The end of another great week in London. Sightseeing wise, this has been a bit of a slow week actually. Largely my last 7 days have been spent getting stuck in to some work projects and then after hours, sorting out a place to live. Fortunately the latter has now been sorted and I move in on Tuesday. I can't tell you what a load off my mind it will be to have a bedroom of my own, a flat mate to chat to, and a safe place to unpack my luggage and hang up my clothes. Simple pleasures, really.
Thursday night we had a social event at work and I tended the bar. I know, right? But fortunately the drink prices were all fairly helpful (50p, 1 pound) so making change was easier than I'd first thought. Plus when you're behind the bar, the opportunities to meet people greatly increase. So I got to chat to a lot of people who work in my building, but sadly I found it difficult to concentrate on the person's name AND their drink order. Something had to give - next time I'm going to ask everyone to wear name tags!
Yesterday was a truly gorgeous day in the city and I left the apartment early to explore. I had to be at lunch with some old friends from back home at noon, and so I had some time to kill. I went into Covent Garden and looked around at the market, which was an assault on my senses. Tourists poured in from positively everywhere and the accents around me was like being in a UN meeting - just amazing. I didn't buy anything, but I certainly saw some tempting things - jewellery, clothing, souvenir trinkets and the like.
I caught the tube up to Bond Street and walked up into the Marylebone neighbourhood which was just gorgeous. The Marylebone High Street is a mecca of artisinal shops, chic boutiques, gastro pubs and wonderful restaurants and cafes. We had lunch at one such cafe called The Providores and Tapa Room Restaurant and it was excellent - particularly the delicious and very strong coffee (thanks to the NZ chef, who clearly knows what he's doing). My friends left after lunch to attend a music concert in Hyde Park and I continued on my way, walking up and down the High Street at a leisurely place.
With no particular destination in mind, I boarded the Tube to Notting Hill Gate, simply deciding to walk around the neighbourhood and see what I could see. Coming up to street level I saw signs for Portobello Road Market and figured I should just follow the ever-expanding crowds and see what all the fuss was about.
If I ever (and I mean EVER) decide to go to Portobello Market on a sunny Saturday again, please smack me over the head with something very heavy. That experience was like hell on earth. The crowds made it impossible to get anywhere quickly, and the only way to make any progress was to walk in the middle of the road, meaning I couldn't see any of the market stalls anyway. I will return another time of course, because I do love a market atmosphere, but I will time things better next time. It serves me right for trying to browse at 3pm on a Saturday. I retreated into a nearby pub for a very cold (and very large) beer to recuperate from the rush. Delish.
Today is an equally beautiful day but I'm not so inclined to get out and explore. I am going to the pub later today to watch the England game - I seem to be a sucker for crowded environments these days, don't I? While I'm not a huge soccer fan by any stretch, it's important that I watch this game and cheer on England (well, somebody has to!). C'mon boys!!
Until next time x