Saturday, July 19, 2008

London Calling

it's been a while since either of us have blogged. how appropriate though, we are both major procrastinators.
i did turn 29 on april 9th. So, for part birthday gift, part opportunity to travel cheap (or atleast we thought) Ron took me on a London/Liverpool trip. Doesn't that sound romantic. He had to take a courier trip to deliver a piece of artwork to the Liverpool Walker art gallery. i have been to London before, but this was the first time to liverpool.

tues. april 1, 2008
travelling by myself, ron 3 days ahead of me.
off to the airport, flight at 7.05pm. plane gets loaded, and we wait, and wait, then, the captain comes on " uhh, folks, you know how.............uh, cars get little dings and scratches, well, planes get those too." Plane groans, panics, eyes pop out of sockets. "We are having the mechanics check it out, log it and see what meets regulations. i will be back in the cabin to answer any questions you might have." captain comes back, answers questions, holds his fingers up to show the size of the "dent", time passes... " folks, we are free to go, they said it's safe to fly? meanwhile, i'm sweating the whole time. plane lands safely in chicago.

11.15 am, wed. april 2,
chicago flight lands in london, i find my way to the heathrow express. 15 mins. later and i'm at paddington station in london. another hour later, after underground tube gets terminated, and a brave leap onto another, i'm at Euston station with an hour to spare. i grab a bite at Upper crust ( a brilliant baguette sandwich shop), and wait for my platform announcement. i met a lovely older couple from liverpool, just getting back from belgium. they were very helpful with travel information and getting me on my train. their description of everything was "brilliant".
i boarded the train, First class i might add, and took my seat across from a middle-aged-woman i came to know as Sue. she was very nice to speak to, and treated me like a daughter, offering aspirin for my headache, sharing in a glass of wine, taking care to wake me when we arrived, and giving me a lift in her taxi to the premier inn, where ron and i stayed.

liverpool is cozy, dreary, winding, and full of drunk people. the latter part is so true. or maybe that only happens on grand national horse race weekend.
i arrive at the hotel, ask for ron weaver's room. i was handed a key and told the room number, which i thought was scary, they don't know who i am. 20 minutes later after laying down for a nap, ron walks in out of breath. he had gone to the train station to pick me up. awww!!
we took a long nap and out dinner around 10. we found a great rustic italian place up the street called Piccolino. we had some great risotto and a nice bottle of wine and we were ready for bed.

thurs. april 3

after a full english breakfast in the hotel lobby, including vegetarian options, ron had to help hang the piece of artwork at the Walker, so i went along with him. i was able to enjoy the museum while he worked.

after, we decided on a double decker bus tour of Liverpool. the quickest and best way to see the city. we unfortunately were on the last bus of the day, so we couldn't get off to enjoy any sites. since we were the last bus, and 2 of 4 people on it, we talked the driver into a deal.

We passed the Cavern, where the Beatles played some of their first shows, the old and beautiful cathedrals, the river front with the ferrys across the mersey. it's an old town with lots of brick buildings with new modern buildings popping up and it just works. our tour guide was a recording and the message kept saying, "Welcome back!" after every stop, even though no one was getting back on. when the tour was done we walked back the the albert docks, with lots of cute shops and restaurants. everything was closed. so, it was on to Primark for some shopping. it's like a H&M, but much cheaper. after closing down the shop, we were hungry and wanted some fish and chips. all the restaurants and bars were packed with Grand National hats and drunks. we were told to go to Lobster Pot. we asked a cop directions and his reply "oh, Chippy!"

i guess that's the quick way to say fish and chips.

we arrive and realize it's just a walk in shop, no seats. we decide to get a piece of fish since it is the best "Chippy" in town. verdict: fantastic! the piece of fish was huge and it was deep fried in batter, kind of greasy, but tasty. we headed back to a sit down restaurant for more chippies, not as good, but the beer was cold.
then off to find a good pub. our first stop was the Poste House, a bar full of young ones, tucked back on a dark side street. there, i had my first introduction to a singer called, Mika, ... our last stop of the evening was an old pub, White Star, along a street full of Euro Clubs. we had our first Carling, and sat in a back room with a group of old men, drinking whiskey, and singing english songs of old. one gentleman introduced himself and said they've been coming there since they all worked at the telephone co. together. every thurs. they meet up for a chance to get away from the wife.

fri. april 4

we got up early to eat, and catch our train. be careful, the train system is a little tricky. we waited 15 minutes, to catch a train, only to realize we were waiting on the wrong platform. even though we had bought tickets with virgin, we were on a different line. it was much slower and we had to get off and hop on a different train at a mid stop. when we arrive at the hotel we are told the room isn't ready and we are sent to wait in the concierge. we decide to drop our bags off at the desk and head out to the Tate Modern. we walked the River Thames. everyone was out, the weather had been cold up until then. the Tate was showing Doris Salcedo’s Shibboleth, a long crack that spans the length of the museum.

we walked across the millenium bridge to St. Paul's Cathedral. right across the street was a Yo Sushi. it was early, but we decided to eat.

after a short nap and shower, we went out to Piccadilly Circus, the theatre district, for the evening. it was so busy with people, guys hustling to get you in their club, people selling theatre tickets, and tons of street acts. we walked around so long, all the bars started closing and we missed getting a drink. back the hotel for some much needed sleep.

sat. april 5

we ate in the concierge, then off to Camden Town Market. Vendor after vendor of the same things, super hero tees, followed by doc martin's, followed by the same girls clothes, it's never ending. it is one thing you should not miss though. anyone from business men to punks with mohawks can be seen hanging out. back into london, we stopped at Pret a Mange, a sandwich shop you can find on most corners, outside the National Gallery. my sister , beth, reminded us to check out the Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife. it's much smaller than i imagined.

then, up to oxford street to exchange some clothes at primark's flagship store. it was wall to wall people. the return line was 2 hours long. by that time we were starving so, out to Brick Lane for some Indian food. everyone we stopped said, you can't go wrong with any of the indian restaurants. were they wrong. we were approached on the street for a place called Chutney's, we were offered a free drink and 10% off the meal. i could say it was just alright. everything we ordered tasted sweet. i think they had some spices mixed up in the kitchen. we got back to the hotel, took a nap and wanted to go out for the night, but ended up having a drink in the hotel lobby and staying in for the night.

sunday april 6th
we had big plans to get up and do something before we had to catch the plane. instead, we looked out the window to see snow blanketing the ground. we ended up taking our time getting to the airport, stopping by parliment and big ben for a lovely photo op before we left.
we ate lunch at a pub in the packed airport. a 30-something bloke named, "nick the pom", approached us and asked to join us. he sat with us til we left and kept buying us drinks. he was heading to australia, for good. we think the english government was after him or something. it was a little odd, a little sketch, but it passed the time. on our way home, Ron and i watched two awesome movies (not really), "National Treasure II" and "Enchanted", which he asked me never to mention to anyone. sorry, Ron! - The End

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