24.10.2014 - 31.10.2014 15 °C
I took a week out of my October holiday to visit London - a city I'd yet to explore. As expensive as London can be, I was able to find cheap flights and I stayed with a friend, which made it feasible and fun to be there for a week.
Up until now, I'd sort of felt like Nice was a moderately large city. When I arrived at Oxford Circus, the area made Jean Medecin, our main shopping street, look like the country, and our single tram line seem awfully cute compared with the vast Tube network. This was the most frustrating part of the trip because, with no internet nor sense of what was where, I was limited to the tourist maps posted on street corners to locate an address - turns out these are not oriented by cardinal directions, so that meant a lot of aimless and backtracked wandering through massive shopping crowds with a heavy bag. Once past that part, the rest was great! Spent loads of time wandering around the city - here are the highlights:
1. Craft Beer - not to be found in Nice, (though we have found a few flavourful ones) London has variety Despite my efforts, Nick is still stuck on lager.
2. Toy Taxis - they're so cute, and they're everywhere! Now I understand the origins of our PT Cruiser. Can't (nor would you) find a taxi in Nice to save your life!
3. English reading material - it was a novelty to pick up a free evening paper and all the headlines went directly into my brain without thinking.
4. Used book stores - in the same vein, but this is even better than #3. Used book stores are up there with coffee on the list of my favourite things, and in one place by Camden Lock, I found a new book by Ian McEwan that turned out to be a gem with a London setting.
5. Parks....lots of them, with so much extended green space. This was refreshing, especially with the couple of beautiful sunny days I had for roaming.
....and then, only in the UK, horses training in Hyde Park:
6. The red theme that permeated the city - red phone booths and buses everywhere - does any other city do that? Had to get the token photo (top)
7. Street food - Nick and I hit up both Camden Lock and Borough market for some really tasty eats, which included scallops and Greek style goat
8 Architecture: All very visually appealing (thought not the Tate gallery! - ugly smoke stack of a building) On the last day I spend in London, Nick and I had a drink on the 32nd floor of the Shard - had the best view of any bathroom I'd ever before used.
9. The culture. I had not realized how many shows there were playing ALL THE TIME in London, but there they were - theatres everywhere. I feel the need to come back and spend lots and lots of money on shows. Thinking about it now, I should have taken some shots of the many theatres and billboards, but that would have seemed silly at the time. Did see one on Saturday night - The Woman in Black - a spooky and thoroughly entertaining play that was timely for the approach of Halloween, Also did a few of the museums while I was there - found a few treasures at the British Museum:
Loved the Science Museum and the Tate gallery was a great way to finish off the trip.
10. Hanging out over drinks with friends - this actually belongs at the top of the list. Nick, we should have got a picture at the Shard! Next time
Awesome week in London, and must go back for more shows and beer! (and to visit you, Horia! So sorry I missed you!)
For everyone back home, I'll give a little update on our eve- evolving plans. We're staying....for a while. We are no longer sure when we are coming home. I'm determined and resolute that Nice is not my home, nor ever will be, and that we'll be drawn back to the West Coast sometime in the next couple/few years, but Luke loves it here and I can't ignore the awesome job I have. It makes sense in many ways to stay for a while, and I'm not unhappy here either, much as I still miss Victoria and our life there. (and more importantly, those of you reading this) Luke is working less in the marine industry now as "winter" approaches, but instead for a couple of construction people in old town Nice, who have contract jobs renovating apartments, etc..., so he's happily getting work and at the same time, not tied down to a job with fixed hours.
I'll be back for a visit next year, likely without Luke, as he needs to work in the summer; we'll be sorting out our stuff somehow and likely selling most of it (sniff), but if plans are in the works for another canoe pub crawl, pig roast, Pender trip, backpacking trip, etc.., count me in - I'll be there from about mid-July to mid-August.