Sunday, January 15, 2012

From the London Airport Go West

In my last post I talked about getting to London from Texas.  I said we got there saw the sights then we went home. Then I finished by talking about the trip home.  Now for the details in the middle...the good stuff!

We managed to get through customs (not that we had any reason not to!) and were free to explore London.  We had a few options to get into town. I, of course, choice the cheapest (8 pounds for both of us!), the Tube! We bought tickets for the Tube in the airport and found the right train that would go into city.

We were sure it was the right one because a man's voice came on over a speaker and says, "People on the platform, this the train you want. It is the only one." Why, thank you very much, kind British sir!  We got on and away we went!

Frankie on the tube
Frankie on the Tube from the airport to the hotel.
We had to switch lines in order to get to our hotel.  We were doing so well!  I was really proud of our handle of the underground train...scary thing...that I never saw anything like it until I was in college and went to New York...system. Then that all crashed to the ground.

We had to only go two stops to get to the one closest to the hotel. I got on the tube and the doors closed. Frankie did not get on!  I repeat, FRANKIE DID NOT GET ON! He didn't have enough time.  The doors closed without my husband on the Tube with me!!  All I could do was say, "No!" in a slightly panicked whispered voice.

As the doors closed I heard Frankie say that he would stay there. I violently shook my head no through the now closed doors. That would mean I would have to get off, figure out a way to get to the other side of the tracks (which is actually very easy in London), then get back on a train to get to him.  Maybe, that is if the underground system was that easy to navigate.  Having no way of getting in contact with him, I rode to the next stop and hopped off really quickly to see if I could walk back to the last station.  Nope. 

I decided to just get back on and go to the next stop which was St. Paul's, the one we needed.  I was thinking the whole time, "Please Frankie, get on the tube and go to St. Paul's.  Please go to St. Paul's.  Please go to St. Paul's." 

I got off the train and stood on the platform, waiting.  I would have waited there all night for him.  It would had been better for me to stay still and let him find me!  But after only a few long agonizing minutes the train came and he stepped off. I ran to him and hugged him. It wasn't as bad as when I thought I lost him at the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican City, but still stressful!

Our hotel was a stone's throw (well, if I threw it, it would probably take 3 or 4 tosses, but still) from St Paul's Cathedral where Prince Charles and Princess Diana were married in 1981. It was also near the London Stock Exchange and because of this everyday we had to pass by the Occupy London Stock Exchange tents and people. 

Occupy London Stock Exchange

The very first time we saw all of the tents and such, one person passed by us and was covered so you couldn't see their face or any defining features. That was a little unnerving because people who do that can't be up to any good. Plus, London had been under riot attacks only 4 months earlier by people dressed just like that!  Hello!  Yes, there are cameras all over the city of London, but behave and you don't have to worry about being caught by Big Brother!

We checked in at the hotel called Club Quarters, and planned on taking a nap but we decided to just suck it up and stay up.

We crossed the Millennium Bridge, which was built in 2000 to celebrate the millennium.  When the first people went across the bridge was found to be very wobbly.  The contractors took an extra more two years and had to spend millions of more pounds (had to keep reminding myself to not say dollars) to fix that little issue.  On the north side of the bridge you can see St. Paul's Cathedral and on the south side you can see the Tate Modern Museum.  It is a lovely pedestrian only bridge.

Millennium Bridge
Facing the Tate Modern
Under Millennium Bridge
Underneath looking towards St. Paul's
Millennium Bridge2
The steel construction jutting out to the side to allow for beautiful views
We decided to go the the Tate Modern Museum and to Shakespeare's Globe Theater. We went to the Globe first and took the tour.  This is not the original theater but it is only 750 feet away from where the real one was originally built in 1599, burned down in 1613, rebuilt in 1614, and then finally demolished in 1644.  The builders of the new Globe tried to keep as close to the original design and materials used as they could. So there were no power tools used and the place is even held together with wooden nails! The new Globe is a working theater and they have plays there in the summer.  It is open air so the winter is just too cold for plays.

There was one point where we sat down to listen to the guide talk and I almost fell asleep.  It wasn't just a nod off sleep quite of deal.  If I had actually fallen asleep I would have fallen over in the person next to me's lap and not even noticed. Luckily, the sitting down part didn't last long.  During one part of the tour somehow the Queen of England was brought up and the guide said the phrase, "God save the Queen." It was awesome! We finished up the tour, downed an espresso, and went to the Tate Modern.  Here are some pictures from the Globe.

