26 May 2009

No rest for the wicked/ancient

see more of london! march, march, march! (several more miles of walking today...i gave my mom shin splints...urban mountain climbing she called it...with me as the drill sergeant...anyone else wanna come visit?)

after hitting up one of the local starbucks (approx. 5 were in our immediate vicinity...there are exactly none in rennes, joy!) we headed south to leicester square to wait in line for discount theatre tickets. we confirmed that jersey boys was on the board and stood in line. we happened to be waiting behind a young toronto couple. they were touring europe after just finishing undergrad. the female mentioned her family has a summer home in halifax and that its a great city. she even recommended her favorite eatable there: donair kebab sandwiches (this is a version of the turkish döner sandwiches we eat regularly here in rennes). thank you!

after acquiring tickets, we took the tube to the london bridge stop. we walked to the thames and paused to admire the tower bridge. very cool. i love the color aqua...slap aqua on anything and i'll call it awesome. we then turned west and strolled past london bridge (sad, ugly rebuild...but we got to hear a tourist sing "london bridge is falling down...") and arrived at the newly rebuilt Globe Theatre.

(mum at tower bridge; had to take a picture of this ice cream vendor along the way)

the original globe theatre (which burnt down in 1613) was built near to the rebuild, along the thames, with partial ownership by shakespeare (not to be confused with the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in stratford-on-avon). we decided to take the tour of this new incarnation of the globe (opened in 1997). a traveling production of "As You Like It" was rehearsing and we were able to watch them on stage (this made the price of the tour so worth it!).

what an awesome theatre, totally in keeping with the style of the original (or what is known of the original). it is all wood with bench seating in the upper decks and an open ground floor near the stage. the theatre is round and there is no ceiling. the thatched roof protects the top seats but the stage is exposed to the elements (hence the "performances continue whatever the weather" warning on the tickets).


(shakespeare actors in costume just outside the theatre; mum amongst shakespeare)

after the globe, we bought some tasty, fresh sandwiches from the chain called Eat and lunched on the lawn near the tate modern art museum and millenium bridge. the tate was having some kind of cool modern art festival for children. it looked totally awesome, what a great way to spend a bank holiday with your family and introduce your kids to the world of art.

after lunch, we took advantage of the fact that most museums in london (and the uk?) are free. the arts are SUPER government-supported and it makes for a wonderful culturally-aware populace. so, we popped into the tate to just peruse the third floor collection. easy breezy.

then, we continued west along the riverwalk to the hungerford bridge and waterloo station. near the bridge, we paused to catch a weird act: a seriously made-up woman with killer calves being fondled and danced with by a legless man...strange. with that in mind, we jumped on the tube to go to harrods, which turned out to be a different kind of equally frightening freakshow.

we plunged into the cosmetics area. lights, perfume, action! so many counters and rooms of uniformed workers waiting to help you. kinda scary actually (especially because i am allergic to shopping). there was a room with an egyptian theme selling purses and watches and the jewelry rooms felt like museums, with creepy side rooms of tiffanys, cartier, etc for the "real" customers. then we arrived at the ultra fancy tea room. after realizing they didnt serve the kind of tea we were after we left that area. mom decided to wander into the super gaudily decorated market area and we located the small café inside serving cream tea (exactly what we were after).

the cream tea was basically £9.50 (each) for a generous pot of tea, two scones (one plain, one with raisins), 2 tiny jars of jam, and a dollop of clotted cream. delicious! because we chose peppermint tea, we didnt get the liquid cream with our "cream tea." this was a tasty and fun oasis in the madness that was this store. after tea, we decided to head back to our hotel (thereby missing other store gems: the diana and dodi memorial, the wax figure of mr al fayed, and the pet shop area selling only purebreds...no thanks!).


(these brits may have awful food, in general, but damn they do an awesome tea and scone!)

after resting, we dropped down to soho to grab some dinner before our musical. we chose gourmet burger kitchen (on michaels suggestion). it reminded me of a similar set up to jo'burger in dublin...so i was wetting my pants in anticipation of this burger. unfortunately, it couldnt live up to my hype (but then again, what could!?), plus my mom and i shared a burger and fries and the price was like £12. not cheap. we did sit next to a nice british mother-daughter couple who had visited the u.s. (L.A. and las vegas, yikes!) and were nice enough to buy the side sauce my mom ordered mid-meal when we didnt have cash to cover it.

anyway, dinner was done and now it was time for jersey boys. this is the sensational musical about the real life "frankie valli and the four seasons." this was my moms era of music and she absolutely loved the entire thing, so it was definitely worth it. for me, the plot was crap (the pacing of the biography was off to me) but the musical numbers were great. surprising how many of their hits are seriously famous (sherry, big girls dont cry, walk like a man, rag doll, bye, bye baby, working my way back to you, will you love me tomorrow, i cant take my eyes off of you, oh what a night!). a little disturbing that the old man behind me sang along to every song...but it was a nice night and the upper terrace of the theater overlooked old compton st in soho so that was cool during intermission.

overall, london reminded me of new york city, except it was even more international. there were so many people speaking languages i couldnt identify (russian?, polish?, arabic?, something from somewhere in asia...) it felt like a city of the world rather than a city belonging to any one country. and every single person was wearing some different type of clothing to denote their personality, nationality, persuasion, beliefs, etc. very, very cool.

also, the transportation was quite easy. we didnt take any buses, we did it all via the tube underground. with some helpful tips from friends (avoid the district, hammersmith, and circle lines like the plague) and by listening for the current lines/stops to avoid, we had NO problems getting around. many times per day we found ourselves on the northbound piccadilly line, and i giggled everytime when the electronic lady voice said "this is a piccadilly line to...cockfosters." so im immature, sue me. funny shit though.


(me and my boyfriend dexter in the london underground...back off lola)

also, i would like to thank the city of london for its lovely weather (3 days of nearly full sunshine, only a few raindrops for like 30 minutes today). it also provided some delightful entertainment seeing all the pastie white brits who were burnt redder than a lobster. ouch! thats what you get from being from a damp, grey country.

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