Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Culture Attack!

Today was Tate Town. Tate Britain and Tate Modern art museums. Getting there was tricky because today was very cold and very foggy. I think I'm getting better at this whole - it's freezing - business. I add more layers! Anyway we arrived at the Tate Britain and had some breakfast. It's quite strange because no where is open for breakfast before 10 and it's really hard to find cooked breakfasts! Which does not fit the stereotype of the traditional English breakfast. Anyway we arrived at the Museum and surprise surprise it was massive. We began in the drawing section which had over 400 years of illustrations. It was incredible. There were drawings of past and present and a very funny artist called David Shrigley.
We then moved onto the older paintings which included Reubens! Yay I love Reubens. I prefer the older paintings which included mythology, biblical stories, portraits and various historical figures. It was very soothing - and warm inside the gallery. After finding out that the boat which goes from one Tate to the other was broken we were forced to walk in the cold mist. We walked past Big Ben, the houses of Parliament, a statue in honour of Emeline Pankhurst, the London Eye and the National Theatre. After the long walk we arrived at the Tate Modern which had art from the 1900s onwards. 7 floors of art and yet you could only see three of floors for free so our journey was remarkably cut short. There was a huge spider lurking over hundreds of yellow and blue bunk beds that greeted us on arrival. Most of the beds had various novels tied to them like "War of the Worlds". Mum theorised that the piece had the beds so that humans could grow in them so that the spider babies above had something to feast on and the freaky novels were to help the humans stomach their cruel fate. Phew - big theory. Who knows it was a pretty weird piece. I mean right next to it was a giant apple core and a huge cat skeleton in hissing position. I can't say that the rest of the modern pieces took my fancy. There were various censored pieces which had a warning as they contained "sexual imagery" and "extreme violence" - neither were very enjoyable. Overall, the day was pleasant and culturally enriching. I just realised that today I saw several great artists including Monet, Matisse, Magritte, Picasso and Reubens.

Mum and I are now celebrating New Year's Eve in style - we had a big pasta feed and are watching movies in our jimmy jams! Party town! It looked like there was going to be a huge fireworks display and everything on the river near Big Ben but I don't think Mum and I will make it that far! *Yawn* anyway the rubbishy films call my name!

Harrods and Wicked and curry oh my!

Today was a semi day of rest... Didn't end up leaving the hotel until around 11. No real reason except that the sun not coming up seems to hinder our movements. Anyway we hopped on the tube and set off to Knightsbridge - Harrods. As everyone knows Harrods is a place of great ripoffs and overpriced nonsense. The building, however, is beautiful. The irrelevant, yet stunning, Egyptian hall containing giant crystal necklaces and various designer items bemused the senses - the price tickets amused them.

The modern music juxtaposed the old architecture (I am SUCH an english student) as we slowly made our way through the various levels. I did see some stunning shoes and was extremely tempted - I mean they WERE reduced - but my senses were then struck by a lovely dress. To cut a long story of "Umm, ahh, well..." short - I didn't buy them. Oh the really funnt part was the pet department which had luxury pet items as far as the eye could see. Ridiculous things like full on pet beds with overarching canopies and various clothing items for the dog. They had an actual viewing section where there were 3 adorable black puppies racing around their enclosure. The sign on the wall boasted that these 1200 pound puppies would come with "at least 3 generations of pedigree". They were so cute!

Left Harrods and went to the matinee of "Wicked" which was awesome! It was so good and the woman who played the witch had an amazing voice which filled the whole theatre (which held about 600 people). It was very clever and I recommend it! Not so many people crunching and scrunching at this show so I was happy. I took an illegal sort of photo of the stage so you can see - tee hee! Later that night we risked having a curry which was hot pink in colour but tasted okay and I'm still alive so I guess it was good.

Today we are going to do something cultural and go to some museums - I'll let you know! Bye!

Ps: I don't want to jinx it but it hasn't rained since we got here!! Horray!!

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Madame Tussauds in all her waxy glory

Yes I had to do it... Madame Tussauds - The Wax Museum. I had very fond memories of this place when I visited it a couple of years ago and had a whale of a time. This time, however, they had "fast-track, pre-ordered ticket" entrances with queues going down the street. I was gobsmacked. Mum and I took a stroll around the block and when we returned the masses must have gone inside because the queue was gone but the exhibits - good grief. People were swarming all over the lifelike figures so much that I couldn't be bothered getting a photo with Audrey Hepburn or, heaven forbid, Brangelina. Having people staring at you as you try (I do use the word try) to take a hilarious photo with various individuals is off-putting.

Not only was there an arseload of people in the display but every few steps you were confronted by a booth selling sugary snacks of various shapes and colours. As if you need a refreshment after walking ten paces! I quickly dodged the "High School Musical" display which included a rather battered-by-young-desperate-tweens figure of Zac Efron. Sigh.

All in all it was quite disappointing but hey I had some fun I guess.

That night we went out to see "Chicago" and had dinner beforehand only to be confronted with yet more terrible customer service - will these Brits ever get it right?? I sound like such a whinger but the night went on! Inside the theatre we were forced to listen to the sounds of fat people grappling with their various snacks. The people right behind us would talk to one another, loudly, and scrunch their chip packets - I wanted to strangle every last one of them. How rude is that? I could barely see the show (given we were in the Upper Dress circle which is a polite way of saying riiiiiiiiiiight up the back) let only hear the show with these fools behind us.

