Monday, February 14, 2011

Stupid jet lag

I woke up at 4:30am. Now what?

Day 1

Arrived around 3. Grabbed a cornish pasty for lunch. Went to Harrod's. Stared at opulence (mostly around the food hall) and had a delicious milkshake. My original plan was to get a bunch of teas as souvenirs, but then I realized how big they were (much larger than they looked on the website), and now I'm having doubts.

Disjointed sentences because I hardly got any sleep on the plane.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Went to Camden market. It's full of stores that act like they're too cool for you (or perhaps that's just how I felt about it), with different definitions of cool (e.g. Bohemian-y, rave-like/future clothes envisioned by the 60s, retro (70s), retro (20s style suits), leather, goth, asian cute, hippy/environmentally conscious). Kept seeing things which I really liked and were fairly cheap but I don't have enough pounds or enough space in my luggage to get it. I ended up buying a couple of things and leaving in frustration when I realized I'd buy more if I didn't. A lot of things didn't seem to have prices on them, so I think it might be the type of place where the just set the price based on how much they think they can get out of you. In one store, I saw a faux corset top which he said was for 30 pounds, when I was about to leave saying that I only had 65 pounds for the next couple of days, he lowered it to 15. When I bought he told me he never sold it for so cheap. I don't believe him but it makes me feel good about my purchase. Although I already managed to rip the zipper.

Went to Speaker's Corner. That was cool. Most of the people who were there at that point were preaching, but there was this racist old lady yammering on and on about how foreigners should go home to where they are "racially suited". She also seemed to be very anti-Catholic. What was funny was the hecklers, who mocked her with light hearted sarcasm. It seemed that just about everyone who was listening to her were people who disagreed with her and thought her ridiculous. Apparently she comes there every week and shouts for hours. Ironically, one of the hecklers was also a regular and told us that she's actually from South Africa and came to Britain because she believes that whites don't belong there, and she has the audacity to call British born citizens not really British.

There was also a really aggressively pro-Israel guy who was preaching a two state solution and was faced with the rebuttals of a very reasonable man who had just come back from living there for a year and a half. The whole atmosphere of debate and discourse was really interesting to be in. Even the people who were preaching to each other (muslim, christian, maybe others but I didn't notice any others) and arguing over who was the real god while pointing to their texts was inspiring. Obviously they weren't getting anywhere, but such an open exchange of ideas among strangers… you rarely see that anywhere other than the internet.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I've been getting less internets than expected so haven't been updating.

Currently staying in shoebox sized hotel room (it literally only has enough room for a bed and an airline sized bathroom). I don't know what I'll be up to for the next couple of days since Katrina and I did everything I was planning on doing in 5 days in 2. I guess I'll see plays and visit Cambden market. I wore 2 holes into my jeans, so now there's room for extra stuff, although I already bought a new dress (it was at a second hand clothes store in Stratford where the money goes to cancer research and it was only 7 pounds).

Anyways, rushed updates (again in reverse chronological order):

Tonight, Katrina left. I'm not sure what I'll do without her. Slightly scared of getting overly lost (you know, more so than usual), or not keeping track of days and missing my flight. I also need to buy a watch now so I know the London time (I can't figure out how to switch the time on my phone since it automatically updates on fido but gets no signal here).

Not particularly impressed by the plays this time. There were a couple of interesting things they added in Romeo and Juliet (e.g. after Romeo sleeps with Juliet, the parting scene they made it seem like Juliet is really clingy but Romeo no longer really wants much to do with her anymore) but some things were more confusing and me trying to figure out what they were conveying detracted from feeling the emotions of the scene (e.g. everyone is wearing Elizabethan clothes except Romeo and Juliet who wear modern, hipster clothes and in the very last scene when the parents/community find the couple dead, Romeo and Juliet are in Elizabethan clothes while everyone else is in modern dress).
Antony and Cleopatra had some good moments but overall not that great. It might just be I'm not particularly fond of tragedies since I tend to zone out whenever there's a war update or it's about the wider implications for the country. Cleopatra came off as really haggard and old (she is old in the text but usually they make her be more charming and enchanting). I think it might have been interesting if I had seen other versions of it before where they do the stereotypical portrayal of Cleopatra, to see how it could be interpreted differently, but as it was, I was really wishing for a more Joelle-like Cleopatra.

