I just got back from London and it was so refreshing. It was nice, first off, to speak english, all the time, to everyone. I could ask for help from anyone at anytime...what a relief. It was also nice to be taken care of, to have Taylor (Lunsford, I'm not referring to myself in third person) lead me throughout the city. I was so happy to simply follow along behind her goggling at clock towers, theaters and store windows.
It was an accomplishment to simply get to London by myself on Easy Jet, a somewhat sketchy airline. After walking out on to the tarmac (something that I never do) and an easy ride on the aptly named easy jet, I arrived in London Luton airport. I killed the time during my 55 minute bus ride in to London by listening to The Beatles and Kate Nash (the two most British groups I had on my Ipod) and was truly enchanted by the empty and dark London streets. It was amazing to me that at 1am the streets were quiet, in Barcelona, people don't even begin going out until 2am.
Taylor met me at my bus and we slowly made our way to her flat on the inefficient night busses. A brief stop at Star Kebab, an indian restaurant, for chips with curry finished the night and I QUICKLY fell asleep on the couch.
In the morning, we ventured to Hampton Court, on of Henry VIII's palaces. My excitement for the trip grew once I found out that there were not only costumed actors at the palace, but that we were also able to wear robes and join in on activities like a courtly dance class and a meeting with the queen and her advisors. After getting lost in a perfectly manicured bush maze, we stopped for a quick lunch of tomato soup and crusty bread. Mmm, what could be better on a chilly day than tomato soup in a royal garden.
That night I was able to visit Alex at her apartment which was, unfortunately, on the opposite side of the city. After riding on the most tightly packed subway you can imagine for 11 stops, I finally arrived. It was so fun to just hang out at Alex's apartment, we cooked a long and simplified version of chicken parmesan for dinner before heading out to some pubs for cider. The cider was wonderful, but the BEST was strawberry beer. Who would ever want to drink beer when cider exists? It blows my mind.
Saturday was quintessentially British. After pad thai for lunch, we headed downtown to see the sights. We made quick stops at everything I needed to see, including Buckingham, Big Ben, the Globe...and finished the afternoon with my favorite part of the trip, high tea.
The tea was in an old and slightly stuffy hotel, we were seated in the drawing room where small groups of ladies chatted and snacked. Our tea came with complementary champagne and from the time the champagne arrived, the fanciness never ended. I chose a black currant and hibiscus tea which was served in an adorable individual tea pot. We were also given a selection of sandwiches, scones, candied apples and pumpkin tarts. The food was amazing. I've always loved scones, but I feel that I can say I had never had a truly great scone until this tea. We slowly ate and drank until our bellies were full and tastebuds were exhausted.
We had some time to kill before heading to our musical, so we pit stopped at Harrods. Something that I didn't think I would be that impressed by was simply amazing. We turned the corner to find Harrods sparkling with tiny lights, but the exterior opulence was minimal compared to the floors of decadence inside. We wandered aimlessly from floor to floor admiring the vogue clothes, home goods and food, as well as the people who were able to buy them.
Our musical, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, was more extravagant than any show I've ever seen. It focuses on 3 transvestites as they journey across the desert in a bus named Priscilla. As you can imagine, the costumes were over the top in the very best way. Every song that you would expect to be sung, was, including I Will Survive. I can't imagine a more fun musical to attend!
My last day in London was filled with markets. We first went west to Portabello Street, a collection of antique vendors selling everything from magazines to fur coats. We left empty handed and headed to Camden Market, a gigantic intertwined maze of vendors. You can buy anything at Camden Market, from craftsman jewelry, to antique luggage to pleather jackets (which I purchased). You can and should also buy the trashiest of trashy chinese food. The asian woman lure you in with a sample and then give you a "special" price, which, if you're like me, you won't be able to pass up. Three pounds for a overfilled bowl of, well, whatever the woman decides to give you which could include, chicken, veggies, noodles and, my favorite, a sort of tempura fried dough ball. I ended the night with my 20 pound pleather jacket in hand (I worked the guy down from 35 pounds) and in severe need of fruit or some other healthy snack.
I adore London and absolutely can't wait to go back! I was sad to be home in Barcelona, but the weather today is sunny, my Señora fixed a wonderful dinner last night and I feel very European in my pleather jacket. I guess Barcelona isn't so bad.