Friday, November 19, 2010

uk trip-- day 4-- london again

our second day in london began later than our first. leff, groc and i were starting to need some rest. my fault, really, as i tend to be a task mistress while on vacation. (sorry, groc's feet.)

we probably should have started earlier however, because we were late in meeting jens at the newton statue in front of the british library. (sorry, jens!!)

i do feel particularly bad about our tardiness as jens had traveled from germany on the eurostar just that morning after having connected from another train. sigh... we're terrible.

anyway, the british library is my dream home. in addition to the sheer staggering beauty of the king's library

(leff's photo)
(leff's photo)

there is also a room full of treasures! obviously, photography is not allowed so here're some bullets for you.
  • the magna carta has its own room and, boy, does it ever deserve it! hell, give the document a whole wing! seeing it was more important to me than viewing the constitution in d.c. (although, that may have something to do with the fact that i saw the constitution at the age of 13 and the magna carta at 37. )
  • the audubon folio was much larger and more impressive than i could have possibly imagined.
  • i could live inside of illuminated manuscripts and be happy.
  • virginia woolf's handwriting gave me hope as hers is even more illegible than mine. heh.
  • the original alice in wonderland made me do a discreet little happy dance in front of the case. (i hope no one noticed.)
  • sadly, beowulf was not on display as it was being moved to another exhibit. (it was one of my main reasons for wanting to visit. please don't make me explain my love of epic poetry. it's hard to put the feelings into words. plus you'd find out how much of a super nerd that i am. (like you couldn't guess that already. heh.))
  • beethoven's tuning fork is tiny!
after the treasury room, jens and i decided to find the way up onto an isolated platform. what? it was like a video game challenge! plus, i hate not knowing how to get into hidden rooms.

it didn't take us long and it was somewhat gratifying to enter a "friends of" room that we were (more than likely) prohibited from entering. particularly in light of the fact that the reading rooms are off limits unless you put in a request months in advance. (it's understandable though. i mean, it *is* a research library. who wants to be interrupted by a bunch of tourists while they're working?)

i could have spent the rest of my life in the bl but tate modern was calling. so we bid the library goodbye,

checked some maps (ok, leff and jens checked some maps.)

and headed to the tube.

any time that i see "king's cross" it gets the super furry animals stuck in my head. no reason really, it just does.

st pancras station is BEAUTIFUL!

i wish that i'd had time to go inside! (jens says that it's impressive. he also looked up the manhattan loft site that's advertised in that photo and, holy f--k, is it ever prohibitively expensive!)

once we arrived in bankside, i saw my first blue sign. aww, keats and stephens!

it's located near the grape face (actually named "bunch of grapes" and not a bad pub! we returned there later that night.)

this was not the best day for me as 1) my camera battery was flat (this is why you'll be seeing other people's photos) 2) my feet were in such agony that the only way i could walk was to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other. over and over and over again.

not easy when the streets are bumpy and have giant cones on them.

when we reached the golden hinde

it was really all that i could do to keep from crying. (and i don't cry in public. in fact, i don't cry much at all because i am hard core. heh.) i was actually grateful that leff and groc wanted a coffee at caffe nerd so i could lean against a bank building and alternately lift my feet while talking to jens.

i was also able to get this really crappy picture of the winchester palace remains.

i wish that my feet had been in better shape because this really was a spectacular area. i got my first real glimpse of st paul's!

we passed the new globe where groc and jens became fascinated by the strata!

i saw part of the gherkin!
and the tate modern building was HUGELY spectacular!

(leff's photo)
even the light was amazing!
but i could appreciate none of it because i felt like i was going to barf/commit sepaku if i had to walk one more step. sad, really.

i mean, once we got to tate mo, a museum that i have been excited about visiting since, god, who KNOWS? i had to sit on a goddamned bench for an hour. (this is not like me. i am normally able to disassociate myself from pain, keep going and recuperate once i get back to my home. no dice this time. it was that bad.)

i didn't get to see the ai weiwei up close.

groc and leff took a lot of pictures of it though and brought them back to my bench for me to see. (aaw! thanks again, guys!)

