Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Picture-Postcard London (#7)

London is just a gorgeous city. Every block looks like it’s straight off a postcard. On our first outing, I didn’t see tall glass skyscrapers like they’ve got in New York City. Actually, there was a pretty cool glass building that looked like an onion, but what it was doing in historic London, I have no clue.
London’s brick steepled buildings and elegant mammoth public structures are just stunning. Some of the buildings are incredibly ornate. The ones built by the royals (whichever) are covered with engraved crests and gold and symbols of royalty – dragons, eagles, lions. “Ordinary” buildings have cornices and pillars and sculpted faces and shields. As I snapped away, everyone asked, “What are you taking pictures of?” “Everything!!” I answered. The architecture here is just that beautiful. The Parliament building is mammoth and imposing; Trafalgar Square is so fabulous, it should be a movie set; the Tower Bridge is so picturesque, it looks like they made it just so folks could snap pictures of it all day; Big Ben is just as photogenic as I believed it would be.
London streets look so dignified and pedigreed that it seems funny to see a Starbucks and a MacDonalds scattered here and there. Regent Street is part of the Crown Estate. It historically belongs to the monarch. The street lamps have crowns on them, and the Queens gets revenue from the stores here. The shops on that block have to fit the criteria of fashion and taste. So, it was also a little jarring seeing famous British shops, like Hamley’s Toy Store, standing side by side with the Gap.
We passed Picadilly Circus, the height of London’s entertainment district. It’s said that you can’t stand in Picadilly Circus for more than 37 minutes without seeing someone you know. Well, I proved that wrong!

The City
We found the skyscrapers. They’re in a part of London the folks call The City. What a name. Not only are there big windowed buildings, there are also a bunch that are colored red and yellow and orange. A new look for “city”. When I get home, I’ll upload some pictures. It’s quite a unique Wizard of Oz kind of look for a Wall Street-ish area.
PUB-lic Places
One characteristic about London, actually I think all of England, that I’d seen in the movies is the proliferation of PUBs. Really. There are pubs on just about every set of blocks. On some, there are pubs right after one another – usually decorated in black, red and gold. And they all have picturesque names, “The Dirty Dog,” “The George,” “Ye Olde Ale Tavern”, “The Shipwrights Arms,” “The Ole Bell”, “Coach and Horse”, “The Porters Basement Bar”, “The Northumberland and Arms”.
Our cabbie asked if we’d been to any of London’s pubs. Um, no. But we did go to Covent Garden and see all the cafes and quaint shops and flea market stuff. I tried to imagine Audrey Hepburn dancing around there with her flower basket in My Fair Lady. I couldn’t. But I had fun watching all the street performers engaging the crowd.
We stopped at the Waldorf to use the facilities, and there was a conference inside, The Future of Broadcasting. Just perfect for me, but, um no…I’m on vacation.

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