It was a long day. But in the morning I got some lovely new leather boots! My glimmer of hope in this obnoxious and gloomy day. Oh also I didn't freeze my butt off today as I added another layer of clothing. Don't ask what number I'm up to... it's quite embarrassing. So let's just say I look a lot fatter.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

The Day of Markets

Today was market day - three times over

Mum and I went to the Spitalfield, Pennicoat Lane and Camden markets today. We headed out this morning and had to withstand the 1 degree temperature - despite the weather forecast from the previous night saying it would be 3! Ha! We end up drinking more coffee and tea than ever purely to warm up. And due to all the terrorist paranoia there are NO RUBBISH BINS ANYWHERE in London which is crazy. So it was so cold that I couldn't carry my empty coffee cup any longer and had to find other carrying means - which is pictured.
Another thing I can't get use to here is the fact that everyone stands on the right when standing on the escalators. I mean they drive on the left hand side like we do in Australia and we stand on the left whereas these crazy poms are on the right - Mum and I keep catching one another out and sheepishly move to the right to avoid the wrath of the pushy London folk.

The markets! Haven't written about them yet so here I go - I wonder if you are still reading - here's hoping. The first markets consisted of upcoming designers and jazzy quirky items. Ended up buying a nice dress which I then found at each and every other market we went to - Grrrr... We changed locations and found ourselves accidentely in the Petticoat Lane market which was a bit of a downgrade but uplifting as they were selling things for under 10 pounds! Refreshing. Next was Camden Markets which were incredible! It was clear where everyone goes on a Sunday afternoon as it was swarming with people. We came to this indoor part of the market which was as beautiful as Aladdin's Cave. There were chandeliers, padded ceilings, fairy lights and bronze statues everywhere. It was amazing. I took some photos but the whole atmosphere was awesome.

The sun went down and the cold set in despite my adding of two extra layers this morning - I haven't adapted yet - Brrrrr. So of course we went to the pub. This time it was "The Shakespeare" pub which had underground trains running beneath it so you got a lovely foot rumbling every couple of minutes.
It's 8pm now and I can't believe I'm still conscious so I'm doing well. Have to train myself because tomorrow we are going to see Chicago at 8pm!!

Saturday, 27 December 2008

I Have Arrived!

Hello everyone reading this! I am alive, well and in London! Hoorah! (Yes look at me in the photo looking like a red-nosed fool outside Buckingham Palace. Hopefully the photos of my travels will get more attractive as we go on - no guarantees though)

Look how organised I am starting this blog within days of my arrival - oh the things you can accomplish when you are terribly jet-lagged and therefore awake at 5 am London time... I shall continue to type my days and my findings - mostly weird stuff... as I go on!

Right! The trip over! Well customs were all very lovely when I left Addie, Liam, Paul and Robin with a tear stained face as I was constantly asked if "I was alright" and "what's wrong?". That's the key to getting through customs - cry! Eventually jetted off to Singapore - the flight felt like it took ages when we had only been on it for about 3 hours. Ended up watching 'Mamma Mia'. Sigh it was... nauseating - Sorry Ali, Brodie and Bella! - I just couldn't stomach the main character. Anywho we arrived in London without a hitch and were forced to rattle around the Changi airport for 4 hours getting very tired as it was reaching midnight Aus time. So we found a solution - a pedicure! Haha comfy chairs, hot tea and foot massages. Time eventually passed and we boarded the plane to London which had none other than Kylie Minogue on board (I found out from the very lovely chatty young man sitting next to us). So there I was somewhat star struck for a while. Nodded off and got a record 8 hours sleep so I only had to withstand 5 hours of 'The Mummy 3' - terrible, 'Kath & Kim' and 'Looking for Alibrandi'. Coming into land, seeing all the beautiful lights below, we were descending and then suddenly I felt my stomach drop as we went down...and the up. Roaring back up into the sky I nervously looked out the window waiting to see an oncoming plane (I am NOT an optimistic flyer). As we levelled on the Captain said "We were unable to land as another plane was still on the runway so I decided to make another loop. Not the most common procedure but I felt it was necessary". The man next to us then said "Yeah, that was a polite way of saying we almost died!". We did land! We are alive! Got through customs at London without a hitch - wasn't crying - but the man was nice and wasn't deterred by the fact that I was staying for 6 months and studying. Got our bags nice and quick and proceeded into the black, zero degree abyss that is London at 6am.

Arrived at the hotel to have a quick shower and throw on every piece of attire that I owned only to STILL feel cold later that night. Mum and I ventured out at 9am to witness the sunrise (I kid you not) and swan about town. We caught the tube to Oxford Street and had a squiz at the 'sales' - lots of junk not really marked down that much which is surprisingly similar in Australia I find...hmmm. Went into my favourite store - Hamley's the "finest toys in the world". I just so happened to buy myself a travelling companion who I have named Mabel. We then decided to walk back to the hotel as the sun was setting - about 3pm I think. Walking was difficult as I was gradually becoming unable to feel my toes, fingers or face which made talking interesting so we ducked into the National Gallery for two main reasons - it was free and it was warm. I think everyone else had the same idea as it was crowded and the paintings consisted mostly of fat naked rich people which I would think would only appeal to a remote group of... perverts. We then power-walked to a pub where I had my first half-pint of Strongbow. Had dinner, went back to the hotel, asleep at 6pm London time.