London definitely has a certain charm about it. I’m not sure if it’s the accent or the history or the posh style or something else, but there’s something about it that makes it feel like I may be living in a movie. To drum up this feeling even more, Lindsey and I tour Soho, where we drop in every other coffee shop for a flat white. The sun is out, the pastries are warm, and the coffee delicious – overall, a great morning activity!
At another break in wedding activities, we head over to Kensington Gardens, again met by Lindsey’s friend, where we enjoy a refreshing (and very sweet) Pimm’s Cup complete with Pimms, fruit, cucumber, lemonade and mint. To complement the Pimms, we eat some delicious scones and other snacks.
No British experience is complete without fish and chips, and maybe some chicken mushroom pie, both some of London’s delicacies that can’t be passed up. Between the wedding, seeing old friends, and diving into London’s sights, sounds and tastes, we leave the city with a true appreciation.
Although we don’t find Hugh Grant or Julia Roberts walking the streets of Notting Hill, we do find a rose petal latte at Farm Girl café that is unique, delicious, and beautiful.
On Saturday morning, there is an outdoor market lining Portobello Street. We stroll up and down and around the block, soaking up the pastel painted houses, antique pop-up shops, coffee cafes and pastry shops. It all makes for a beautiful morning.
The wedding is the main reason for this European adventure. One of my closest friends from grad school is getting married in London. It is an Indian wedding complete with many days of festivities, lots of delicious Indian food, beautiful flowers, British hats, big red buses, afternoon tea, and a grand finale in London’s Natural History Museum. The wedding is spectacular. Each venue is beautiful. Catching up with old friends is long overdue and feels great. The bride looks radiant. Each event features her in a new sari or dress. We felt so happy and honored to be able to celebrate with the very happy couple.
We remember first hearing of the famous Globe Theater back in middle school while reading Shakespeare and learning how it was first performed. Watching The Taming of the Shrew did not disappoint. The cast was spectacular. Their over-exaggerated expressions, the silly props and costumes, and the playfulness the actors and actresses have with each other on stage make the event wonderfully entertaining. Even when I mishear a line or don’t always understand Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter, the acting makes the scene come alive, and I feel as though I understand it all.
Accompanied by one of Lindsey’s friends, we watch standing near the front stage left. The open air theatre provides a fun appreciation for sunset as the first half of the play goes on. The many levels in the theatre, all of which don’t extend far back at all, make the theatre seem very intimate, which is aided by the actors engaging folks standing in the first row to help participate in their jokes and puns. Watching this Shakespearean comedy at the Globe Theatre is definitely one of our London highlights.
The trip starts with a stressful layover in Newark, NJ that included waiting for a 3-hour delayed flight, a thunder storm, circling above our destination, landing at the wrong airport in Hartford CT, and then finally getting lucky because my connecting flight in Newark was delayed enough to allow my first flight time to take off again and get there. After the redeye to London Heathrow, even though it is delayed by several hours, I am excited to exit the airport for some fresh drizzly air, some non-airport food, and a little touring around with my good friend Nabihah.
It is almost too convenient to take the Tube into London, where I first get off at South Kensington to meet Nabihah for lunch at a pub where I consume some local cuisine of fish and chips, a beer, and a coffee. Following “lunch” (the quotations are there because my body is a little confused what meal I should be eating at the moment, but the clock shows a late lunch), we walk around and find some delectable cookies to take with us on the Tube to our next destination, Big Ben. We walk all around Big Ben and proceed towards Buckingham Palace, because no trip to England is complete without seeing at least one soldier with a black fuzzy hat. Finally, before we part this great afternoon together, in true English style, we stop at a fancy afternoon tea spot and enjoy some hot tea and scones (scones is pronounced with a soft “o” in London).
Although only in town for a couple short hours, Nabihah showed me around her hometown of London all the while pointing out spots from her childhood memories. I am now ready for my second redeye in less than 24 hours as I head onwards to Ethiopia to visit my great college friend, Harya.