Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Art, Food & Lights at Night

My first full day in London started with coffee and pastries delivered by a handsome room service guy. Wait... the serviced apartment doesn't offer room service... but it did for me in the form of Chad sneaking down the block to the neighborhood coffee shop, Bermondsey Street Coffee,  to bring breakfast back to the apartment. So nice!

After fueling up, Chad and I caught a bus to Tate Modern to look at modern art in a converted power plant. Here's a weird revelation about my taste in art: the older the "modern art" is, the more I tend to like it. Matisse? Monet? Mondrian? Ellsworth Kelly? Calder? Yes, please! But that guy who had his wedding for free in some gallery and is now presenting the photos of that free wedding as an art exhibit in a big, fancy museum? Um, no, not so much.

After we had our fill of modern art, we walked from the Tate Modern to Burough Market, a meandering food market with delicious offerings of fresh local produce, eleventy-hundred kinds of cheese, roasted nuts of all sorts, foods from many nations, Pimm's cups, ciders, baked goods and more. It was pretty amazing. We joined the slow-moving crowds to gawk at goodies.  We enjoyed yummy snacks at the market, and took a little picnic of items for later. We walked about ten minutes back to the apartment to rest a bit.

A public service announcement from me to you: do not attempt to drive in London. There is no parking anywhere. Drivers pay congestion fees to drive in the city during the day. The British drive on the opposite side of the road than Americans. Gas is super-expensive in England. The driver seat is on the opposite side of the car. Buy an Oyster card and pay only about half the cost of single tickets for the bus and the London Underground, or "tube" in local-speak.

As the sun started to set, we set out for the London Bridge Underground Station (another ten minute walk from our apartment) to catch a train to Green Park, where we hopped on the London by Night tour bus. We sat on the breezy-chilly open top of the double-decker bus for a better view of sites such as Trafalgar Square, Picadilly Circus, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, Harrod's Department Store and its 1000 string lights, the London Eye and bunches of other stuff that I don't remember. The tour gave a lovely overview of London landmarks.

Tune in tomorrow for more wandering around London, and read about my near-meltdown over hunger mixed with huge crowds of people and too much walking.