First Stop: London

22 Jun

The Clash proclaimed quite popularly in their 1979 punk masterpiece that they were “London Calling.” I have perverted the angst demonstrated in that song and will now use it for my own tourist purposes. Yes, I too was London Calling, but as an American who had never been to The Big Smoke. Wow, that’s an outdated nickname, ain’t it. Rebecca, my girlfriend, and I took off on June 1 (conveniently missing the Mets first no-hitter later that night…I don’t want to talk about it) and landed in London early June 2 to cloudy skies and light rain (which would follow us around like a dog throughout our stay…and most of our trip elsewhere). But we were troopers and with umbrellas at ready went out to explore London by way of tourist bus and London underground. Our first impressions? Rainy, but soaked in antiquity and culture. It also didn’t hurt that we visited London (unintentionally) during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee which provided us with a full-on display of British celebration and culture.

While this post does not have much to do with music, I thought you might find our stop in London interesting. I also think you might enjoy a taste of Paris and Berlin over the next few days. Talking about taste.

Is there any better picture to start out with. You know I am an American when my box of fried goodness is loaded with the sticky rouge of ketchup. Notice the variety and straight-up disorderly jumble of my little artistic food picture above. In a way it describes our culinary experience in London. We had Sardinian cuisine, British staples like fish and chips, pies, and pasties, Indian food, and Chinese cuisine at Chinatown at 11 p.m. We crisscrossed cultures and broke down culinary boundaries. Actually, we didn’t. See, that’s the thing with London. It is so ethnically diverse and culturally open. It reminded me of New York in many ways. Hmm…I wonder why. New York was named after the Duke of York, a title of nobility in the British peerage. New York in many ways is like London’s cool nephew. I felt at home in London, more so than in Paris and Berlin (perhaps that’s because they spoke English).

You knew you were getting an image of Abbey Road

There I am in my Grateful Dead zip-up grinning like a fool. It’s funny. Now that I look back at this photo it actually seems photoshopped. I assure you it’s not. Rebecca and I took the trek west of Regent’s Park to Abbey Road. It was quite the trek, but I would be lying if I didn’t say it was completely worth it. Like I am sure you all know, this intersection is still an active roadway. Can you imagine having to drive on that street to get to work everyday and having to deal with starry-eyed tourists walking back and forth like idiots to imitate the Beatles. Damn Beatles! I’m not going to lie, besides from thinking about getting run over by a car, I was humming a little ditty to myself as I walked quickly on the beaten white lines. It went a little like this:

Like I said earlier, the Diamond Jubilee transversed our time in London. It was quite exceptional seeing all the preparation for the celebration of the Queen’s 60 years of reign, only the second time a Jubilee has reached diamond status (other was Queen Victoria in the 19th century) since the British monarchy began with Offa the Mercia in the late eighth century (even though some consider the true beginning to be with William the Conquerer in 1066…even though the kingdom of Wessex is the first kingdom to unite England after beating the Mercians in the ninth century (okay I will shut the hell up).

The Fish and Chips photo from above came from the day of the Thames River Pageant which saw thousands of individuals crowd bridges and traffic-less streets to view the procession of boats (including the royal barge) down the Thames. Big video boards showing histories of the Queen on repeat lined the streets. People walked around in suits of the British flag and sang God Save the Queen (I’m serious).

There was also a concert during the five-day celebration at Buckingham Palace that was streamed to various viewing areas like Hyde Park. Here is a picture of my girlfriend before we dug into a vegetarian pie. It was delicious. But through it all my favorite memory from London was something we saw that was not even in London.

That is my beautiful girlfriend and I in front of Stonehenge, the famous pre-historic rock something-or-other built by people who lived on the land that is now the English county Wiltshire anywhere between 3000-2000 BCE. Yes, the rocks are old and they also make extraordinary pictures.

See…I told you

Damn group of people to the right of the picture. I should photoshop them out. What is so intriguing about this rock formation, besides its age, is that no one is quite sure what the formation was. A temple? Was it a clock? Or perhaps…aliens? They are all theories, and besides the last one they are all reputable notions. Since the people did not keep written records (but they were able to master dragging rocks from hundreds of miles away to this spot) we will never know for sure.

It also was pretty funny that the first time we saw blue skies was at Stonehenge.

Rebecca and I made sure to catch some theatre on our last night in London. We chose to see a rock musical based on the music of Queen because, well, we both love the music of Queen. The music was killer (like the title pun, lol) and it made for a great last night in the city.

So there you have it. London. Next Stop: Paris. Before we get there, here is an image of the Tower Bridge.

Bye for now London

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8 Responses to “First Stop: London”

  1. Sojourning Abroad - Justin June 22, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    Wow looks awesome! i love the soundtrack to We Will Rock You and would love to see it in London!

    • Matthew Coleman June 22, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

      Thanks for the comment. It was a really enjoyable show. The plot is corny, but everyone is there for the tremendous concert they get! We got two second row seats at the TKTS booth for 35 pounds each.

  2. John Phillips June 23, 2012 at 11:59 am #

    London is an amazing city.

  3. The Boy! July 1, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    Did you see any part of downtown? I noticed you didn’t mention the commercial bit in your post on France either 🙂
    [I think the last picture you posted is rather of the Tower Bridge.]

    • Matthew Coleman July 1, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

      Absolutely right. My mistake. Mixed up my photos. We did not make it down to the commercial part of Paris. We were in London during the Diamond Jubilee so it was a bank holiday the entire time we were there.

      • The Boy! July 3, 2012 at 4:45 am #

        Dang. Oh well, instead you got to see the celebrations when a queen cuts an extra extra large cake.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Third Stop – Berlin and Potsdam – A Photo Journal « The Music Court - July 5, 2012

    […] here we are. We have explored the jubilee of London, the delectable awe of Paris, and now Berlin. When Rebecca and I were planning this trip, I was […]

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