Friday, July 10, 2015

London Day 4 - Borough Market, Portobello Road, British Museum, and the Globe

Today started off with a trip to one of my favorite food places: Borough Market!

I picked up a few items for a picnic -

Salted beef sandwich (on rye bread with gherkins and mustard - absolutely delicious)

A pound of fresh cherries (The smallest amount they'd sell me.  I have a lot of cherries.)

And a "decadent" brownie

The market was actually far more crowded than it looks in these photos.  In fact, crowds seemed to be the order of the day.  I spent more time than I'd like navigating my way between people.

I also watched a bit of a cake decorating lesson:

By the time I bought a cold bottle of water, my hands were a bit loaded.  Fortunately, I had added a scarf to my purse this morning in anticipation of the play this evening.  A couple of well-placed knots, and I had a fabric bag for my picnic bundle.

I walked across the London Bridge, taking special note of this:

thanks to CPG Grey, and hopped on the tube (yay!  I missed you yesterday, tube!) to Notting Hill.

My plan was to find a park for my lunch and to check out the market on Portobello Road ("Portobello Road, street where the riches of ages are sold...").  Finding a park took longer than I anticipated, but I did find a tiny cafe in the middle of the street:

Eventually I got my picnic.  I wandered through the stalls a bit longer, then decided it was time to find a bathroom.  Rather than use the one in the middle of the street (or at least the entrance to it was in the middle of the street.  I didn't venture down below, though), I got back on the tube and went to the British Museum:

Because, hey, clean bathroom and the Rosetta Stone.  What else could you want in public facilities?

The museum was incredibly crowded and oddly hot.  I'm not sure if it was a lack of air conditioning or just the sheer number of bodies, but I couldn't tolerate it for as long as I'd like.  I visited a few of my favorite rooms, then headed back out to the cooler streets.

Just about then, everything was beginning to suck.  I had recently finished a bottle of water, so I didn't think it was dehydration.  I quickly diagnosed a more-rare yet more-serious condition: degelatoation.  I found a cure here:

and with a strawberry gelato cone in hand, found the city much more pleasant again.

The afternoon was waning, so I stopped in a French bakery for one of those delicious baguette sandwiches to go (this particular one had roasted red peppers and goat cheese) and hailed a cab to take me to the Globe.

The cabbie was chatty, which would have been nice if it hadn't been to tricky to hear him over the traffic noise.  We had an amiable conversation (from what I could tell, at least) and made friends over insulting the French (a natural subject given the strike yesterday).

I found a spot outside the Globe in the shade to eat my sandwich, then headed into the theater to see As You Like It.

It's not one of my favorites, but it did feel appropriate - Emily and I saw As You Like It in Stratford-upon-Avon on our first big Europe adventure 15 years ago.

This production was wonderfully traditional - traditional music with period instruments, Elizabethan costumes, no sets, and, of course, the stage:

This was the real magic of the whole thing.  I've seen plays in Globe-like theaters before, but there really is something wonderful about seeing a show and realizing that I am mere feet (and a couple of centuries) from the site of the original, to hear the characters talk about "the city" and to know that the city they're pointing to is right outside these walls.  Plus, the staging did a terrific job in using the audience space.  The actors were often among the groundlings, and the playfulness between them lightened the show.

The production itself was solid.  Celia was delightful - I've never seen it as such a comedic role.  Jacques and Rosalind were very good; and Touchstone was not only a terrific orator, but he whipped out his tap shoes (slippers?) and joined a musician for an excellent jig in the fourth act.  Orlando did not impress me especially.  In fact, while he delivered the prologue I wondered just why they would have cast an actor like him.  Then he took off his shirt to wrestle Sir Charles and the reason they cast him became abundantly clear.

It was dark by the time the show finished, but the temperature was just about perfect and the South Bank was full of people, so I walked along enjoying the weather, the conversations around me ("I just find it so annoying the way the audience laughed as if they actually understood the play!  As if there were jokes!"), and sights like these:

P.S.  The Globe has an awesome water fountain:

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