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
Globe Theater from Millennium Bridge

Open Air Globe
Open roof construction
Globe Stage
The stage

Wood Nails Globe
Wooden Nails
Globe Gate
One of the animals on the fence leading into Globe Theater
Globe Gate4
Another animal on the fence
Afterwards, we walked the short distance to the Tate Modern Museum where we ate lunch. In just about every museum we went to there was a place to eat! Very convenient, but can be pricey. The Tate Modern wasn't too bad.

Interesting Food at Tate Modern
I could read all the words and I am pretty sure they were in English
but I couldn't for the life of me tell you what some of this stuff was!
Jasmine Tea at the Tate
Best Jasmine Tea I have ever had and the caffeine didn't hurt either.
Olives at the Tate
The big olives, called Gordal, tasted like none other I have ever had and they were wonderful! The small green ones were Manzanilla and the black ones are called Aragón.
Ham Hock Terrine at the Tate
This is the very first thing on the menu above.  Frankie said it was good, but still not sure what it was.
Curiosity Cola at the Tate
Very interesting and tasty
Once we were done eating, which helped us to feel a little more awake, we when on to explore the Tate Modern Museum of Art. I have to say that I don't think modern art is something I can really appreciate.  There were things in the Tate that were neat to see, but then there were some things that I don't even understand how it could be called art. So, because of my literal mindedness, I have to say that I was rather disappointed with the Tate Modern.

Here are some of the pieces that I did like.

Picaso at the Tate
Yes, it is strange, BUT, it by Picasso!  You just don't see a painting by Picasso everyday!
(unless you work at the Tate that is...)

Sunflower Seed Art at Tate
A pile of sunflower seeds....stupid, right?  But wait.....

Sunflower Seed Art Close-up
Each one of those sunflowers seeds were made out of porcelain and hand painted by ONE person!

Orange Stairs2
Orange staircase made out of a very light material.  Check out the railing at the top!

Woman and Laundry2
At first, I was thought this was stupid, but every time I see it, it keeps drawing me in.  I have no idea why.
Monet -Water Lilies
Monet's Water Lilies

Art at the Tate8
My favorite piece of art by far!!
Here are some of the pieces I didn't care for.

Cirlce of Rocks
It is literally pebbles in circles.  Geometrically, I like it.
I call this one...Melting Elephant...Its real clue...don't care.
I was really getting mad at the "art" by this time.  It is paper glued to a wall.  Geometrically, great!  Art...NO WAY!

Frankie thought my reactions were hilarious.  He would go stand by a piece that he knew would rile me up with this grin on his face just waiting.  And then there was this.  It is a video of a video they were calling art.  It is trash blowing on a street.  I repeat, TRASH.  BLOWING. ON. A. STREET.  UUGGGHHH!  This is NOT art!!  It is trash on the street!


After that, I was so worked up that we had to leave.  So we hopped on a red double decker bus to Tafalger Square, which is simply a public space. There were a lot of people around.  There was a group there singing Christmas carols. There were people gathered to raise awareness of the plight of people in Syria. 

Support Syria Trafalgar Square

There were, of course, some people just looking around like us. Here is one of the beautiful things that we all saw.  The fountain in Trafalgar Square has LED lights in it that change color.  I took stills of the different colors. Pretty!

Trafalgar Square Fountain Green

Trafalgar Square Fountain Blue

Trafalgar Square Fountain Red

Trafalgar Square Fountain Orange

We walked around some more and found a place to eat supper called the Coal Hole.  It was very delicious! Several people and trip advisory websites said that pub food was getting much better in London and we were not disappointed.  Plus, pub food is cheaper than regular restaurants. (Did someone say cheaper? Head whipping around to find it!)

Fish and Chips at Coal Hole
Traditional Fish and Chips

Chicken Sandwich at Coal Hole
Grilled chicken sandwich with what they kept calling bacon but we would call ham.
The up for 30 hours was really starting to wear on us by this time.  Plus, we sat down to eat and our bodies were thinking, "Well this is as close as we are apparently (they are so dramatic when they are tired!) going to get to laying down, so let's go to sleep sitting up."  Somewhere between getting off the plane and this point we had gotten a second wind but it was running very low.  So we headed back to hotel, planned a little bit on the itinerary for the next day and then crashed with our bellies full of good food and our heads full of exciting new things in a foreign land.

Stay tuned...we were in London for 8 days so there is much more to come!