Saturday, July 09, 2005

London

Blogger Goes to London We spent the first four days of our trip in London. Recovering from two overnight flights in a row plus jet lag was a bit of a pain, but it was exciting enough to finally be in England that it didn't matter much. We stayed in room 404 of the Leisure Inn, but we managed to find it every time.

We did get tube passes but ended up walking places the vast majority of the time (as we did for most of the rest of the trip as well). It's more fun to be out and actually moving yourself around the city than to be tunneling around underground everywhere. We did a rough approximation of the Jubilee walk on one of the days, to see a lot of the famous sights, and similar amounts of walking the rest of the time. I am glad beyond words that I decided to get new shoes and insoles before I left.

On Saturday night, we took a mess of public transportation out to Hackney for the Cotton Clubbers' Honey Pot Dance Battle. This was a swing dance competition (followed by social dancing, of course) but in a different form than I had seen before. It was a competition between teams of 4 or 5 couples and two teams at a time would line up on either side of the dance floor and be given two swing tunes in a row. They'd use the intervening floor space to dance at each other in couples or groups, with constant trading off of musical phrases and dancing space. There was a lot of good dancing, along with a lot of general silliness, so it was highly entertaining.

Outside the Globe One of my favorite things we did in London though, was seeing a play at the Globe. For £5 you can get a standing spot in the yard, which, if you're early enough, means that you can stand literally right up against the stage. It is more than worth 2-3 hours of standing and a crick in the neck to do this. We saw A Winter's Tale, which was an "original practices production," meaning they approximate as closely as possible the way in which it might have been performed in Shakespeare's time. It was absolutely fantastic. If you're ever in London and want to see a play there, don't spend more money for a seat, just get right down there in front. There's nothing like it. Also, the music was excellent. I need to get myself some renaissance music some time.

We passed enough amusing street performers along the banks of the Thames that I think they deserve a mention here as well. Perhaps the most gimmicky was a tightrope-walking saxophone player. We also got a neat magic show from a young man named Charlie Caper (great name!) and talked to another guy named Storm who's playing guitar on the streets as he hitchhikes around Europe. I was particularly fascinated by an old man with wild white hair and beard, dressed in a t-shirt, sweat pants and ribbons, and playing violin. He was playing classical music (I don't know what, specifically), and playing it quite well too, but with an incredible energy and excitement that made me think more of fiddling than anything else. I loved it.

Other random tidbits:

3 comments:

Stephen said...

We stayed in room 404 of the Leisure Inn, but we managed to find it every time.

BAD GRAHAM! What's sad is it actually took me a few seconds to realize that joke...

Eric said...

You visited the Sherlock Holmes museum??? Did you by chance see Danielle Meroit's signature? I know there are a lot of those but that (or the signatures of Clara Brooks, Lionell Cartwright, Marion Gray, Jonathan Ayudaren, or Michael Carter) would amuse me highly. Highly, I tell you.

Paul said...

> It's more fun to be out and actually moving yourself around the city than to be tunneling around underground everywhere.

I lived in London for two years, and one of the best things to discover is the bus network. Now anytime I'm going to London for a business meeting, I get off the Tube as soon as I can and finish my journey by bus.

Sadly though, the traditional London Routemaster buses are being phased out now, with modern low-floor accessible buses replacing them. Two more routes go at the end of July, and the remainder will be gone by the end of 2005.

I'm not a Londoner by birth, but these design classics will forever remind me of the city.