Katie and I arrived on Thursday, technically a day early. Our apartment building is a two-year old highrise near White Chapel and Spitalfields - prime killing grounds for Jack-the-Ripper (a tour we decided to make a prioritysince it is relevant to the area). The building is very modern and highly secure with sterile halls and rooms. The best thing about the room is the huge window, along with a grated window that can open. The worst thing about the room: the very flat pillow.
The amazing view from my room.
Thursday evening I had dinner with a girl I new from the costume shop and two guys I was less familiar with but have come to like quite a bit. That's another thing that is great about this trip: there are people I don't normally get to interact with. The group is made up of two fashion/apparel students; six costume oriented students, one of which is actually a music student with a stunning operatic voice; two theatre history/theatre education PhDs; one MFA actor; and three theatre undergraduates, two of which are acting focus. I wrote all of that out more to see if I could than for your interest, I'm sure...
One thing that's been interesting to see evolve is the groups in which people congregate. At first people new to London or just generally not confident to navigate on their own, kept with those who were more confident. This resulted in relatively large groups traveling together which is highly difficult and annoying. As time has gone on and people have become more confident in traveling and in their knowledge of the city, the groups have become smaller and more mingling is happening.
All that to say, the first official day of the trip, Friday, we had very little scheduled, so the six costumers headed out a little. We killed some time at the neighboring cafe, the Tinderbox.
(From left to right) Sarah, Julia, Kate, Molly, and Alycia is next to me and out of the line of fire.
Sarah was telling us a good story and I happening to capture their faces at the perfect moment.
Then we had a couple meetings and a brief local area tour (which left out that Diagon Alley is literally the next block over!) after which we ate at one of the many pubs in the area.
Katie, Julia, Molly enjoying their beverage.
Sarah and I with what we think are non-alcoholic drinks. It turns out "soft drink" can be loosely interpreted as many types of drinks, and at this pub means "still alcoholic even though not listed with other alcohols" Needless to say, I asked for a different drink pretty quick.
Not your typical looking pub food - a vegetable tart.
While being rowdy I looked over and saw a couple trying to have a romantic evening. So sorry, guys!
Really, REALLY happy for banoffee and sticky toffee puddings (which we shared to cut calories...)
Saturday is when things really started (more or less). We still hadn't officially been introduced to or learned the names of the people in the group we didn't know before hand, but a group meal and a city bus tour were on the schedule for the day. Brunch was in Spitalfields Market. I was really looking forward to pancakes and was extremely disappointed to find nothing of the sort on the menu. Once I got over that (it took a few sulky minutes) I decided that "bacon, fried eggs and bubble and squeak" sounded promising. They way it was described to us made it sound like a breakfast burrito and if you know me you know that I am ALWAYS in the mood for a burrito. Needless to say it was nothing like a burrito. It was, however, delicious.
Bacon, Fried Egg and Bubble and Squeak. The bubble and squeak is a potato base with some greens mixed in (it's been a long two weeks, so I don't remember the specifics...)
Treasures, and a view of the daily vendors.
The Wool Exchange! This area has been populated by silk weavers and other dealers in fabric for a long time. There are still tons of fabric stores reminiscent of the fabric districts of LA or New York.
So excited to venture out of the Spitalfields area!
View of the Tower, Tower Bridge, and the ... Mayor's Offices? I think that's right. It was obviously a beautiful day.
Our guide, Hugh, explaining about the recent expansion of the South Bank.
We got stuck in traffic, so I started taking pictures of people with interesting and bizarre fashions as well as playing with my camera settings. This is my favorite picture of the bunch.
Waterloo Hospital for Children and Women.
When we finally alighted the bus there was the incident of the public toilet which may or may not have involved a few of us climbing over the pay-barriers because we'd left our wallets on the bus... It wasn't actually that bad, but it's a confusing story better told in person.
I thoroughly enjoyed these birthday balloons posted in a posh neighborhood nest to Westminster Abbey.
We were able to walk around Westminster and Parliament, which was a blast - I really like both of these buildings a lot.
After our tour I took a nap and really thought I wouldn't do anything, but a friend knocked on my door and inspired me to try for a show. I was almost certain we wouldn't make it in time, but after the incident of calling the theatre by the wrong name and insisting I was right, we got student rush tickets for 10 pounds, walked into the theatre and the show started immediately.
(the "incident" actually was as follows:
Me: Hi - do you happen to have any student rush tickets for the performance of... er... I forgot the name of the show (seriously?) but it's in the Lyceum Theatre.
Ticket Guy: (concerned that I'm at the wrong theatre five minutes before curtain) This is the National Theatre, not the Lyceum.
Me: I know, but the National is comprised of three theatres...?
TG: Yes, but they are the Olivier, Lyttleton, and Cottesloe
Me: Oh! Lyttleton! It's the Lyttleton! *laughing* Sorry, I'm American (I really said that, folks. For real. *facepalm*)
TG: *luckily, laughing back in a with me sort of way rather than at me* Okay, so you're here to see "Travelling Light?" You have to go to the other ticket window for that.
I really liked the story and the production value at the National is always high. Set in Russia in the late 19th, early 20th century, it was a charming love letter to the early years of film.
Afterwards we wandered over to Le Pain Quotidien - a little French cafe for a post show bite. I got the Caribbean Veggie soup, which came with some delicious bread.
The cafe is under what was once an old part of a bridge.
Okay, it's 4:30am and I now know when it starts getting light. I guess I'll just have to stop there for now.