London – Day Four

Day One
Day Two
Day Three

By Day Four I started venturing from my itinerary.  I never have been much for schedules anyway so it was inevitable, really.  I was originally slated to go to Trafalgar Square (above), then Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, then to the British Museum, and finally to a show that night.  I’ve mentioned my uncomfortable tennis shoes before….so yeah, British Museum got cut from Day Four.  However, someone on the day tour of my second day insisted I must see Borough Market, so I added that in the morning.

Borough Market is a food/flowers market on Borough High Street open Thursdays – Saturdays.  If you are in search of a vegetable, a cheese, or a meat and are in London, this is the place to start.  Stalls packed in as tight as they can possibly get while still leaving a little walking room for customers.  Oh this is a foodie’s paradise!  My best friend would have loved it.  Vendor tables stacked with 20 different (probably homemade) cheeses, or mushrooms, or bread…  Then there are the food vendors.  Fresh falafel, vegan, vegetarian, quiches, burgers…and it’s all amazing!

One of the bread vendors.

Isn’t this place adorable?  The brick wall, the sign, the flowers…perfect.

I ate a falafel wrap which was fantastic, and I had some organic juice.  I also bought a “world’s best” brownie for later.  The market was awesome.  Just strolling through looking at everything for sale was pretty entertaining.

Next I hopped back on the tube and headed on over to Trafalgar Square.  Lots of people mulling about, probably some excellent people-watching to be had.

The day I was out there, these guys were preaching from the base of the statue.  They had the whole set-up, speakers and all.

Turn around and you’re standing right in front of the National Gallery.

Of course they don’t allow pictures to be taken inside the National Gallery.  I did my own version of a highlight tour.  I saw Rembrandt, da Vinci, and van Gogh.  As I walked from one painting legend to the next I would scan the other paintings, however, I found myself becoming quite the cynic as I strolled the rooms.  The people who sit on the provided benches and stare at paintings?  Yeah, I don’t get it.  I’m not an artist so that’s probably why but I don’t have the patience to sit and stare at a painting while I analyze it.

Fortunately you don’t have to be an artist to appreciate the greats.  Rembrandt had a portrait of an older woman that was so amazingly lifelike it literally looked like a woman sitting there with a frame around her head.  Truly fantastic.  Disappointingly they only had one piece of da Vinci’s and it wasn’t even a painting.  It was a sketch of two women.  As I am often impressed by the age of things, I put more attention on the yellowed paper and frayed edges of the sketch.

Though he was the first I saw I mention his last because he was my favorite – van Gogh.  In a building of smooth, perfect paintings his textured canvases really caught my attention.  I wasn’t a fan of the famed yellow flowers in a vase, but they also had two landscape/nature pictures of his that I absolutely adored.  The texture of the paint was so perfect I think even a blind person could run their fingers over the canvas and see what he portrayed.  I don’t know, the texture just added another element to the painting.  Almost like a 3D effect.  It was stunning and I will be buying prints soon of my favorite.

After I left National Gallery I did make an attempt to go to the British Museum.  Remember those achin’ feet and uncomfortable shoes I mentioned before?  Yeah, I did a circle of Trafalgar Square without finding the street I was looking for, so I decided to head on over to Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square.

Not really much to see at Piccadilly Circus during the daytime.  At night it’s where most of the theatres are so it gets pretty busy.  There are those big billboards though (pictured above), and a little stroll down the street from the tube stop and you’ll find yourself at Leicester Square.

The famed TKTS booth of Leicester Square.

Leicester Square is basically a little park-like area with benches, surrounded by restaurants and a cinema.  I bought tickets to that night’s performance of The 39 Steps, a comedy based on a Hitchcock film and then got a little cup of ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s.  Though it was drizzling outside, I sat on one of the benches and ate my ice cream just kind of taking in the scenery.

The tkts booth (pictured above) they say is really the only trusted place to buy 1/2 price theatre tickets.  I didn’t have a problem at all and they got me pretty decent seats – that is if the man sitting in front of me hadn’t had a gigantic head.  I’m only 5’1″, people!!

I decided against trying to find the British Museum again and opted instead to go back to my hotel and rest before getting ready for that night’s show.

Those billboards are much more interesting at night.

I came back to Piccadilly Circus that night for the show.  It was at the Criterion Theatre which is small and old, but charming.  The show was great.  Four actors played all the roles and most of the comedy came from two characters switching back and forth, and also the improv of props.  Great show and I’m so glad I decided to see that one.

After the show I headed back to the hotel.  This was really the only night I ever felt the slightest bit unsafe during my entire week.  There was a guy on the tube that kind of freaked me out a bit, and then walking to the hotel there were three guys I was a little leery of.  However, nothing came of either situation and I made it to my hotel safe and sound!  🙂

Highlight of today was definitely van Gogh, and the show.

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