Saturday, April 2, 2011

English anyone?


Two weekends ago I was in London visiting some friends - I had an absolute BLAST with everyone! Also, I was stoked to be in an English speaking country for the first time since I left the US in September!  (I really like the word "stoked" really portrays the emotion well.  According to Urban Dictionary (which is obviously 100% correct - every time) ""stoked" - adjective - to be "stoked" is to be completely and intensely enthusiastic, exhilarated, or excited about something. Those who are stoked all of the time know this; being stoked is the epitome of all being. When one is stoked, there is no limit to what one can do.")  That word - stoked - sums up my weekend in London.  There was no limiting the amount of fun we had.

The trip started the customs line at the airport.  Now, when I first came to Spain, they barely even looked at my passport...I don't even think they opened it up to the picture page before letting me pass.  But going to London for a weekend, now that's completely different.  I arrived at the customs line and read the signs (in English!) UK passports, EU passports..."others".  I got in the "others" line and watched as everyone else walked right through...2 planes went through before I did!  Finally I got up to the counter they asked what I was doing in London.  I replied "visiting friends".  His response - "who?"  Are you really that popular that you know everyone in London?  "Matt and Chris."  "What is their address?"  I don't know...I have never been to their house, I don't even know my address in Spain!  Told him that...I don't think he liked that answer very much, but honestly what was he expecting?  Then he asked me when I was going back to the US.  "August".  Well that is not what he wanted to then I explained the whole study abroad thing and finally he let me pass.  Good thing because Chris was waiting and starting to worry...and Matt was stressing about the £1 fee for parking.  Let the fun begin!

After making it back to Matt and Chris’s house, driving on the wrong side of the road, and the wrong way around roundabouts, I got settled in and we went out to dinner at the local pub for a true UK welcome.  That night we celebrated with our good friends Will Ferrell and Steve Carell in Anchorman – as to provide us with some obnoxious quotes for the weekend. :)
The next morning we drove into London to spend the weekend at their flat in the city.  The flat was in a really cool neighborhood; kind of boho-chic meets yuppie up-and-comers – I could definitely get used to the great farmers market and bakery they have.  We got on the tube and headed into downtown London.  The first stop was the Tower of London.  It was pretty sweet although we did not go inside because it was around £20 to we just walked around the outside and took some fun pictures.  We walked over to Tower Bridge, commonly mistaken for London Bridge – which is just a little ways down the river and a lot less impressive.  We made our way across Tower Bridge and to the Borough Market.  This was quite possibly the coolest outdoor food market I have ever been to, even rivaling Madison’s Farmers Market.  It is set under the railway viaducts near the foot of Tower Bridge.  We spent a bit of time wandering around the market and then made our way back to the river walk towards Shakespeare’s Globe Theater and The London Eye.  We walked across the Millennium Footbridge (also known as the bridge from Harry Potter) and tried/failed to go to the oldest wine bar in London.  (next time!)  

Tower of London
Happy Hands caught in the beginning stages:)

Borough Market

yay sunshine!

Globe Theater

Harry Potter bridge

"Thumbs up for the London eye and Big Ben!"
The next morning we woke up to a beautiful sunny day in London.  We started out the day in Piccadilly Circus, which is not actually a circus but more of a city square (personally I think circus tents would add a nice touch).  From Piccadilly we walked to Trafalgar Square and spent a bit of time taking fun pictures and watching the Olympic countdown clock.  (Only 529 days!!!)  After all the excitement from the Olympic countdown clock we need a bit of a break, so we walked past number 10 Downing Street which is really quite depressing.  The street itself is not very appealing and the giant fence and guards with machine guns don’t really help the curb appeal.  I would not want to live there.  Just down the street is Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey (which is where the Royal Wedding is going to be).  We decided we wanted to rent bikes with the bike share program in London and ride around the city a bit.  We rode past Buckingham Palace, through some parks, and towards Soho.  We walked through Liberty, which I am told is the Harrods for Londoners.  Then around Soho for a bit looking at all the great shops and having coffee at the best Italian coffee shop outside of Italy.  Bar Italia – definitely recommended.

Piccadilly circus

Trafalgar square

ummm yeah...

best photo of the weekend? 

yummm!  (Also my dad has never been there.  I have.)

My favorite alley

That was my last night in London, as we headed back to Matt and Chris’s house the next day.  But not before exploring the best farmers market ever, and spending the day sitting in the park enjoying another beautiful day in London!  That evening we had plans to go out to dinner for curry – because one cannot visit London without having curry.  The curry was great and thanks to Carol and Helen, it was one of the funniest dinners I have ever experienced.  Unfortunately it was my last night in London and I had to head back to Madrid the next morning.  I had a GREAT time in London and can’t wait to go back!  (Maybe graduate school??)  Thanks Matt and Chris for everything!     


G as in Chris said...

Great post, Al! We had so much fun having you! So sorry to see you go, but we hope you'll come back again...well, anytime you want to, really.

Seeing the pictures brought lots of smiles and laughs this morning, especially the one of the three guys at the palace gate. That was so funny!!

Big hugs!!


Caia no Mundo said...

Hope ur having a good time ther Ali. Keep enjoying everything cuz u know ull miss it a lot :(
Miss u lady!
Have fun xx