Childhood Friend Visits, Stirring Memories of Travel in London

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14 July 2012 by hojo

This weekend, one of my friends from middle school and her husband checked into Creekside. She and her family have always shown such hospitality to me, it is an honor to return the privilege. As I work toward launching my own hostel or “pension,” I’m reminded of the role my friend played in introducing the concept to me, and what enriching experiences I’ve had in my own travels.

When I was 22, I backpacked around Europe for several months, and my visiting friend’s cousins, Sakis & Helen Kitsos, hosted me in their pension in London for several days before my return trip to the United States. They were wonderful, and welcomed me as a family member. I remember their amazing food (Helen’s soup = yummy!) .

During my stay, I went to see RENT at Shaftsbury Theatre, and penciled the following review in my travel journal:

It poured rain at the end of the show and i was wearing my black cotton shoes with thick green hiking socks. They became squishy by the time I arrived home. The first half of RENT was rather unconvincing. My initial impressions were that the cast was much too “straight” to carry off a convincing performance of this subject matter. many of the emotionally-charged scenes were overly choreographed – or at least executed with too much attention drawn to technicality – particularly Roger. Also, the chemistry between certain of the key players didn’t come off very well. Mimi’s character was inconsistent and it wasn’t until Maureen’s appearance near the end of Part One that life is breathed into the show and some sor of cohesion comes out of the up-’til-this-point aimless, rambling pent-up plot. During this “transition,” the cast does a great job “partying” together – where the technicality breaks down more and looks like they’re genuinely having fun. Roger starts to develop some character. Mimi’s goes away. Then, the plot goes overboard and just starts flogging its audience with the moral stick. Dying in America??
Ultimately, the fun parts of RENT were genuinely fun – the “serious” parts lacked soul, Angel & Collins were redeeming characters, but RENT did not deserve the standing ovation is deserved [sic].

I also visited some museums and was impressed by Helen Chadwick’s The Oval Court; visited Tower Records (anyone remember them?), watched a French Film, le Bossu, and according to my journal:

i ❤ Daniel Auteuil, but must admit I found Vincent Perez pretty studly too!”

I read lots of Virginia Woolf while walking around Camden Market, trying to find Holland Park.

Closing words from my sketchbook for that trip:

All’s well. My voyage recedes like the tide.

I am grateful to all the old friends, new friends, family of friends, and strangers that became friends for contributing to my journey. It really is a dream to have the opportunity to provide similar experiences to travelers in my hometown. So, welcome, friends, enjoy your visit!


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