Wednesday, July 8, 2009
What We Did in London
Fifteen years ago I came to London and fell head-over-heels in love with it. Today, thanks to my family situation, I think I might actually have more affection for Paris despite my past love-hate relationship with the city, but London still has a very special place in my heart.
We only had a couple of days here visiting some of my cousins, but we did do many typical touristy things: took pictures in front of Big Ben; visited Trafalgar Square, Shakespeare's Globe (where we got to watch part of a rehearsal of Troilus and Cressida), and the Tower of London; ate fish and chips; and watched street performers in the lively environs of Covent Garden's Central Market. My daughter went with her cousin to see a West End show (Sister Act), of course.
I made some food discoveries: the soup-and-sandwich chain EAT, where one can get delicious food made with fresh ingredients (I had edamame salad with Thai dressing, delectable pho, and a light sandwich); the cupcakes at the London Review of Books Cake Shop at Bury Place off Bloomsbury Way, thanks to a tip from Shuna; and the De Gustibus, where I found some absolutely heavenly blueberry cakes and chocolate-dipped brownie sticks.
We also did some quieter, less flashy things that made this trip even more enjoyable:
My daughter and I enjoyed the brass rubbing center at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, between the gift shop and the crypt café. Great way to relax on a rainy day.
My whole family enjoyed Cecil's Court, a quiet pedestrian lane just off Charing Cross Road that has some wonderful book shops for those who love browsing.
And finally, the highlight of this visit to London, for me, was All-Hallows-by-the-Tower, a church across the way from the Tower of London and the oldest church in the city (originally founded in 675). Here the bodies of Bishop John Fisher and Thomas More were sent for a time after their executions; John Adams was married and William Penn was baptized; Samuel Pepys watched the Great Fire of London; and an old Saxon arch was uncovered during a bomb blast. Here you can find a mariner's chapel, with models of ships hanging from the arches; a brass-rubbing center; and many interesting pieces of art, old and new, including an embroidered banner dedicated to prisoners of conscience. I came here alone after a long day of sightseeing to recharge at a Taizé prayer service, and it was like drinking cool water after a day of thirst.
Some of the best moments of any trip are those spent finding and enjoying some "hidden treasures." We've certainly found our share here.