Wednesday, March 19, 2008

London: Day 2


I woke up and got ready before John and went around the corner for a coffee and a croissant. Can I just say, how much I miss everything being in English? So much. When I walk into a restaurant or pub in Brussels you always have the language barrier in the back of your mind. Normally it’s not a problem but there is always the possibility of being hassled. So I sat and sipped a coffee and watched families and friends come into the little shop for a civilized breakfast on the sunny Saturday morning (all speaking English). American accents are everywhere in London. In Brussels I feel like an American oddity, but in London my countrymen stick out, but are everywhere.

I went and met up with John and we took the tube to St. Paul and walked across the Millennium bridge. We came across an anonymous protest against scentology where all the demonstrators were wearing guy fox masks or had their faces covered. Aparently this is a common demonstration style, and they protest the cult of Scientology often. . After snapping some photos we went into the Tate-Modern for a few hours. This museum is so impressive and seems to go on for days. We only managed to see one floor before leaving to go get lunch. It’s nice that the museums are free in London, it allows you to go in and see just part of them and plan to come back later. The museums are only one example of the massive public works the city has developed for it’s people.

We went to an Irish pub for lunch and I had a Genesis and a Fish n’ Chips like any good tourist. There were delicious though, and I was at the perfect level of hungry to devour the massive plate of food. After lunch we walked down the Thymes until we reached Big Ben and Parliament. We stumbled across a massive demonstration that coincided with the 5th anniversary of the war in Iraq. I picked the right day to come to London. John and I joined in and listen to some speeches and simply took in the political climate of the moment. I just took in the sight as an observer. The demonstration felt like on in the US, except the scale was much bigger and the police were not in riot gear. I couldn’t gage how many people were on the lawn in front of Parliament. We only caught the end rally of the demonstration. I think there was a march through the city and across the bridge to Parliament. Many of the signs related to Iran, and my mind kept wondering to thoughts about both America and Britain’s future role in the Middle East. The demographic of the protesters was across the board. From young hippies drinking beer, to proper aging Englishman, and Muslim groups in support of Hezbollah. Everyone was given a voice and seemed to be coming from every direction as they entered the area across from Parliament. The soup box speeches were of the same idealist nature as they are in the US. War in Iraq is wrong, told a dozen different ways. I’m glad I was able to experience the collective movement in any case. It was a high light of my trip in London.

After the rally ended we regrouped at John’s house before going to Camden for some live music. The venue was small in an intimate, not claustrophobic way. The first three bands were really different and didn’t really impress me. One of them had an awesome front man whose eyes nearly popped out of his head as he sang. The headliner was so good! I haven’t danced so hard in awhile. Really good vocals and a horn section, what else do you need? Plus after the live music ended John and I stayed and danced until at least 2. The club played old and classic American music. The kind I usually dance around the house to. It was a great atmosphere. There was even a gray heard man who looked like he was at least 70 dancing with all the girls on stage (amazing).

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