Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Great London Adventure, Part 2

Day 6: We were hoping to catch another show while in London and, because Tyler is brilliant, it occurred to him that we should try to get day seats for American Psycho: The Musical, because it was a world premiere and apparently we'd made it our unofficial theme to see famous British cheek-boned actors covered in blood and committing atrocious acts. Matt Smith was marvelous in the show and I really liked the take on the story, with a different vibe from the film and an interesting mix of original songs and iconic 80s music.

(Photo courtesy of Tyler Davis)

Hanging out with Patrick Bateman (Photo courtesy of Tyler Davis)

Tyler and I got lunch earlier in the day at Slug and Lettuce, splitting a bottle of wine in our good fortune of actually being able to get rush seats.

Me trying to be classy (Photo courtesy of Tyler Davis)

That evening we attempted to stage door before Coriolanus, which ultimately resulted in us trying to get wi-fi in the basement of the mall next to Donmar so we could tell Anna where we were and me making awkward eye contact with who I think was Hadley Fraser as he went up to the theater. I also had a magical moment hearing Florence + the Machine's "Shake It Out" being played over the mall's speakers, reveling in that magical moment when a song comes out of no where and perfectly voices exactly what you need to hear. We hung out in a cafe for a bit until we met up with Anna for dinner at Bella Italia. Afterwards, we decided to give waiting at the stage door one last go, despite the fact that it was trying to rain again. We waited outside Donmar after the show, but found that Mr. Hiddleston no longer does signings after the show, which Tyler (who has stage doored many times for shows in New York) told me was pretty typical for the latter run of a show, but still kind of surprised me considering the internet seems to make it out that Hiddleston generally has to be dragged away from his fans. I was okay with this, really - at least I didn't have to worry about whether or not it would be really weird meeting your favorite actor and try to be upbeat and jovial despite the fact that the end of Coriolanus is anything but that. I feel like it would be really hard to come out and great the audience at all after such a dark, physical, emotional show, so I wasn't that disappointed - I mean, I got to see the show, which is a miracle in itself. And that's what matters. :D However, I was a bit disappointed I didn't see Mr. Gatiss either, as I really wanted him to sign my copy of The Vesuvius Club and wanted to marvel at the fact that he had seen the same performance of American Psycho that Tyler and I had earlier in the day. Mais c'est la vie.

I did get a lovely shot of the theater as I'd forgotten to do so the night before.

Day 7: On this day, we visited the Globe. It was lovely and spine-tingling and utterly magical. The tour guide quoted the opening of Henry V with the soliloquy from the Chorus, my favorite Shakespeare passage, and I was elated. I also took a billion photos. We walked across the Millennium Bridge afterwards, saw St. Paul's, got high tea at a place called Hush, and wandered through the city, ending up on the Strand and on Fleet Street. Then it was back to Anna's for a quiet evening of pizza, conversation, and TV.

(Photo courtesy of Tyler Davis)

Day 8: It was a chilly, damp morning but a great day to visit the Tower of London. I had a lot of Lady Jane Grey feels as well as Richard III debates, and we enjoyed a guided tour by a Beefeater and an immersive theaterical tour about torture in Salt Tower. We warmed up in a coffee shop outside the Tower and met up with Anna to explore Borough Market where we sampled raw milk (milk that hasn't been pasteurized; it was absolutely delicious and wonderful and makes me wish such things were available in the US) and got lunch - I had a very tasty omelet that was as dense as an American-style eggbake or quiche, as well as mulled wine which is super popular in Europe and something I wish Minnesota would off in restaurant, especially given our current cold snap. Afterwards, Tyler and I bounded off to see 221 B Bakers Street to snap a few photos and pay our admiration to the famous Sherlock Holmes. Then we wandered past Regent's Park and Marylebone Road, back towards the Primrose Hill area to take the Tube back to Anna's for Thai take-away.