There was punting (that was funny) and meeting Marcia's friends (so lovely) and listening to a talk on world trade by some journalist, i didn't quite catch which newspaper he wrote for (really interesting), drinking at a tavern, playing croquet, and spending time with Marcia. (Btw mars, the DVD I meant to leave at your place was actually still in my laptop).

I don't remember at what point I stopped updating. (I only bought 15 min of internet, so I wrote this then copy pasted, spending the rest of the time looking for directions)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Back in London

So, didn't post yesterday because I was too tired. Here's what's happened in reverse chronological order:

Oh my gosh, Hair is the most amazing play I've ever seen! Fantastic songs, singing, really fun audience interaction (including letting people on stage to party it up with cast members for the finale). I was so star struck when main characters went up to the balcony and started climbing over us and joking and playing with our hair, etc. I had the cheapest seats (19 pounds) but it was a small theater like with Spamalot so it felt really intimate.

And it's really interesting to think that it was actually fairly influential and groundbreaking in the 60s and shows us both how much things have changed, stayed the same, or reverted. We were seated by a lady who first saw it when she was 18, 42 years ago. She was interested in how I was perceiving it, since I wasn't of her generation, and I was interested in finding out how it was perceived back when it was more pertinent and the people they were talking about were the audience.
/end gushing

What I did before Hair: we walked all around London kept getting lost (i.e. heading the wrong direction on the right street), but not stressing out about it too much and feeling like we still saw interesting things (e.g. stumbled upon a really classy and not overly touristy patisserie and got really yummy and decently priced fruit tarts and freshly squeezed orange juice, also strolled through an old creepy cemetery, stumbled on extra tourist spots like Trafalgar Square). We started with a quest to find a bank machine but the banks we went to (after much trouble finding) were closed, I think it was a bank holiday. Then we went to Covent Market which had amazing paella and talented street artists, particularly this one young opera singer who was really good at emoting during the song.

We walked through the City, St. Paul's Cathedral (which is normally is 25pounds admission, but we went when the choir boys were singing for their evensong and got to see it for free), we went across the millenium bridge to see the Globe, we explored the Tate (some of the ideas presented in their selected survey of art styles influenced what I was thinking about when watching Hair, particularly reflecting on how art is always (but in particularly in certain periods) moving to break down old conventions and expand definitions of what is allowable), we got on a random west heading double decker bus to head-ish towards the theater, while still seeing places/exploring. We ended up on Trafalgar Square and I kept wanting to reference Outnumbered but Katrina hadn't seen it. Then walked through the theatre district and found a Haggen Das (sp?) restaurant, we really wanted to go but didn't have enough time before the play.

What I did yesterday: Flight here (didn't get enough sleep, the guy beside me snored and the tvs kept flickering on the flight time, which had a white background and increased the light significantly which kept waking me up as i began to fall asleep). Had a little trouble finding the hostel (Mars, it's in the embassy area)… for some reason they have streets where on one side of the street the number goes up and on the other side the numbers go down. That greatly confused us. We walked through most of Hyde Parks (Mars, there were huge sections of it we hadn't see and didn't realize were there (e.g. the Diana memorial fountain, speaker's corner) and we walked all the way to Buckingham Palace. Was tired as shit from lack of sleep and 2 hours straight of walking.

Oh, and the hostel is pretty nice. We got our own bathroom, which I wasn't expecting.

Itinerary for tomorrow: Science Museum, possibly Victoria and Albert museum then head to Oxford. Also, we have to find a real fish and chips place. We keep finding pubs which advertise "great British" food. So I assume it's crappy overpriced tourist food.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008