time is a great time to chat with other travelers from varied backgrounds.

By: Elizabeth Seward