Wednesday, July 10, 2013

London trip: Day 2 (July 5)

Friday was the big day of our trip. By the end of it, we were dragging our feet; it was the typical American vacation in which we crammed as much into the day as we could and we were tired.

C. and I started our day by visiting one of my favorite London museums, the Tate Modern. Admission is free to most of the museum (as it is with many of the museums in London) and we were treated to a free tour of the "Transformed Visions" gallery, as well. Many of the museums in town offer free or cheap tours of the collections, so it's a great way to get to know the art better. The tour was very good; the guide was extremely knowledgeable as he highlighted some works from the collection.

After the tour, we crossed the river via the Millennium Bridge. The last time I saw this bridge, it wasn't actually usable because the new millennium had just occurred, the bridge was new, and it swayed too much as pedestrians walked across it. Since then, the bridge has been fixed and it has since reopened to the public. We decided to stroll along and see where our adventures took us.

The next thing we knew, we were inside Hardy's Original Sweet Shop and were oohing and ahhing over the huge selection of English, and even American, candies. C. had been looking for some jelly babies, which are gummi sweets, which she found there. Wine gums were also available; they remind me of Jujubes, those chewy, gummi-esque candies that always threaten to pull out fillings. The clerk gave us a trial of rhubarb/custard hard candies. I was hooked and bought some of those as well as some cherry cola bon bons and some other interesting flavors. I bought a small bag of candies for about two pounds. Prices were reasonable and I would have chosen some more of the interesting flavors but a line was developing and I'm sure my teeth appreciate a limit on the candy.

From there we continued on toward Kensington Park and were totally distracted by the Urban Outfitters store. I wanted to stop in to look at their gag gifts. Well, we got sucked into the vortex of the interesting books they had. After some time passed, we realized that it was very close to the time on our tickets for entry into the David Bowie exhibit at the V&A so we pried ourselves away from the books.

The exhibit, David Bowie Is, was very interesting, and quite busy, as well. It was necessary to pre-purchase tickets because of the crowds; we purchased our tickets the day before. I really didn't know much about Bowie except for some ancillary "knowledge" gained through listening to songs from Flight of the Conchords. I found the exhibit fascinating and I wanted to listen to more of his music. It's so strange to me that Bowie is a contemporary of my mom; I was joking with C. and said that they were about the same age but my mom hasn't done half the cool stuff that Bowie has done. We wandered through the exhibit for about two hours.

After that, we limped on toward the South Bank (we had just about walked our legs off!) for dinner and some cabaret at the London Wonderground, part of the Udderbelly Festival. We were tired and didn't feel like walking far, so we ate dinner at EAT, which is somewhat of a cross between a deli, a small bakery, and a coffee shop. Most of the food was in the cold deli section but some warm meals were available, too. I ordered sweet potato chili soup, which was smooth and filling with a hint of spice. C. ordered mashed potatoes with gravy and a steak pie. She said both were delicious.

With sore legs but full tummies, we hobbled over to the Udder Belly Festival for that evening's entertainment, the London Wonderground. I asked for some directions and was told to walk through the "dodgems." I was completely confused until I saw the area being referenced; the show was set up in what looked like a carnival tent in the middle of a wooden floor with (what I would call) bumper cars. The bumper cars, or dodgems, were actually seating for the bar area. How clever!  I love the set up of the whole thing; it was very old timey looking with wooden floors and old fashioned posters.

The cabaret show, Friday Night Freakshow, was fun. The MC started the show by singing Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana in a lounge act style, which actually sounded quite good. We were then entertained by international comics, a hula hooper, bawdy singers, and more. C. had suggested the show because she knew how much I enjoyed the Detroit arts and entertainment scene, which has many performances like this. I definitely appreciated her suggestion.

It had been a very long, but enjoyable day. We were quite tired and sore so after the show we took the Tube back to the homestay.

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