Sunday, December 30, 2012


I am exhausted. 
This morning we all awoke very tired and groggy…though I was by far the most intolerable because I slept very little due to the horrendous snoring of both of my parents. Regardless of our sleepiness however, we dressed and walked to Cafe in the Garden for our lovely breakfast…the breakfast both my Father and I have been dreaming about for many months…the breakfast that would shame all other breakfasts in the history of mankind...the breakfast that would change the world. You can imagine the excitement, the Nticipation in the air as we approached Russell Square. I could picture the glass walls, the cozy bustle and clangs of food being prepared, the steaming coffee, the smell of bacon and eggs approaching...this was the meal I had truly been looking forward to ever since the trip had been announced back in October. With all of this being said, I'm sure you can imagine my puzzlement when we entered the park and the cafe seemed a little dark. "It must be a trick of the eye" I thought, "this can't possibly happen!"....but happen it did. OH THE DESPAIR. IMAGINE YEARNING FOR A MEAL FOR TWO YEARS, ONLY TO FINALLY ARIVE AND DISCOVER THAT NOT ONLY WERE THEY CLOSED TODAY, BUT THAT THEY'LL  BE CLOSED FOR THE NEXT WEEK. I was and still am heartbroken. Disappointed and with our hearts crushed my Father made the decision to go to the hotel restaurant next to Bloomsbury Park Hotel, where we had a decent but meaningless breakfast consisting of bacon, eggs, fruit, toast, berries, and mushrooms. After we finished eating we discussed our day, though we didn't particularly plan it out step by step. From there we ventured down to Holborn station but popped into Sainsburys along the way so that I could purchase and Innocent smoothie (they had renovated the place slightly which I liked, but my father hated). From there we went over to buy our day pass tickets. Actual human ticketers were not in to work today so we were stuck using an uncooperative machine, which we had to get help with. A man helped us with our tickets and we were about to pay when our credit and bank cards were both denied, which caused momentary panic. My father and I purchased the tickets with cash while my mother attempted, and failed, to call Bank of America. We stood in the midst of a large crowd for a while trying to talk on the phone before we finally decided to go on to Cecil court and into Goldsboro books, so that my father could shop and my mother could make the call in a calmer, quieter area. We got off the train at Leicester square and began walking to Cecil, but when we turned on to the little alley way we immediately knew that something was wrong, as it was completely lifeless. I ran a little ahead to look at Goldsboro's door, only to find that not only were they closed for the day, but that they would be closed for the week as well. No where else was open either so my father was understandably upset. We peered through several store windows longingly as he and I both cursed our trip and the failure of our phones, the Cafe, and book shopping. Eventually he flung his arms in the air and declared that we were going to the National Portrait Gallery, which was only a block away. We sat in the lobby of the portrait gallery while my mother made the call to Bank America (they said it must have been the machine because our card should be working) and we then walked around the upper levels of the museum to see the Elizabethan portraits. Our intent when going there was to see a photography exhibit, but I peeked inside it and quickly decided that nothing about it interested me. The Elizabethan portraits were quite lovely however and served as a nice break from the chaos of everything else that had been going wrong. From there we walked to Covent Garden, where we decided to stop in the Apple store along the way to see if they could fix my father's iPhone. The store was mammoth (four whole floors!) and actually quite pretty with stone walls and glass-like staircases, and the people inside were extremely knowledgable. We also found out the problem…six months ago when we traded his phone in for a new one (the other one had problems and didn't work) the Apple people never exchanged the sim card, and so his phone has no sim card at all. The Apple people recommended that we buy a pay buy the use card for only 15 pounds, which we did, and they even helped set it up before the set us on our way. The phone still didn't work but we didn't worry yet because they told us it could take up to an hour to kick in, so we walked around Covent Garden and went into a few goofy shops to purchase small gifts for friends and family. Still though the phone was not working so we went back to the Apple store. They couldn't understand either why the phone still wasn't working, so they gave us a full refund and sent us on our way…so in essence we wasted about an hour for absolutely nothing. My father then went back to Cecil Court to see if anything was open, and fortunately Peter Ellis was (my father loves his store) was. As he shopped my Mother and I walked to Trafalgar square and to St Martens church. It was raining but it was the pleasant sort that meekly fades away once it hits your skin, the kind that feels cheerful to the touch. We walked happily through this welcoming rain and amongst the towering statues and tourists until eventually there was nothing more to look at outside. We went into St Martens church and pondered through the crowded, doleful crypt, and  we bought an absolutely revolting lunch that we didn't eat as we waited for my father to arrive. When he did we picked up our numerous shopping bags and headed over to St Pauls cathedral (we had to make several underground stops and line changes along the way). 
