Sunday, September 2, 2018

Travels with Debi: HELLLLOOOOO, London!

 I want it known that "Hello, London" should be read to yourself in a raucous, enthusiastic way, not sweet and polite.  And perhaps the tune to "tower of London" should be in the background as you say it.....  I am not asking too much I think!   London was amazing!

*** SO. MANY. LINKS contained in this post.....  have fun!

Many people have asked me what part of my trip I liked the best, and that is impossible to answer.  This was 2 different trips in one.  Departing from the countryside in Germany to  arriving in the literal center of London was quite a change.  I loved both parts so much, it would be like choosing your favorite child or, for me, deciding on my favorite season.  So much good in all!
Tower bridge

King's Cross Railway station
After my semi-traumatic trip by train, (I do plan to go and visit Paris properly, soon, YAY) I emerged from the halls and underbelly of that lovely train station to be greeted by a sight for sore eyes- Mr. Jonny Atter!  I may have to apologize to him for a truly overly enthusiastic greeting- some may say slightly hysterical- but that is my way.  There were big hugs all around for all of the people who met me after my various modes of transportation- I was so grateful to see all of them!

A very tired Debi in the garden at last
One corner of beauty

Mark and Jonathan's flat is a short walk from the train station, and it was so so lovely to finally sit in their beautiful little garden that is behind their basement apartment- all walled in and surrounded and protected. They have done so much with very little room.  It is just a joy to be ensconced in that little space.  We sat in the garden every day into the evening, what a wonderful delight.

I got to sit here and you should all be jealous

Water feature and Japanese maple- perfect 

A brief sketch of how I know Mark and Jonny enough to come and foist my presence on them for 5 days-  Mark was one of my art students back in the day.  It has been a hot minute or two since he has graduated, but that just doesn't matter.  We were pretty close when he was in school, but after he left to go to Chicago and then eventually back to Park Falls and then to merry old England, we became good good friends. Mark used to come visit me in the art room, sometimes do some art at night when I was working in my room, helped paint some scenery for the play (a wonderful redux) ....  eventually we were gardening friends and rumor has it that we may have bonded over sangria at one point before he moved across the proverbial pond.  I have spent time with Mark and  his Jonny every time that my favorite Pengie (that would be Jonny)  has come to see Wisconsin- every single time, I am honored to say.  I am always happy to have them here when they can enjoy our space and my gardens and all the things that they find special here.  Anyway, my biggest regret is that I did not go to their wedding, but hopefully this was almost as good.
Parthenon frieze portion

WHY no more pictures of this?? 

Interior of the British Museum

So Mark had to work on Thursday when I arrived, as well as the next day, so I got a quite expert tour of the central part of the city by my favorite English person ever.  I didn't even take my camera on the first afternoon as I was so over toting heavy things around that I just needed to be free.  We walked all over and saw so many buildings and parks and points of interest.  And the last stop we made for the afternoon was at the British Museum- which I had intended to get back to, but only saw it the one time.  And it was about 3 or 4 blocks away from their flat!  YOU GUYS I SAW THE ROSETTA STONE AND THE PARTHENON FRIEZES!!!!  I had a moment.  I actually had several.  We got there only about 45 minutes before the museum closed, so didn't have a ton of time.  I saw lots of Greek and Egyptian sculpture and it was just glorious.  Obviously I have to get back and see more. In case you are not an art person, this was a really REALLY big deal.

Covent Gardens

Covent gardens

The weather was just glorious there.  It was warm during the day but always cooled down nicely at night.  To protect their privacy I won't show any photos of the front side of their flat, or divulge details of where they live, but I will show you the garden!
This was the best view - wine glass in hand

No deer to eat all the plants either

The next day, Friday, we did a nice walking tour that included a ride on The Tube.  I hadn't been on an actual subway since I was in New York when I was in college.  This one was a whole lot nicer, let me tell you.  Where exactly we went I don't recall this moment, but I know that we ended up down by St. Paul's Cathedral and hopped on an old style double decker bus!  So fun!  We ended up over by the Tower of London and I found out some cool stuff about the River Thames.  Like it is a tidal river and I found out how the docks rise and fall with the water....  Really interesting.  We walked through some docks areas and ended up at a location called the Barbican Complex.  (The Barbs! :) )  I am highly disappointed I didn't take more pictures there,  but I was so busy gawking I guess I just didn't think of it.

And on the double decker bus with Jonny!

I believe this was the Dickens Inn

I don't even remember what this was....

I was just looking at a map of London and it is so fun to see the names of so many places that I was. Including the Subway stops!  I am really murky on what was when but the names like Russell Square, King's Cross, Charles Dickens highlights, etc.  I saw just so much in 5 short days that it is a jumble I hope to sort out when I start adding photos.  I may have to edit portions if Mark or Jonny have something to add or change.

I love wrought iron gates

One of the things I found interesting was how actually I wanted to know about history in Europe.  In school history was a massive snooze.  ugh.  But here I was constantly questioning- this is some remnants of the bombings in London.

I love the symmetry of this old Justice building

I can't quite remember this - but obviously it is an old part of the city that has been excavated and preserved
Tower of London (had no desire to go in, but loved seeing the outside)

Tower of London - such interesting stories of this place
I like to note that I manage to see some big-ass boats when I am out and about on holiday.  And this one was no different.  It is hard to differentiate, but there was a cruise ship, a couple yachts and then a few other things in this melange.
I LOVED how so many of the big buildings had colorful names- like the Shard!  

The Thames is a tidal river, and this dock rises and falls with the tides- who knew??

Another view of the Tower of London

Tower Bridge (not London Bridge, which is actually quite boring)

This is sort of a hard to find passage way to the Barbicon properties....
I wish I could say with more confidence what all of these things were and the stories and all.  I was very much overwhelmed at this point on the trip, but by the end I was beginning to become familiar with the landmarks I saw over and over again.  What a stunning city this is, and what wonderful hosts I had for my stay.  There is definitely more joys to come!

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