Friday, January 29, 2016

London - Week 1

Big Ben (not the Pittsburgh Steeler)

KLS' job officially reassigned her to London starting in September for six months on about 5 days notice.  Luckily, my current job lets me work remotely and was amenable to me joining her for a couple months.  I drove north to my amazing mom's house to drop off my dog, Sabah, and then hopped a plane to join KLS just before Christmas.

KLS picked me up at the airport around 8am, tossed me on the tube (subway), and then we jumped on a boat that runs the River Thames for commuters. Within minutes of getting downtown, I was passing by the London Eye, under the London Bridge, past the Tower of London, and under the Tower Bridge (what we all think the London Bridge is) until we arrived at our riverside flat (apartment) in Greenwich.  I hadn't slept on the plane much, but had two big reasons to stay awake. The first was to beat jet lag and the second was to see Star Wars. I chose my flight date to coincide with the release in London which was a day earlier than in the USA. I loved it!  It was like coming home again.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The first week after seeing Star Wars was a blur. KLS did her best to keep me awake by taking me on long walking tours around central London.  We mostly cruised by the major sites - Big Ben, the West End theater district, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, and did a lot of shopping to set up her new flat.

There were at least 5 buskers using this device to entertain in Trafalgar Square.

Trafalgar Square

A pretty typical busy scene in central London with tons of people and amazing buildings.

I never look at statues, but happened to look at this one and it turned out to be Robert Falcon Scott, of Antarctica exploration fame and tragedy.

There are so many open air markets in London.  They are not just chic shopping tents with expensive organic goods, though they have plenty of that too. A lot of these markets are where people walk every day, near the tube or rail stations, so that people can pick things up on their way home. It is a big cultural shift. It's fun. The Borough Market is supposed to be one of the best and is the oldest in the city at the end of the London Bridge.

Food stall.

Lychees, just in case my mom comes to London.

Grocery shopping is different in the UK. I do not know the rules and regulations, but everything seems to be a bit fresher. Maybe there are less preservatives because people stop at the market on their way home daily instead of stocking up once a month like we might at CostCo in the USA. When we have gone to larger grocery stores and stocked up a little bit extra, we have often regretted it because many things go bad so quickly - the baked bread, the vegetables, fruit, dairy, etc.

Happy KLS buying tasty fruit.

This is probably more types of mushrooms than I have ever seen at one time.

Blackheath Cathedral

Just a few miles south of us is a quaint London suburb, Blackheath, that has another great farmer's market and some cute shops. I don't have the vocabulary to describe English architecture, but this town had oodles of it. I can't imagine it being anywhere else.

At some point during that first week, Kin-Ling and I grabbed half price tickets to see Wicked. The theater scene is just like NYC.

The London Shard at night - a building we can see from the Thames.

Tower Bridge on our way home to Greenwich.

The Cutty Sark is dry docked in our neighborhood. It was one of the fastest clipper ships ever built (1869) and towers over both of our local transit stops, boat and rail.

KLS and Big Ben.

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