I have seen St Pauls countless times ow, yet even still it never ceases to amaze me. Its sheer size and intricate architecture are absolutely stunning, and the inside is just as gorgeous with its glass and marbling and detailed ceiling. Photography wasn't allowed but I still snuck a few silly photos in before heading down to the crypt (I suppose we were attracted to crypts today?). They have added a corny movie and a decent looking timeline to the crypt, but other than that it is still its gloriously eerie and comforting self, with the fading gravestones and placards dotting the floors and walls. In the gift shop we bought our little animal ornaments (we buy some every time we come) and we also encountered a horrendously malodorous homeless man who was simply pacing back and forth from wall to wall. When we left St Pauls we walked a block to the wobbly bridge, where I took hundreds of pictures of the dome and a mammoth, handsome Christmas tree. We all had a pleasant enough time with the wind and the gorgeous sights of the Thymes river and the globe and the London bridge. I was feeling great after that particular walk and wanted to stay out and about, but by that point both of my parents were complaining of fatigue and various pains (alas the trials of traveling with old people) so we headed back to the hotel room. Once back in the room I became extremely snug and comfortable and so was reluctant to leave the warmth, but after a short 20 minute both of my parents were feeling refreshed again and wanted to head out again. So it was that we set out once more into the streets of London, ready for an adventure...ready to go to the Barbican Center of the Arts and experience the Rain room. .
        I read about the rain room a few weeks ago online, and I thought it sounded very intriguing and have been suggesting a trip there ever since. We had to transfer tube lines a few times in order to finally reach the Barbican station, and from there we had to look at several maps in order to figure out his to get there, and then how to get to the Curve side.  The walk was long and slightly foreboding, but once we were inside we were welcomed by warmth and bright lights, and unfortunately, a long line. I feared that the line would take us two hours but in fact it only took us one, and while in it we chatted with a knowledgeable, nerdy, hipster-esque young man and his girlfriend about the Barbican and all of its different shows and exhibits. 
         The rain room itself was absolutely spectacular. After waiting in the surpisingly quick line we were waved through a large, dark entrance along with our new hipster acquaintances. Wandering through the shadowed hallway we were led on by the familiar sound of rain pattering in the distance, which was an altogether disorienting feeling of natural impossibilities. We reached the end of the hallway and were immediately blinded by a rescplended, brilliant light at the far end if the room, and the ever flowing silhouettes of people waiting to enter the ersatz shower. The exhibit itself was surreal in definition- a dark room illuminated only by dim purple lights and the effulgent pseudo sun on the far wall, a steady downpour of rain falling from the ceiling, engulfing you as you stand with your arms outstretched. There in the center of the room I lived a dream of standing in the rain, all whilst remaining dry. Dry? Yes, dry. That is the intrigue of the exhibit, the impossibility of defying the laws of nature. The water falling around you is perfectly real, for you can feel a faint mist that softly grazes by the hairs of your skin if you venture too close to the sides of the room...yet I stood there with my camera without any fear of getting wet. I took hundreds of pictures as I watched the silhouettes dance and kiss and gawk at the oversll experience. I was disappointed when my mother called for me to leave. When we emerged into the bright lights of the lobby area I was briefly blinded, and we were all hit with a sudden pang of hunger. My mother and I began to urge Pizza Express to my father but he was either unaware of this or chose to ignore us, as he decided to ride the train to Russel square and go to Il Fornellos Italian restaurant instead. The experience there was not particularly good. We wanted mussels (Which were the night's special) but they were out…the caprese was mediocre…the bread was quite lamb was flavorless and drowned in a goopey and syrupy dressing, and my mother's dish was dry. My father on the other hand loved his dish. After dinner we separated and my father went in search of a USA magazine as my mother and I walked back to the hotel, and we then went downstairs to ask if there was wifi in the lounge/bar area. There was.
We went back to the room to grab our computers and wait for my father to arrive, and when he did we declared that we were heading downstairs and that he was to join us shortly. The lounge was quite nice and my mother ordered herself a glass of wine, and the bar tender gave us a bowl of bar nuts. We sat there for a long while as my Mother checked her email and I edited pictures, and then eventually my father came down to have a quick glass of wine. It was our first true day in London this trip and it was certainly productive, though now I am even more frightened for Monday when we have to leave.

 The decorations at Covent Garden

 The large pans of Paella
 That entire "Merry Christmas" board was created with legos
 Trafalgar Square
  Trafalgar Square
 The ceiling of St. Pauls
 Photography wasn't allowed at St. Pauls but I was a ninja photographer and snapped a quick picture when no one was looking
 Ever since I was very little I have loved this sculpture by Henry Moore
 "London bridge is falling down"
 Oh look, a pigeon
St. Pauls from the Wobbly bridge

 My parents on the tube

 Walking into the rain room
 A group of people preparing to enter the rain
 A couple in the rain

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