First off, 1.5 days in London was not enough. But considering the limited amount of time, we sure covered a lot of ground. It was mostly on foot via slip-on Converse Chuck Taylor's for me, which as I discovered were not meant to be worn for a long time for the sake of my pinky toes.
We arrived in Heathrow on a chilly and rainy day around noon. It took us no time to get to our hotel Novotel in Islington which was right next to the St. Pancras station and the British Library. Excellent. After transforming into European hipster wannabes, we felt it was our first and foremost duty to find the nearest pub to get a couple of pints and fish and chips. No surprise, pubs were everywhere and filled with soccer fans pumped up for the the World Cup taking place in South Africa.
We decided to head towards the water and explore anything and everything on our way there. We stopped by local organic grocery stores for occasional refreshments and snacks. Cafes were also an excellent rest stop for some on-site sketching and caramel/chocolate pastries.
There were plenty of nice parks surrounded by curvy brick apartment buildings equipped with matching big brother cameras. As we walked through Russel Square Garden, I noticed something familiar from the Discovery channel. It was a scene of a fresh kill after a long and drawn out chase between predator and prey. Upon closer examination, we realized it was a massive crow clawing and picking away at the carcass of a pigeon. We'd liked to think the prey was hunted.
We had a full day the next day and were happily greeted by the sun! We started the day off by getting a couple of coffee at the Starbucks across the street. I know, lame. We then walked over to check out the beautiful St. Pancras Station which was the perfect fusion of old and new architecture. I also had my first Harry Potter flashback here.
The one and only location on the itinerary was to check out the Tate Modern, and it was fantastic. Aside from the multi-floor well categorized genres from surrealism to impression, the building itself was more than impressive. It sat right on the river bank facing the the south side of St. Paul's with the Millennium Bridge shooting across the Thames. After spending a couple of hours cruising through the halls among other European art enthusiasts, we walked over to Soho to meet up with my amazingly talented friend- C86- Matt Lyon
I've known Matt via the internet for quite a few years, but never had the opportunity to meet him in person until this trip. With technical difficulties and no maps on our side, we still managed to meet up in front of the fabulous Patisserie Valerie with big hugs. Accompanied with giant waffle with gelato and whip cream, pecan tarts, cafe frappe, and a pot of tea for Matt. He is English, after all ;).
We had a fantastic time talking about art, life, and our love for the ultra nerds- Kozyndan. I've always been inspired and impressed by Matt's graphic illustrations so It was interesting to find out he actually has a background in fine art. I was blown away by Matt's sketchbook. It was filled with fantasy driven abstract shapes that make up the most charming illustrations. It's the kind of stuff I have a hard time grasping- to let go, let your creativity take its course, and just doodle? Still doesn't make much sense to someone who grew up with rigorous rules and regulations. I had brought a copy of my Doodles&Noodles for him as a silly present. In exchange and much to my surprise, he took out his marker and did a sketch for me! Thanks, Matt!
From there we walked past a bunch of cool little boutiques and bookstores on West street, past the Palace Theater and Potrait Gallery to Trafalgar Square, then down Parliament street past Big Ben, then across Westminster bridge for a view of the Eye, then down along the south bank of the Thames past the Royal Festival Hall, the National Theater. The perfect day ended up on the south bank during sunset with 3 pints in hand cheering to new friends. Ah, so good.
London was amazing and I would go back in a heart beat. The idea of traveling to a completely different country by train is fascinating to me. I'm curious about living among such diverse cultures and how it would influence my art and as a person. Perhaps with luck, I'll get to experience it someday.
Special thanks go out to the fantastic Mr. Alexander for documenting the trip and being the perfect travel companion. Visit his blog for tasty speakers, wine listening, and coffee lessons- superradiatingfieldmagnet