Thursday, April 19, 2018

I See London, part 2

Google London, Shakespeare Globe: Theater Tour & Match Stick Girl, Dinner (Indian) Tayyab’s & Alex Horne Show

Ken had a meeting and some work to wrap up so I 'allowed' it as long as he took me into the office with him to see this cool work space he kept describing. Those stairwells look like they could just switch around like the ones in Hogwarts and, like every Google office I've been in, there is such creative decor and details to see. They even have a kitted-out band room, because of course they do.

St. Paul's Cathedral

The Globe Theatre

In 1994 when I was going to school, this replica of The Globe Theatre was just being built. It's a genuine attempt to put Shakespeare's works in their physical context so audiences can get the full effect. If you are reading/listening closely, you can see mention in his various works of the theatre's attributes. Absolutely fascinating!

Unfortunately performances here don't start until the end of April. But we were lucky enough to see part of a rehearsal during our tour of the theatre itself. Hamlet is first up this season. 
To be or not to be....

They do have an indoor theatre replica that staged smaller plays of the time. It's mostly lit by candle light on giant chandeliers. In this picture not all of them are even lit. They are beeswax candles like they were back in the day so that sweet earthy smell would waft over us throughout the performance of a collection of Hans Christian Andersen stories. While well-staged and well-acted, anyone who knows his stories is familiar with how sinister and dark they actually are. Ah well.

Bankside on the Thames, across from St. Paul's Cathedral

London Eye or as Dave P says, the 'giant bicycle wheel'

For dinner we headed to an Indian Restaurant that had lots of buzz in the White Chapel called Tayyabs. The food was better than average but the ambiance left a little to be desired. No matter, one of the aims of this trip was to also sample food and restaurants that we would never get a chance to in the US or with kids in tow. Ken found a late comedy show for us to go to just a block away where we were staying in Soho. It was a practice/run-through for comedy special that a talented musical comedian Alex Horne and his band were due to record a week later. They are hilarious and remind me a little of the 'Flight of the Conchords' with more people and more polish.

Duck & Waffle Breakfast, Exploring the City of London, Bank of England Field trip
Musical: Chicago Matinee, Dinner Berners Tavern

Duck and Waffle does serve a cooked duck leg with a waffle but you can also go for something a little more traditional as I did. I'm not much into #foodporn or taking photos of food. But this deserved an exception. D&W is also on the 40th floor of a steel and glass building in The City which is the financial district of London with tall buildings and serious people walking around in suits.

Duck & Waffle

I guess this is art? 
Leadenhall Market

The Gherkin

I was really looking forward to seeing Chicago since I liked the movie so much and it just opened in London after a several year absence. Bottom line though: They can't all be good. Especially when you build your show around a charismatic guy who can't sing. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

What Americans call a 'tavern' would be what Brits call a pub but this was no dive. I discovered it on a list of good restaurants with notable interiors. It did not disappoint on any level. Who knew you could brine pork chops or make a pork pie in the shape of a bread loaf or make a creme brûlée with rhubarb or use bacon fat-washed whiskey in a cocktail? Impeccable food, great atmosphere and warm, friendly service from everyone.

Notting Hill & Portobello Road, Guided Tour of Parliament & Afternoon Tea, Play that Goes Wrong, Late Dinner: Spanish Tapas at Barrafina

Notting Hill/Portobello Road: Famous shopping street for little boutiques and antiques in a cute neighborhood

Until about 2 years ago, I wouldn't have had much interest in touring Parliament but with the machinations of our current government and a blossoming understanding of civics in the US, I was very keen to see how the Brits govern themselves. It is fascinating to see how the monarchy transitioned into a Parliamentary government (spoiler: by accident and/or laziness on the part of the sovereign). But we got to stand in the room where the Queen puts her 24 ft robe on before she officially opens Parliament each year and walk the same steps as she would to the House of Lords. Portraits, statues and gothic revival architectural style. Big Ben or rather the tower holding Big Ben was under repair. [Trivia bit: Big Ben is actually the name of the bell inside the clock tower.] Sadly, it doesn't look as impressive.

"Look kids, Big Ben."

We had better luck with our evening entertainment: Play that Goes Wrong which is like another one of my favorite physical comedy/slapstick play-within-a-play construct 'Noises Off'. We laughed so much and thoroughly enjoyed this play. It's also on Broadway and is touring to limited US cities. If you ever come across it, you must go.

Barrafina on the same street as our AirBnB. Always crowded. Amazing food.

To Be Continued...Part 3

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