A day in London
02.03.2012 - 03.03.2012
Under the cover of night we fly in. Scattered in a way only a 24 hour flight can induce, it seems we slowly start to materialise into the real world. Vague and tired, it is only the glimmer of excitement that pushes us forward, clawing and fighting its way through the mental haze, determined to take control. This place after all is responsible for its creation, for its existence. And finally excitement meets its maker, in London.
And that how we arrived, during Londons dawn, tired but enthusiastic. The city itself greeted us with a think fog. Our brains, just as cloudy as the sky, attempted to navigate our way from Heathrow to West Hamstead where we would be staying. If Londons weather is described as dreary and miserable, then the same can be reflected in its people, well, its early morning commuters at least, appearing as lifeless souls passing through the spirit world. That, and everyone we asked assistance from, including public service agents, seemed to offer it begrundgenly and with an air of contempt.
Luckily for us we were soon greeted with the warmth of our generous hosts, who opened up their gorgeous home for us on a cute and quintessential London street. Energised by such friendly hospitality we dumped our bags and headed straight out into one of the worlds great cities.
Still a bit scattered, we headed into Londons underground and caught the tube to London Bridge. Nestled at the foot of the bridge laid Borough Markets, a farmers/food market recommended to us for its awesome cheesecake. Stepping into the stalls of produce, we were hit with a sensory slap across the face. With all kinds of fish and meat, fruit and vegetables, wines and juices, breads and deserts, this place had everything, the spices and smells seemingly coursing through our veins and erasing any of the fatigue we came in with.
After wandering around and taking it in, we decided to try a very popular looking coffee shop. Very cute and cottage style in its interior, it seemed we had stepped into our first coven of the trendy, vain and some would say snobby bourgeois cafe culture, where it appeared the Burberry clad socialites were there to be seen rather than enjoy a coffee. But, as a traveller and an observer I tried not to be judgemental, but did have a little chuckle to myself. They were probably doing the same to me. The coffee itself though, awesome.
We continued to explore the markets in the shadow of a beautiful old church, treating ourselves to some cheesecake, and Mel, a sneaky hot dog, which by all accounts was delicious. Our great way to start our Friday morning.
From there we went for a stroll, admiring the cities people and architecture. We walked along the not so remarkable river, and then decided to check out the very touristy Tower of London.
Soaked in a bloody history, the buildings and surrounding battlements gave us an authentic feel of Londons past. I myself had no problems envisioning (or remembering) heaving a battle axe into the chest of a marauder scaling the outer walls, defending the keep for King and country. We viewed the obligatory Crown Jewels and gold ornaments, and trekked through the armoury halls, where I am sure Mel gave thanks that our home didnt look quite this gaunt and full as weapons, as knowing me it could well be.
After taking some shots of the Tower Bridge, we again set out on foot through the streets, getting a sense of the flow of the city.
What I immediately noticed and loved walking through the infrastructure was the seamless integration of old world artefacts and architecture within modern development. The way a cobblestone path can wind between an all glass office building or how a sleek and modern department store can perfectly frame a Gothic masterpiece, is an absolute marvel. Its is something I admired greatly in Japan, and one that is sadly lacking in the comparatively infantile Sydney.
We walked onto St Paul’s Cathedral, humbled by its scale, detail and overall beauty. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed inside due to a prayer session. Trust religion to ruin something as lovely as a church. So disappointed and starting to tire, we poetically crossed the Millennium Bridge to the Tate Modern art gallery. We finished up the day here looking at some cool artwork, from young up and coming artists to famous favourites. I must say that I am still stopped in stride when I see a Dali. I am no art critic, but his subject matter and execution really hits a chord with me, and I feel deeply connected with his themes of disconnect from the world and a sense of longing for something lost. If I was talented enough to express how I view the world it would definitely be in the surrealism forum, deeply influenced by Dali's fearless creativity.
At that stage the fatigue started to hit and we made our way home. I must say though that London was originally just our easy entry point into the EU, and didn’t inspire much desire to explore. However, after only one day we fear that we may not get to see all we want, but am excited about giving it our best shot.