Yesterday in London

The internet is working! Yay!

So, yesterday I went to London. I was planning to get an early start, but my train was cancelled to due signalling problems. The train I did catch was very crowded, and the only reason I got a seat is because they “declassified” first class. I was either the only one paying attention to the announcement or the only one assertive enough to ask the kind older gentleman in first class if I could sit in the window seat next to him. I’m pretty sure the only difference between this and the rest of the train was the sticker on the window that says “1st” and your own self-satisfaction. There may even have been less foot room.

I met Marcos in Trafalgar Square at noon. Awesomely, we had basically matching sunglasses.

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sunglasses twins!

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The National Gallery

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The National Gallery was our first stop. We had planned a pretty ambitious day: National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, The Tate, and The Tower of London. We flew through the National Gallery. It was gorgeous, and so was the art. I saw a lot of paintings I’d learned about in my art history classes, and a lot of really wonderful pieces by wonderful artists. There was Michelangelo, Titian, van Eyke, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, the Impressionists, Velasquez, Vermeer, Claude, Rubens, Constable, Turner, Ingres, Claude… the list goes on! It was heartbreaking to run through it all so fast, but it was still fabulous. I can go back whenever I want, and now I know what I want to see more of.

favorite

favorite

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After the National Gallery, we decided to go straight to the Tate. I had arrived so late and there had been so much to see, we were at the National Gallery much longer than anticipated. I’d also already been to the National Portrait Gallery once, with Jolie, so Marcos and I decided to save it for next time. On the underground we saw an advertisement for an exhibit the Royal Academy, so we’ll go to that on that same future date. Perhaps Thursday.

From the tube to the Tate, we walked along the Thames. It was really lovely.

me, with the Millennium Bridge and St Paul's Cathedral

me, with a diet coke in my pocket

The Millennium Bridge, which you can see behind me in the photo above,  was built in 2000 to commemorate the millennium. It basically spans from St Paul’s Cathedral to the Tate. We didn’t need to cross it at that point, but we ventured out a little ways to see what we could see.

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The building the Tate is in is pretty awesome. The collection itself was a little underwhelming after what we’d just seen. There were a few gems, like Richter, Rothko, or Cy Twombly. And the view from the private member’s cafeteria (to which Marcos’s mother belongs) was spectacular.

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We left with what felt like plenty of time to get to The Tower. It closed at 5:30 but the last entry was at 5:00. I wanted to spend more than half an hour there, but I can always go back. The walking path took us away from the river for a while, and when we got back towards the Thames this was our view:

they put heads on stakes on that thing

they put heads on stakes on that thing

THE TOWER BRIDGE

THE TOWER BRIDGE!

It was at this point that I started to get nervous. It was a quarter to five, and we hadn’t even made it to that ridiculously long bridge yet. Ridiculously long, gorgeous, and slightly scary bridge. They displayed peoples bodies and heads on it as an example to deter others from committing whatever grievous crime landed them there.

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We power-walked and multi-tasked: Marcos took these pictures for me while I was speed walking backwards.

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walking and smiling

walking and smiling

We jogged the last bit of the bridge, right past some vendors honey roasting some kind of nut. It smelled delicious. We found ourselves in front of the Tower, but nowhere near the entrance. We took off running. After about 50 meters, we passed a sign that read “Tickets: 250 Meters” and picked up our pace. Unfortunately, when we got there, we found out that the Tower closes an hour and a half earlier during the winter. We’d missed it by quite a bit. Walking back along the complex’s outer walls, it was nice to be able to take our time. It’s amazing just to see the building. It started to hit me what an amazing day it had been. I had seen some truly unbelievable things things, I was in London. It’s a little overwhelming. I don’t know if I could have handled the Tower that day, on top of all the other awesome. Just looking at it started making me feel a little choked up.

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We got some of those stupid delicious nuts and hung out under the bridge. The sun was setting, and the green-brown water made me weirdly homesick for the Lake of the Ozarks. Also, the sky was the exact same colors as the wave painting that used to hang over our lake house staircase.

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So with the sightseeing done for the day, we took a minute to decide what to do next. We had dinner at a pub called Bull and decided to go to 69 Colebrooke Row for drinks. Before I left KC, the owner of Manifesto (my very favorite bar) recommended it to me. According to him, it’s one of the world’s best bars. It was prettttttttty good, but at the end of the day I think I prefer Manifesto. The cocktail list was good, but it included things like their Bloody Mary, Kir Royal, and Bellini. I’m sure that these are VERY GOOD and somewhat unique, but you can get a pretty good Bloody Mary at a lot of places. I would have preferred to see more unique cocktails in their place, since the list was so short. I ordered a Terroir, which was described as “Distilled clay, flint, and lichen straight from the bottle.” I have no idea what that means, so really my curiosity got the best of me. It was great.

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However, I think that the best drink of the night was their Prairie Oyster. I should have taken a photo of it. It came in an oyster-shell shaped dish, and you slurped it down like you would an oyster. Traditionally, it’s made with raw egg. However, in 69 Colebrook Row’s version, The “meat” of the oyster was tomato. It was so deliciously spicy, I almost reconsidered the Bloody Mary.

We followed this with one of Marcos’s favorite area bars. It specializes in whiskey. Now, my favorite cocktail is a Sazerac. It’s a classic cocktail made with rye whiskey, named for the Sazerac distillery. These days, Sazerac Rye is hard to find. This bar is the first time I’ve ever seen it. The bottle was beautiful. Unfortunately, they couldn’t make me a Sazerac cocktail. It broke my heart a little, but I was glad to get to try the whiskey regardless.

I made it back to the station just in the nick of in time, but unfortunately my train was cancelled. More signalling problems. I to wait an hour for a train that could get me even close to Brighton, and then take a bus for an hour and a half. I considered just staying in London, but I had class in the morning. I didn’t get in until 3:30. It was so cold and I was so tired that I just took a cab home. It would have been a 30 minute walk otherwise, I’d injured my knee, and taxi fare was only about £6. Well worth it.

Today I had my first elective class. It’s called The Artistic Narrative, and I think it will be the most interesting part of my semester. I had a good heated debate with the professor today. It should be interesting. I came home afterwards to nap and rest my leg. RICE has been really helping, and if it’s not better soon I’ll go see a doctor. My Mom kicked butt today and got my health insurance in order so that’s now an option.

Tomorrow, I’m making my Mom’s recipe for Chicken Fiesta in the crockpot. I couldn’t find any black beans until today. That same odd little Turkish market where I found the popcorn had them. I love that place. It has everything I need, the people are nice, and it is so cheap. I’m very excited for dinner tomorrow.

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