One of the best parts of extended travel is the great friends you make along the way. No matter where you are in the world there will always be a common bond with that stranger sitting next to you on the bus, sharing the same dorm room, paddling for the same wave, or bellying up to the same bar. The commonalities are endless but start with being away from home, friends, and fam, being on a budget, having a love for travel and good times, wanting to have incredible experiences, and naming your group of adventurers with silly yet meaningful names. Fortunately for us, two of these groups of friends are centered in or would be in London around the time we’d be there, so it was only right to catch up, regale each other with more travel stories, and make more memories in the meantime. This such time had us reuniting with Team Tartiflette, created in Laos in August 2011, and one of the founding members of Bolttin Hardcore, created in Indonesia in July 2011.
Keeping in mind our “good fortune” in getting delayed 24 hours from London to Dubai on Superbowl Sunday and getting a free $400 hotel room and $100 meal at a fancy-pants hotel in London, we were yet again delayed returning to London from Dubai to meet with Team Tartiflette, Joe and Carrie of London, Thomas and Claire from Nice, and of course, the PB Nomads. But the short weekend was not lost and we met up with the team for some pints of really, really good English beer at a Samuel Smith’s Pub (the exact beer I wished for and received on my 21stbirthday! Coincidence? I think not) courtesy of Joe
and Carrie, our gracious local tour guides and hosts. We had planned a dinner of authentic and very English fish & chips but since fish & chips are holy in England and this being a Sunday, the place was closed, so we audibled to a sinful, albeit amazing, American-style burger joint called Byron in SoHo. Most, if not all, opted for the Burger, Bourbon and Craft Beer special which quickly made us miss the good ‘ol US of A for in all its glory. This place surely knows how to whip up incredible, fat, juicy burgers; wicked, high-gravity, artisan crafted beers; and sweet, strong, may-I-have-another, bourbons. The Team, smacking their lips and feeling the buzz of the bourbon and beer, triumphantly agreed. Bidding farewell to our London guides, we made plans to visit Abbey Road with the French delegation the following afternoon.
I want you, Abbey Road. Nearly 10 years have gone by since Erin and I began dating and this album played significance in its creation. In that all-too-important moment of comparing musical-interests with the “girl you like,” Erin had the Abbey Road CD (as well as an impressive collection of Mason Jennings), thus cementing our relationship from “like” to “love.” Being my all-time favorite Beatles album and crux of the PB Nomads relationship, it was only right to visit the site of the famous album cover. Not at all surprising given that we were in London, the weather was cloudy and intermittently rainy, and upon our arrival to the famous site, the hilarity had already begun. The crosswalk is a real, active crosswalk at a relatively busy intersection with loads of traffic and even more tourists looking to recreate their own Beatles moment. Time and time again, when traffic was lightest, tourists would rush into the crosswalk and their invited photographers would dash into the middle of the road, quickly posing and snapping as many photos as possible before horns began blaring and traffic lined up waiting for the “pedestrians” to cross. Soon enough it was our turn and the picture turned out pretty darn good, with the passing of Peanut Butter– our prop to remember. We dined on fish & chips with Thomas and Claire for lunch before bidding them farewell, hoping to meet up again soon, this time in the USA or France.
That evening, the 48 hours of reunions continued and we met with Nick “Magico” of Bolttin Hardcore fame, whom we met in Indonesia. We took the tube over to his hood and met at Tayyabs for Paki/Indian food, London’s second-most famous cuisine thanks in part to its abundance of immigrants over the last two centuries and its highly-traveled, worldly citizens. It was, hands-down, the most delicious Pakistani food we had ever tried, and to make things even better, was actually affordable compared to the oft-expensive London eateries. Nick treated, much to our protest, because “we were still traveling.” These are the Good Karma rules of the road and we begrudgingly obliged, forever in debt to all of our good fortune and amazing hosts through the years, and eager to pay it forward again to visiting travelers in the USA. So, next time you’re in London, go to Tayyabs! Catching up with Nick was such a pleasure, as he stayed in Indo long after we had left and then continued onto the Philippines before returning home. Responsible for arranging our amazing sailing trip around Komodo and Rinca Islands in Indonesia, he will forever be known as Magico. Speaking loudly to the strength of Bolttin Hardcore, we had one last pint before bidding farewell, and were off to the airport for our flight to Cape Town, where we’d be reuniting with the last two members of Bolttin Hardcore, “Roger the First Mate” and “Sue Sea Q.” We still need to see Captain Iggy Poppins and only Erin got to see Rio in SF in January. Not fair!
Well, until next time Team Tartiflette and Bolttin Hardcore, thank you for everything and looking forward to the next adventure, wherever that may be!