Thursday, 25 December 2008

Notes about London

I sort of forget the order of things that I did for the rest of my time in London. I did a lot, walked a lot. I met up with two people, one who took me to Notting Hill and Southwark. In Notting Hill I tried the oddly good pork pie and had a really good cupcake topped with green tea icing (not in the same establishment).

After the WC-S-B tour I had some time on my hands so I went to Earl's Court to look around at a 24-hour Tesco's (the ubiquitous grocery shopping-but-not-really). When I got out at the Earl's Court tube station, I was facing the stadium and that's when it finally hit me that I was in London. You see, Muse, my favourite band of the last few years, played a huge concert there and all the online fan forums were talking about the Earl's Court venue. And I finally got to see it in person! What a tourist I am.
Here are some notes I wrote about the grocery trip:
10 o'clock finds me not adjusted to the "time change" (really, light change from Reykjavik to London) at a 24-hour Tesco's trying to find Jaffa cakes, Walker's shortbread, good crisps and Cadbury's. I can only find the first but there's also mint chocolate sticks I've been looking for for years. There's club-like dance music on, really weird when trying to look for fruit. Loeb (in Ottawa) does that too.

I spent Tuesday morning trying to find two record shops and a photography gallery that all had either closed up shop or moved out. Dang you, Google Maps/Yellow Pages! I was tired. But what I got out of that was wandering around Soho a bit. I feel as if it's a more shopped and walkable Queen Street West in Toronto. If I lived there, I'd like to collect all their business cards!
Lesson learned: when in a big city, give up trying to get to specific shops and just explore the neighbourhoods. I should've known this from my experiences in Toronto.

That night I checked my e-mail. I received a message from my parents to relax and not go around crazily so much or else I'll get sick! So I did. On Wednesday I went east to Brick Lane for lunch after having a late morning, then I went west to Ealing's PM Gallery and Manor House. They had an exhibition about Alan Fletcher (the grandfather of modern design and author of the best book Art of Looking Sideways). That was my day. Yay!

On Thursday night, my second last night, I had pre-ordered tickets for a Christmas concert featuring the Westminster chorus. Sweet! This is my chance to go see the choir in one of the most famous churches! Ever since leaving choir I've been missing songs at Christmastime. Anyway, I get to Westminster Abbey and no one is there. A guard there says, "Let me see your ticket. Is it Abbey or Cathedral?" It's a cathedral. I get in, there's scaffolding all over the walls. What a rip-off. At least the choir was good.

On my last full day I went to the Museum of London at Docklands. It told the history of London as a trade city. Nice. On my last day I squeezed a walk in South Kensington, which is where I had been living all along (I use the "which is" construction a lot, don't I?). I never knew that it was sort of a French quarter. The irony was a bit too much, since I was headed to France in just a couple of hours. Then I managed a tour of the V+A museum and the Natural History Museum. Before getting on the train to Paris, I went to the British Library because it's right next to the train station. I saw a copy of the Magna Carta and such.

Then Paris.

Random notes:
Other foods:
I LOVE Jaffa cakes! The McVitie's kind, it must be. Also, ever since my childhood book about the postman delivering presents, I've always wondered about mince pies. I finally tasted one and wanted immediately to throw it out. It's a concotion of weird fillings, including raisins, which I hate.

My favourites:
I am absolutely in love with St. Paul's Cathedral. The first time I went there was at night. I was (safely) almost all along. The huge magnificent building was lit up, this thing of beauty almost all to myself. Then a group of Italians gathered on the steps, singing a song. I took a picture of it, which may be my favourite picture of the trip so far.
London's monuments are best at night if one wants to look at them from the outside. They are all lit up and crazy beautiful, grand. Like St. Paul's above, Big Ben, and the Tower Bridge.

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