London - A City of Two Tales
Trip Start May 30, 2012
83Trip End Nov 07, 2012
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On the fifth day of our London stay, we traveled across the city to meet our new hosts in Higham's Park, Jill and Andy. Jill is a teacher from Nottingham and Andy is a journalist who writes about the regulation of different sports. Andy grew up in the Fulham area, going to Chelsea games at Stamford Bridge. Excellent! A Chelsea fan I can discuss football with! Andy and I dicussed the current hot topic in England, John Terry's (Chelsea's captain and former Team England's captain) alleged racial charges. It's all over the newspapers and radios in London. Andy works out of his home, so in the mornings before we left for the day, we got to have some talks. It was very interesting hearing a journalist's perspective and a Chelsea fan's too. Another cool thing about staying with Andy, was that he could really appreciate my excitement of going to my first football game in England!
On another morning Jess and I had planned a day to see our own stuff and meet back at the house in the evening to make supper. Since we were out a bit later on the first two nights of our stay with Andy and Jill, we didn't get a chance to meet their three year old daughter Chardy until this night
One other cool thing about London is that all the museums are free, because the Queen said so. And there are some pretty amazing museums in London. Jess and I went to the Victoria and Albert Visual Arts Museum and the British Museum. I went to the Imperial War Museum and the Natural History by myself. It would take way too long to go into detail about all of them, so I am just going to talk about my favourite, the Natural History Museum!! So cool! I came in a side door, and in front of me was an escalator that went up into the Earth! It took me into the red zone of the museum explaining about eathquakes, volcanoes, and the geography of the World. They even had an earthquake simulator room where tv screens showed real footage of a monster earthquake in Kobe Japan. The room was set up to look like the convenience store that the film was taken in. They also had a model of a leaf in the green zone that was blown up many times it's size so you could see all it's parts, with a British narrator explaining everything. I felt like I was in my own personal Planet Earth film. And of course they had loads and loads of animals in the blue zone. Big, small, old, new, extinct, you name it, they had it. And many dinosaurs, with an animaltronic actual size T-Rex with blood on it's mouth. Also, the last Friday of every month, the museum is open late, and one of these Fridays a year, students from surrounding Colleges and Universities, set up tables everywhere with cool science stuff and show everyone
London is known as the British Broadway, with all the different theatre venues throughout the city putting on award winning plays and musicals almost every night out of the year. You cannot possibly go to London without having an opportunity to view a performance. If I can remember correctly, I have never been to a musical. So that was near the top of the list for our London visit. Once we found out what was showing, it came down to a toss up between The Lion King and Wicked. Wicked won out because Ryan had already seen The Lion King many years ago and I had heard Wicked was amazing. We went to the ticket office ahead of time to inquire about ticket prices and the seating chart. We were about to purchase the cheapest seats (£15 each, and definitely not the best views) when I just thought to ask about student prices, because you never know. The lovely ticket lady informed us that on the morning of, top price seats (£62.50) are sold to students for a major discount (£27) but it is on a first come-first serve basis. Well, it was a fantastic deal and even though it was a bit more than we had wanted to spend, we were thrilled because we knew the seats were amazing! And amazing they were! We sat in the first balcony, three rows up, right in the centre. Perfect view, perfect acoustics, perfect show! Wicked is absolutely incredible! The story line is extremely clever with witty humour, and the music is wonderful
The other part of my tale comes to you from a market shopper's paradise, the shopping haven area called Camden. Camden is full of spunk, funk, and punk. This is where the cool kids hang. Well, it's also where the artisans, stoners, goths, ravers, and everyone in between hangs too. A melting pot of life styles. Camden is home to some of the biggest flea, antique, clothing, and junk markets in London. You have Camden Lock, a market so closely packed together with little tents and food stalls that you can hardly breathe, but every tent has a different personality. Then, you have a slightly classier area across the street where local artisans try and sell their art, jewelry and "organic, free range, non-toxic, hypoallergenic, whatever else they can name" goods at exorbitant prices. Finally, there is the mother ship: The Stables Market. Exactly as it sounds, it is an enormous area where, back in the 1800's, they used to stable mass amounts of horses. Now, hundreds of shops are set up in the old horse stalls but it still has the fantastic look of old London. It in itself is a piece of art. I decided I needed at least a whole day there to explore the bargains and experience the atmosphere. I needed a plan of action. I decided to walk around first to see what was being sold and then decide what I actually wanted and who had the best deal. It was so much fun walking through different stalls and shops and seeing what was out there. I had to show major self control because we are working with extremely limited space inside our backpacks. This is a very sad thing, as there were so many neat things and great deals around every corner. I spent most of my time in The Stables, partly because it was the neatest place ever, and partly because it is a little too easy to find yourself completely lost and turned around in the winding halls and streets. But that is part of the charm! At the end of the day, I was successful in acquiring two shirts, two pieces of jewelry, and one of the best oatmeal cookies I have ever tasted! If I ever have another chance to come back to London, I know Camden will be there, with all of it's spunk and charm, waiting for me.