(leff's photo)

(groc's photo)

one thing i was able to admire while seated was the vastness of a building that was a former power plant. the tate modern building is a glorious cathedral to modern art.

after my respite, i forced myself to limp through the galleries. it was *so* worth it even though 1) i had to cover my head again due to image overload 2) we lost groc somewhere in the middle of the second floor (and i was having too much trouble figuring out groc's spare mobile to text him) 3) we were unable to meet up with kev and his ladyfriends.

there was warhol!


(jens' photo)

my favorite futurist sculpture EVAR!
and this insanely intense cy twombly room!
tate modern could be my summer home when i need a break from the bl!

we had a light dinner at the museum which was good as we were all wiped out. while we were there, groc ordered a scone with clotted cream and jam for me to try.

we also experienced the fury of...the gift shop. where i got a tate pencil sharpener (useful!) and groc threw a pound coin under the cashier's desk by accident. oops.

tat bought and stuffed into bags, it was time to find a touristy pub. this actually turned out to be harder than we thought. (it was friday night. it makes sense.) the first place that we tried was full and very long. we kept walking and walking through room after room of crowds of drinkers until we finally came to a room that was entirely empty...and available to book for parties. ha!

obviously, they weren't serving there, so on we soldiered until we found a place near the golden hinde where it was too full inside. we opted to grab a seat outdoors. in november. near the thames.

i make it sound a lot worse than it was. leff was the coldest of us all as he had decided to not bother with a jacket that day. after a round, it was decided that we should find a warmer spot which is how we ended back at the grape face. (they had a working fireplace! it was *wonderful*!)

our day of visiting with friends, sadly, drew to a close with groc and jens heading off in one direction at the tube station and leff and i heading in the opposite. (i can't wait to see jens again in a few years in tokyo!)

our day of full british immersion had not ended, however!

leff and i headed back to paddington where we grabbed the train to reading. it was running behind schedule but everything was fine even though there happened to be a group of football fans sitting next to us.

i'll admit, i'd heard horror stories of football boyos. of riots at games and just general awful uhm...awfulness so i had a stereotype in place. (bad me!) thankfully, this group of guys made me see just how wrong my assumptions were!

the entire trip to reading was really funny! two of the men were clearly taking the piss out of the other two and it was amusing to watch. (one of the guys would occasionally catch our attention and roll his eyes at the whole thing.).

also, they would apologize for being in people's way. they offered to buy leff a drink! and, here's the best part, when leff and i were sitting at a bench at the station (i was resting my feet in anticipation of the walk back to kev's)

(leff's photo)

two of the guys came up to us and apologized for their behavior on the train! how insanely polite! why was i ever wary of football fans before? i should have asked them if they'd seen that ludicrous display last night. heh!

leff and i were pretty hungry after our long day out so we stopped by a kebab shop and got some dinner. man, are british kebabs the best!

i could eat these every day! i'd probably die of a heart attack, but i could REALLY eat these every day!

there is one bad part of the day left, however. i couldn't get my left clodhopping boot off of my foot without help. this would be because it had swollen to one and a half times its normal size! my sock was cutting off circulation to my foot! gah!

thankfully, we had chosen the following day as our buffer day to just sort of hang out and relax. unfortunately, i was to soon find out that one day would not be enough... duh duh DUUUUUUHN!

some extra thoughts
  • when a former gp looks at your foot and makes this...slight should really just pay attention to him. things are bad and infection is a possibility.
  • the tate modern is a whole day affair. if you're going to visit, see the tatemo and the tatemo only. it is HUGE!
  • when i walked into one of the tate modern's galleries, i felt as if i had physically stepped into my art since 1945 textbook. it was AWESOME!
  • cobblestones can bite me.
next update: i start recuperating and leff explores reading and discovers the wonders of primark. it's actually more interesting than i'm making it sound! check back soon!

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