I don't have the greatest vacation track record. Whether going off on a Hunter Thompson-esque drunken tirade and public spectacle in front of 7,000 people in Chicago(warning - link takes you to my ancient myspace page) or nearly assassinating a poor old French woman in New York, I sometimes wonder what it would be like to just be a normal person and just see some sights and buy some trinkets, you know?
So in London we ended up in a huge anarchist riot. No shit. Check it out.
We went out shopping Saturday with about a gazillion other people. At the same time, a huge protest was going on a few miles away. From what I was able to gather from the helpful British people on the TV, banks and financiers made a bunch of risky deals, bankrupted the country, and now cuts are being made on public services mostly used by the poor and middle class. What a crazy country they have over there, huh?
While the little lady (or Bird, as they say over there) was looking through some store or another, I hear all sorts of chanting and commotion. I go outside to check it out and there's a group of a couple hundred people marching down the street. Well, that's sort of cool. They looked like the people that are at every protest, although there were a few older people and a couple English Nigels that looked like they were riding their bikes and just decided to follow the crowd for a while.
Fellas, if you ever need a diversion from shopping, watching a march that might turn into a riot will hit the spot.
This splinter group of anarchists ended up smashing up banks, occupying department stores, battling charming-looking English cops, and setting a big fire in the middle of ... Geez, I've already forgotten. A really major intersection in London.
The funny thing is, we would be walking around looking at stuff and come across a bank with their windows smashed and alarms ringing while cops formed a guard around it. Or we'd walk by a McDonalds smashed and paint splattered the next few blocks over. Somehow we kept following the destruction whichever way we went.
At one point in the night most of the streets were blocked and there were hundreds of anarchists, regular old shoppers and cops decked out in riot gear. Some people were trying to tip over a cop car (or Lorry, as they say over there). I took a few pictures, which I will be selling to punk bands for album covers over the next few years.
I never really felt in danger, mostly because we were Americans on vacation, so nothing bad could happen to us. Also, you'd see a line of riot cops (or Bobbies as they say over there)holding back protesters while a guy at the end helped a tourist read a map.
The riots lasted most of the night, and they caused all sorts of damage. I'll have some funnily captioned photos soon.
Don't know where the next vacation is. I hear Libya is nice this time of year.