An overwhelming sense of culture, a magnificent ingredient of history, a city adorned with beautiful architecture and a little bit of Harry Potter magic; a potpourri of all offers you the luminous city of London.
Spotted! Meg & I out and about in good ol London Town. Six days of fun, frolic and all kinds of cuisine imaginable. Whether it’s shopping at Harrods, Soho, Westfield Mall or Camden Street, London has it all; everything the world can offer you in one great city. While, all Meg had on her mind was to shop for six days, I wanted to sight see everything under the grey weather. So a pact was made, Meg would accompany me to St Paul’s Cathedral, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, the Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey as long as we never forget to visit the gift shop and buy her something to fulfill her sense of achievement for the day . There was so much to see, from the Piccadilly Circus at Leicester Square to the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square; the city of London was set in the Monopoly mode and we just didn’t care where the dice would roll.
Penny joined our gossip girls crew two days later and we had to have dinner at this amazing Italian place down the road from Harrods, called Ciro’s Pizza Pomodoro, recommended by many a muggle folk back home, this was a must place to try for their infamous celebrity pizza’s and all other kinds of Italian food. Apart from Ciro’s, one other personally recommended place to eat is this cute little Thai place on church street in the town of Windsor right opposite the Windsor castle known as Thai River. Set inside a picturesque white washed pub complete with a cobblestone Alfresco terrace and a cozy homely vibe, you are sure to experience a country feel sitting out with fantastic food and wine. But honestly, the food anywhere in London was anything but disappointing, whether it was the Mexican food @ Chiquito or it was any restaurant in China town, you are sure never to experience a letdown with whatever cuisine you choose to eat that day. As a completely put off by salads person, the beetroot salad at the Brasserie Joel French restaurant at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London in particular was the most memorable dish ever to take back home.
Once you decide to move on past trying out the food and stopping by the countless Pret A Manger’s around the city, you will come to realize that there is a lot to learn out there too. Try stopping by the Tate Modern near the Shakespeare Globe Theatre along the River Thames which has on display Ai WeiWei’s sunflower seeds until May 2011, not only is this one of the most controversial exhibitions in Britain at the moment, the artist himself has been missing since 4th April 2011 after his house arrest trying to board a plane to Hong Kong. I am no expert at art but when you look at the billions of sunflower seeds lying in front of you, you think of two things – Where the hell did he get so many sunflower seeds? And then you realize you need to ‘Dig Deeper Dee’ and wonder – How small and insignificant are we to the universe out there? The exhibition had more of a spiritual impact on me than its intended political impact by the artist and it did turn out that these seeds weren’t real sunflower seeds so my first thought did actually made sense, they were made of porcelain, each seed stroked with lead paint and no two sunflowers seeds were exactly the same which was easy to comprehend and at the same time would have been hard to prove wrong. At the Tate Modern, some of my favorite art included Guano by Judith Reigl, Naked man with Knife by Jackson Pollock and all the six paintings in the room by Gerhard Richter depicting continual uncertainty. In the chapter of surrealism, one should not forget to check out the works of Pablo Picasso especially the sculpture of the head of a woman (Tete de femme) and what I thought was the highlight of the exhibition, A Mi Voix by Dorothea Tanning, a painting that was intended to be primarily set in white and grey tones but contained an embedded sense of color visible to the naked eye which I thought was quite remarkable.
The National Gallery like the Tate is free for admission and is home to some of the many famous works done by artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Monet. For people with very short time to spend at Trafalgar square (shame on you), the highlight tour is highly recommended with over 30 paintings to express visit which includes the self portrait of Rembrandt at the age 34 (also a part of the royal collection at Windsor Castle), sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh (such a blissful painting), the Ambassaders by Hans Holbein (don’t forget to check out the skewed skull at the bottom of the painting), the entombment by Michelangelo and my personal bestest (I know that’s not a word), water lilies by Claude Monet
Exploring London using the tube and the infamous red Double Decker buses is the best way to see the city for what it has to offer you, the high’s and the low’s. The people are friendly and the tube map is darn easy to read. Whether it’s getting lost on Baker Street trying to find your way to the Shakespeare Museum or it’s stopping by to buy chocolate pasta at the Borough Market, the public transport gets you to all the nooks and corners. We covered a lot! we lost 40 quid at the casinos on Leicester square trying to figure out the game of black jack, we saw the most popular west end production Wicked (which btw is totally wicked) broad way show at Apollo Victoria Theatre, we hopped on a train from Paddington to the outskirts of London to visit the Windsor castle, we spent a bomb shopping at New Bond and Oxford Street and once the budget bubble had finally burst, we decided to soak up some well deserved sun at Hyde Park for free.
By the end of the week, the last dreaded day had finally befallen the gossip girl crew and with nothing else to look forward to but the airport, we maneuvered our way towards Heathrow to board our plane with crestfallen and dejected faces only to look up at a billboard that read ‘Welcome to Heathrow, Europe’s biggest airport – makes the world seem smaller’. We smiled at each other; it was like we only just realized we were hardly a few hours away by flight and were absolutely certain we would come back.
So although I may not know the A for Art, the F for Food or the H for History but starting to learn ABC is easy once you get a great teacher; so thank you London, you have been great indeed.
You know you love me,