Thursday, April 22, 2010

Eye spy, musicals and markets

Our first real day in London was devoted to the more standard tourist fare. Luckily, since I'd been there before, Tom was spared the Parliament/Buckingham Palace/Westminster Abbey part of the itinerary, but he was appalled that I had neglected to ride the London Eye. We rectified that pretty quickly, and I have to admit that the view of the Thames and Parliament and the crescent-shaped aquarium from the Ferris wheel pod was totally worth it.

The other big thing I hadn't done last time was go to see a show in West End. Buying half-price last minute tickets was much easier than in New York, and the area was much cuter, more compact and more pedestrian friendly than Broadway but with no less energy or neon. Despite my reservations about seeing a show set in New York whilst in London, we settled on Avenue Q, a parody of Sesame Street complete with muppets, songs and animation, that chronicles the quarter-life crisis following college graduation. I thought the vocalist that played Nickie/Princeton was a little weak, but overall it was a good production and a hilarious show.

Saturday was market day, so we headed first to Notting Hill to browse the antiques and other wares for sale on Portobello road. (In case you're wondering, the picture is of a collection of antique sewing machines). We listened to street musicians as we noshed on a vendor picnic of chorizo sandwhiches, marinated olives and dried fruit, then headed over to the more counter-culture markets of Camden. The crowd there was an odd mix of hippies and goths, dreadlocks and mohawks, but overall a very friendly, easygoing group. With its squat, waterside brick buildings, Camden reminded me a lot of Baltimore (I wonder if B-more's look was inspired by Camden?) We bought a pint of ale from a lock-side pub and drank it under the willow trees beside countless other 20-something couples and friends.

We met up with a couple of Tom's college friends just as the sun was setting for a stroll along the Thames, followed by dinner and cocktails. Perfect weather, perfect day.

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