(Photo courtesy of Tyler Davis)

Day 9: Tyler, Anna, and I ventured to Cambridge to look at the campus and to visit Anna's sister, Olivia. It was my first journey by train and I quite enjoyed it. We enjoyed tea and brunch at Cambridge in Corpus Christi, Olivia's college, and I attempted to understand exactly what colleges meant at Cambridge (somewhere between residential communities and Hogwarts houses, but no Sorting Hats and personality stuff, and more prestigious than residential communities as understood by my university). I decided upon wandering throughout Cambridge that it was my dream school - maybe not where I would go, but the sort of place I wanted to go, in theory. It was absolutely beautiful. Cambridge also has the best fudge I have ever consumed in my life.

Tyler and I explored more of the campus and a market area while Anna and Olivia got tea at the Michaelhouse Cafe, which is both a coffee shop and a church. We then wandered over to the Fitzwilliam Museum, which had a brilliant collection of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman artifacts (including a mummy with a very Grecian painted face and a mummified cat) as well as a great porcelain collection and portrait gallery. We made our way back to the cafe to head out to the train station and return to London for dinner. I grabbed a quick meal of a cottage pie to heat up in the microwave, which turned out to be very delicious, and a dessert of a Mars bar.

Fitzwilliam Museum (Photo courtesy of Tyler Davis)

Day 10: Our final full day. We ambled over to Hyde Park despite the wind and rain and Tyler got to see the London Whole Foods as he used to work for them. We made our way back into Covent Garden where we got fish and chips for lunch and later got coffee and explored Leicester Square a bit more. We wandered past some shopping areas and markets towards Bond Street, reveling in all the expensive shops and the just as expensive cars parked outside them. We made our way towards the British Museum, where we met Anna just down the street at a restaurant attached to the Radisson Blu called Scoff and Banter for dinner. It was a lovely last meal and a chance to give our thanks to our marvelous friend and host. And then it was back to Anna's for some tea and to see Twisted, Starkid's new musical.

Hyde Park

RADA Studios (excuse me while I fangirl)

Leicester Square at twilight

And then it was off to bed and off to Heathrow early the next morning, where I unwillingly boarded and tried not to cry on take-off. However, I left on an upbeat note. Anna had been telling me about a program at King's College London that was a MA in Shakespeare Studies that partners with the Globe. I'd seen their school not far from the Globe when we'd visited it and I decided to use my 40 minutes of free wifi in Heathrow to research the program. Not only did it sound perfect, its deadline for next fall is July 1st. Which means I could still apply for it.

Knowing that I could be returning to the UK as soon as the fall if wonderful, miraculous things were to occur and I tried very, very hard, I boarded the plane with a lot of hope and a sense of motivation I haven't felt in months. So thank God for Anna telling me about that program and thank God for Heathrow's free wifi (which they asked me if it improved my experience there and I of course told them YES YES DEFINITELY). Because going to London taught me many things, but most importantly that I love that city, that I can most certainly see myself living there, and I must live there as soon as I possibly can. Of course vacations allow for people to relax and feel good about themselves, but I've never felt so good before in a city, never felt so comfortable with myself, never felt so happy. A great deal of it has to do with the company of course - I found myself with absolutely wonderful people on that trip - but it also has to do with the environment and the city. London brought out something that I thought only Minneapolis could bring - a feeling of comfort and home.

I didn't get homesick once on the trip, something that's never happened to me before. I missed my friends back home, of course, and my parents, but it wasn't homesickness. I felt completely safe in London, I felt comfortable getting around, and I felt that there was always something new and exciting to explore around the corner. While living there will not be the same as vacationing - I will not be going to the theater a great deal or going to famous attractions every other day or eating brioches every morning (alas!) - there's still a great deal of opportunity to do that once in a while and to live in a city that offers so much and offers a different way of living I rather enjoy. Yes, the Underground is crowded and the traffic boggles my mind. But it's busy like any other city, and busy with a certain panache I admire. After visiting when I was sixteen, I wanted to get a better idea of what it was like, to know what it was outside a high school trip, to see it from a different perspective. I have now and it was even better than I could possible imagine.

So the question is no longer if I'm going back to London but when. The how I have figured out - given that I can get into what sounds to be a rather competitive program. But I'll give it my best shot and pray and hope that I can get in to King's. Going from the unimpressive Globe University to the astonishing Globe Theater would rock my world. So here's fingers crossed and positivity towards the work I'm about to undertake. Guess I'd better get started on my personal statement, huh? :D

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