Very long day. Well, I slept late at least, but I haven’t stopped moving since. It was nearly 9am when I got up. That’s not my norm on Sunday mornings, but then I normally have a large AJC waiting on me to read and I haven’t been operating 5 hours outside my normal time.
Once I got up and got out, I got on the Tube and headed to “Little Venice” – which is named after Robert Browning, the poet, who lived in the area and had lived in Venice before. It’s an area where a few of the inland canals meet. Beautiful area, of course, and expensive. Got there JUST in time for the first boat out at 10:30am. The boat ride is around 45 minutes. The guide told a lot about how the canals used to operate when they were used to deliver goods – before the 1920’s when motorized transportation really took over and the canals were nearly lost. Now, they are pretty much just for entertainment but at least preserved.
The end of the ride (unless you chose a round trip) is Camden Town. There’s a HUGE market there on Sundays. I managed to find myself a few things as well as the odd gift. Camden Town… wow… if you know Atlanta, think Little Five Points but multiply it by at least five. It was just more than you could take in at once. More different foods than I would imagine sampling in a life time. I ended up setting on Mexican… which was both my breakfast and lunch. I shared a table (full house) with a mother and daughter from Canada. Compared notes on where they’d been, where I’d been, etc. They wanted to got to Stonehenge. I told them you should be able to do the train/bus deal yourself but I’d done a tour. I pointed out London Walks was going there Tuesday. They said they might try that route! Anyway, after that, I wandered around for a good few hours checking out all the stalls and stores and what-not. And it just kept getting more crowded!
Afterwards, I’d planned to take the tube from there, but little did I know that on Sunday afternoon’s the crowds are so large, they close the Camden Town tube to EXIT only. You have to walk to (or take the bus if you can figure out the routes) another station and go from there. I decided to walk the “12 minutes” to Kentish Town station because it was on the same northerly line I needed to be on next… wow, I think it was more than 12 minutes, it sure felt like it. When I got on, I rode up a few stops to Archway Tube, which is where I’d read to go to get to Highgate Cemetery. Well, I forgot to bring the directions with me. But most times you get off the tube and there’s a tourist site nearby there are signs… not so here… I wandered and wandered. I knew I had to be in the right area because the name Highgate was on everything but not so much as one sign. Now, as I had given up and was just going to call it a wash, I happened to see a London Walks tour wrapping up. I knew there was one in Highgate this afternoon but had chosen to skip it to spend time in Camden Town. I also knew the walk ends near Highgate! I followed the people leaving it down the hill to the cemetery gates. There are two cemeteries, the western and the eastern. The later is newer by 20 years and looks much newer than that through the gates. Both charge admission to help in the upkeep of the cemetery. The east you can tour on your own, the west you must have a guide. I chose the west, and it was spectacular. Just imagine everything victorian dripping with moss, crowded by ferns and queen anne’s lace. I look forward to those pictures myself. The tour was, unexpectedly, led by an author from Chicago who was also visiting. I didn’t manage to remember her name, but her second book is to include Highgate, and her research there has turned her into a volunteer guide when she’s in town. She was very knowledgeable of the area. Maybe I’ll find out who she was one day – depending on the genre it might be of interest.
Leaving, I got far better directions back to the tube station. It meant cutting through a park across the street from the cemetery and probably a block and a half up from the Tube… uhm… nice… Oh well, I saw more of London anyway! A very hilly part I might add…
After hitting the train, I made the VERY long trek down to London Bridge Tube. I never had to change trains and napped part of the way. It covered a good distance in way less time than MARTA ever will. I was going to try to get in to see the Tempest. The schedule I printed from their website claimed that in addition to two matinee performances there was both a 6:30 and an 8:30 production today… I hoped maybe to make the 6:30pm, but figured I’d have to buy for the 8:30pm and come back later.
I got slightly lost getting off at London Bridge Station – which is one of THEIR recommended stations, why I don’t know. St. Paul’s would be a far better recommendation (much more direct path), but I wasn’t on that Tube line anyway, so for me it was a moot point. I showed up about 15 minutes before the 6:30pm performance. Found out that there was not an 8:30pm after all… hmmm?? They have a line outside for any leftover tickets that aren’t picked up and I was directed out there. There were a few people in front of me. Things were very informal. None of the tickets were from inside. There were people showing up to sell their tickets – none at a premium, i.e. not scalpers, they were selling at face value. I got a standing, i.e. “yard” ticket! I got to see the Tempest. Which now I’m going to have to read to entirely understand. I never liked reading plays, but this one was done with a small cast, so three actors played SEVERAL parts each. I followed most of it, but it took a good deal of the play to catch on.
Had an awesome time and me and my very tired feet wandered up to St. Paul’s to catch the tube up here (Leiscester Square area) for dinner and a little net time. I was not the only one tired after standing after 2 hours. All the “yardlings” were the first out, aside from being on the front lines of the performance, the only benefit is being out first. Every one went straight to the wall overlooking the Thames and sat down – myself included – took a few pics of the Globe and the crowd coming out. Oh, I also got a few pictures during the “curtain call” as we would term it in modern parlance, not that there was a curtain.
Well, two more full days left. Not entirely sure what the rest of the time entails. I am fairly sure that I’m going to take a London Walk’s tour of the British Museum tomorrow. One side of me says “been there, done that” but it wasn’t the most satisfying experience, so maybe better with a guide? We’ll see. The afternoon is possibly either a guided tour of Westminster’s Abbey or another tour I saw (sounds like the first half of the Explorer walk I decided not to do in the rain last Friday). Tomorrow is supposed to be decent (cloudy but dry). Tuesday is now looking like chance of rain. We’ll see – the weather doesn’t seem that predictable to begin with here.