Well, we have arrived.
We have begun our journey, our travels, our new life on the road.
We first arrived in London at approximately 8am on April 17th unscathed, for the most part. Our luggage ended up costing us an extra $270 total, mostly due to our climbing pads; United charges a whopping $200 for the sports equipment...they first tried to charge us $400 ($200 each) but luckily, our new Organic pads link together pretty easily, thus seeming to be one piece of equipment. Oh and the $70 was for having an additional bag, which had the rest of our climbing equipment. So much for customer service when flying internationally...we now realize that the best way to use United miles is to book on other star alliance airlines, ie. Singapore airlines, where customer service is still part of their business model and they don't attempt to nickel and dime you...
We had already booked a room in London, using an online flat room rental site. The room, located in Maida Vale, was great but it was on the third floor, ugh as we had a lot of bags. The room wasn't quite worth $60 per night but hey, it's London, what are ya gonna do...London is a great city; the pubs are awesome, the Indian food is delicious and the mix of old and new architecture is awe-inspiring.
During our last day in London, we visited the Tate Modern museum, where we witnessed For the love of God, the diamond skull created by Damian Hirst and worth £50,000,000. A bit overkill but cool to see nonetheless. The most impressive piece of work that we saw at the Tate was Giuseppe Penone's sculpture, called Tree of 12 Metres, created from two wood beams, placed vertically, that were actually carved back into trees, branches and all, representing the form from whence it came.
After visiting the Tate Modern, we decided to stroll over to Burrough Market. Unfortunately, most of the market was closed but luckily, we did find some delicious drip coffee, by Monmouth, which reminded us of our favorite San Francisco coffee haunts, Blue Bottle, Four Barrel and Sight Glass. To accompany our coffee, we had a delightful little snack there, called a torta (sp?), a wafer-like cookie made from flour, water, brown sugar, fennel and olive oil.
For anyone going to visit London, the tube is the best underground around, well, at least compared to SF or Philly, both of which we have some...ahem...pretty thorough experience with. Getting around on the tube is so incredibly easy. We were told that the bus is best in terms of sight seeing while traveling but as far as efficiency, the tube wins out...
On our second and last night in London, we got to visit with Almudena Castro, a friend of mine from Madrid, whom I met during my solo travels around Barcelona about seven years ago. We met Almu in front of St. Paul's and went to this great pub nearby. Don't remember the name of the pub but the food was fantastic and filling, as traditional pub fare always is...Almu was a trooper and hung out with us until late on a "school night" and then bid us adieu as we journeyed back to our room in Maida Vale for our last night in the big city.
London is rad...we will visit again...when, I don't know but it WILL happen.
With love from the UK,
The first of many big grins.
Outside the Tate Modern.
For the love of God. Damian Hirst.
Giuseppe Penone, Tree of 12 Metres, 1980-82
Inside the Tate Modern
It has not stopped raining since we arrived. Not a constant down pour, but enough to make London feel exactly as everyone has described.