European Delights 2009 travel blog

Blackfriars

Bodyworlds

Colonial House in Dulwich Village

London bridge

Oxford street

Shoe lane

Spittlefield market


Monday August 3rd

I was intending to get up early this morning and head into town with Karoline, but slept right through her knocking and my alarm! And then didnt awake until 10 or so. If I was that tired my friend must be worse for wear having had to go to work.

I made my way later to retrieve my big backpack from the hotel I was at with Dad. Its a lovely sunny 21 degrees with a lovely 'Southerly' wind. My new teacher friend explained that being above the equator, the warm winds come up from the south. She had to explain this a couple of times before I snapped out of my blonde haze, he he!

Am currently sneakily using the hotels free internet (!) then I plan to go for a walk to Oxford street after visiting the Brittish museum. Then I'll return for my bag and go back home for a quiet night. Bodyworlds tomorrow YAY!

Tuesday August 4th

Had fun today! I took myself off to London Bridge, took the wrong train but ended up right next to a port so i took the 'Clipper' or catamaran up the Thames to the O2 areana. This is where Bodyworlds was being held. Strange looking building and appears to be in an industrial area. It is where Michael Jackson was to hold hs 50 concerts.

Bodyworlds is a world travelling, world famous exhibition that has been seen by more than 26 million people worldwide.The bodies have been preserved by a process called Plastination – a groundbreaking method for preservation invented by Dr Gunther von Hagens in 1977. This exhibition features over 200 real specimens with a focus on health, wellbeing and the ageing process. It is an amazing insight into the human lifecycle, the mysteries of how the human body develops through time; at its most radiant and as it changes, matures and finally wanes. The exhibition shows the complexity and vulnerability of the human body through anatomical studies of the body in distress, disease and optimal health.

There was a lot of information to digest, much of it common knowledge, so it could have benefitted from interactive media stations, demostrations and adding in a little of the wonderment created by peering into the human bodies inner workings. It was a little too matter of fact for me. Two plasinates were a bit gross, there was a horse rearing with a man split in three - showing his muscles, is skeleton and his circulatory system. the other was right at the end where you walk out to the final room to come across one hell of a giraffe.

After a long three hours in here, I finally emerged to catch the train towards home to meet with my friend at her local for dinner, a few wines and a good chat.

Wednesday August 5th

Today was lovely walking around the area in the morning then popping home for a while to research a few activities on the internet. I was thinking of going to see Les Miserables, though the tickets were around $120. A quick hello to the housemates, then later on I met with my friend, her friend Ruth from our Spain trip and another Brooke. We all went to a great Mexican restaurant named Wahaca. It had a tapas feel, with very good bites at reasonable prices. It was super busy with a queue down the stairs, once seen to you are given a beeper to let you know when your table is ready! It was great to chat over good food, ending in spainish chocolate churros.

Thursday August 6th

Today was a great day! I was introduced to my friends-flatmates-girlfriend, Gianni. We trotted off to Spittlefield market, posed as a traditional English market, the days themes was Vintage and Antiques. It was a good escape from the cloned high street where we were unleashed to discover 'hidden gems' from fashion, arts to interiors and property, all as we wandered through streets steeped in history but recently immersed in creativity and cutting edge style. Theres 5 different local markets to choose from including the famous, Old Spitalfields Market which has been voted Best London Market 2 years in a row.

Spitalfields may not sound an attractive place, but the area East of the City takes its name from, a priory hospital known as St Mary's Spital founded in the late 12 th Century. Most of the area was built after the great fire of London in 1666 after the plague the previous year caused such devastation to the local population who were traders and market stall holders. Nowadays Brick Lane is a centre of Bangladeshi culture beloved of Londoners for the hundreds of restaurants that line the street on both sides. Banglatown is the most recent incarnation of a neighbourhood that welcomed successive waves of immigrants. First it was the Huguenots fleeing religious persecution in continental Europe. They brought with them sklills in weaving, especially silk yarns. Their beautiful houses adorn Fournier St, Princelet St and Wilkes St. Our walk passes along all three of these lovely roads.

There was lots to look at and much I wanted to buy, but was, I am proud to say, successfully a scrooge. The only purchase I made was a $20 winter dress and some cheek rouge. After a cup of tea, I bid farewell to Gianni to catch the train and meet Karoline in a town called 'Angel'. It was busselling and coud be described as St.kilda-ish. We had a fantastic dinner at Afganhi Kitchen, OH SOOOOOO YUMMY, and really well priced. It would do well in Richmond. We then ran through the pouring rain (a months worth of rain fell in a little over 2 hours!) to see 'Harry Potter'. I enjoyed the movie, even if it wasn't one of the best, more so enjoying my frieds company. It took us an hour to get home, and by then I was absolutely pooped!!

Friday August 7th

Had a rather lazy day today. I did however go on a short audio tour, it is run by the city and is free. The one i took was named 'Notorious London' abalst with tales of robbery, murder, prostitution, fraud, bankruptcy - it's all here in this walk I tells ya!. The walk started at Blackfriars Underground. There is not much left to see of the places described, so I had to use my imagination. Some aspects of the walk were lurid and unsavoury. It kicked off with the unsolved mystery of Roberto Calvi who was found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge, weighed down and with his pockets full of money. The route took me through the site of the former Fleet Prison and the former Bridewell royal palace and prison where convicted prostitutes were publicly flogged to entertain the curious and encourage other offenders to cease and desist from their ways. Many of the prostitutes plied their trades in the prisons themselves, encouraged by the warders and governor who made a tidy sum out of the business.

Lawyers did their business in one of the inns of court and on this route they jostled and fought with the criminal fraternity in the Whitefriars/Alsatia area outside their gates. An early example of physicians curing themselves, or perhaps not. I crossed Holborn Viaduct and got a fine view over London towards the River Thames before descending into Shoe Lane, another notorious place where respectable people would not be seen dead, or if they were they might if you know what I mean. Here cutpurses would routinely relieve them of their money and maybe sell their cash back to them shortly afterwards. Here also was Mother Clap's Molly House, a male brothel.

Rather interesting I must say! Although 'white cloud' was looming it was still quite warm so I caught the train to Charing cross and walked around Covent Garden. I stopped by St.Pauls Church, Jubilee Market and wandered the theatre district. I then met with my friend Karoline at her work nearby, saying a quick goodbye as she is off to visit family in Austria. I am now relaxing at home, just ate a yummy spicy pasta with a 'vino de casa un tinto' and am actually looking forward to a DVD night. I was to meet my friend whom moved here during our 2003 European escapade, but she had to go to Turkey for work. Nevermind, I have tomorrow to look forward to, I am lining up early to try and get day tickets to see Jude Law in a quaint little theatre presenting Hamlet.



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