April 1, 2014

The Tourist Walk

I expected to like London. I had no idea that I would love it. I love Italy, I love Switzerland, but I want to pack up all my things, move to London and never leave. It's that kind of love. The moment my plane touched down that first night and I hopped on a bus into the brightly lit city I was smiling to myself, I'm going to like it here, I thought. 

The next morning I purchased my Oyster card, leapt on an iconic red double-decker bus, and headed into the city center. I couldn't have gotten any luckier with the weather on the first day of my adventure; the giant cumulus clouds made the city even more picturesque. 

I spent my first day taking what could be called the "tourist walk", the route of which I outlined on this handy map, which I stole from google. 

I started in Hyde Park (with my severely-craved Starbucks in hand). I should just throw it out there now that London parks are quite possibly my favorite part of the whole city. They're amazing, massive, and numerous, Hyde park being the largest.  

I'm sure I looked like such a cheeser walking around the park. It was barely and hour into my morning and I had already become completely enthralled with London, and consequently I was walking around with this ridiculous grin on my face. However, adding to my adoration of London, my smile didn't feel out of place, everyone seemed to be running around in the crisp morning air enjoying the sunshine and their spectacular city. 

I was forewarned, and experienced, some London-weather. One moment I was moseying down a path in sunshine, the next I had walked under a cloud sprinkling down rain. I ducked into one of the buildings in the Italian Gardens and waited it out. Five minutes later I slipped back out into sunshine and rainbows. 

Hyde Park alone is massive; I have no idea how long I walked around, and I'm sure I still missed much of it. The grounds are teeming with various flora and fauna, each somehow even more beautiful than the last.

Finally reaching the end of one park, the "tourist walk" funneled me through the Wellington Arch...

...and into Green Park. Here, I took a moment to say "hi" to the boys giving a salute at the Bomber Command Memorial, which commemorates the over 50,000 who died serving the Command during WWII. 

Tracing my way through Green Park, I easily found my way to Buckingham Palace, as it's pretty hard to miss. Unfortunately, the Queen and my future husband were hiding that day, leaving me to enjoy solely the scenery. 

Big Ben was peaking out from afar, urging me forward, so I continued my stroll. 

The oldest Royal Park is St. James Park, which was my next stop. I couldn't say if I liked Hyde or St. James Park better, because they were both so equally impressive, but St. James' foliage is beyond compare. 

As I did many times during my week in London, I longed for a book to lounge with in the picturesque setting. 

Benny disappeared for awhile as I sunk into the nest of trees in the park, but with one round of a bend, he was back in full iconic glory.  

I was briefly distracted from my portal to Neverland by the London Eye, rising up over the Thames. 

Standing on the Westminster bridge though, turning away from the glorified ferris wheel, I found myself having an even better view of Big Ben. 

Eventually I dragged myself away from the icons of London, and found myself across the river at Tate Modern. The Tate is a modern gallery, brimming with remarkable artist. And if that didn't sell me, like much of the best-of-London, it's free. You can just waltz right in and enjoy the art to your heart's content, which I did. Modern art may not be my preferred area of interest, but Tate is filled with enough selection that there is something for every art lover.

Christian Schad, Agosta, the Pigeon-chested Man, and Rasha, the Black Dove, 1929

Pablo Picasso, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, 1932

Paul Nash, Landscape from a Dream, 1936-38

Leon Kossoff, Man in a Wheelchair, 1959-62

Dan Flavin, untitled (to Don Judd, colorist), 1987

Leaving the Tate, the sun had begun to sink lower in the sky, leaving me just enough time to scamper to my next destination. 

I got to Borough Market right before it closed, which was a godsend because I was ravenous. 

I wondered around eying an array of foreign foods, produce, fish, bread, cheese, and various other intrigues. Spotting a booth called Nana Fanny's and the promise of a take away sandwich, I knew what I wanted. 

I don't know what British person came up with salted beef and gherkin (that's a pickle to us Americans) on a bagel, but I love him/her. The salty savory beef melted in my mouth with the crunchy juicy gherkin soaking into the soft bagel dough, creating a delicious sensation so fantastic that it succeeded in rejuvenating me after my long day of walking. 

My last tourist mark after departing from the Borough was a glimpse of the Tower Bridge, which to those of you who didn't know (like me), is actually accentuated in a lovely sky blue. Who knew? 

Walking back across the river, I ended my day just the way I began it, with coffee and being totally, immeasurably in love with London. 

Yours, Kenna

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