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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Home Again!

  Whew! I just got back from spending two weeks in London and I am exhausted! I have never walked so much in all my life. It might not have felt so arduous if the weather had been more typically English, but they are currently experiencing unseasonably warm weather. It was quite the adventure though. I saw and did things I have only ever dreamed of doing. For a peek at my pics, take a look at .

Top Five in London:
Note: Buy an Oyster Card to use on tube, bus and river ferry. It saves money if your stay is longer than a few days and saves a lot of time standing in line to buy a ticket. You will still do A LOT of walking, but this way you will do less.
1. Shakespeare's Globe Theatre- We saw by far the best rendition of Macbeth to every grace the gory, smoke filled stage. It was not only the best rendition of Macbeth, but the best in authentic stage effects for a Shakespearian play. It was probably the best performance I have ever witnessed on a stage. I can't say enough good things about it. There isn't a bad seat and you definitely get your money's worth. The Swan restaurant was excellent too and has a pre-theatre special. 
2.  Hyde Park- This was by far my favorite park there. It has the Diana Memorial Playground, which is modeled after J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. It even has its own Pirate Ship! It has the Diana Memorial Fountain for "paddling" or wading on hot days, as well as The Serpentine for swimming, boating and watching curious water fowel. It has flowers, trees and the Peter Pan statue. It is also right next to Kensington Palace. We spent a lot of time here.
3. Visit Portobello Road Market for antiques, crafts, vintage and retro clothing, good eats and a festive atmosphere. Saturday morning is a good time to go but remember to bring cash as many vendors don't have card machines. You can also visit Greenwich by river ferry/cruise if you have time. It is a good way to get to know all the sites on the river and it is less crowded than the tube. The Greenwich Market is full of good food from around the world and true artists. It is an adventure all in itself.
4. Visit Covent Garden for performers, colorful characters, the market and the shops. There is a gourmet cupcake shop that makes little works of art in edible form. It's a great place to take the kids.
5. Take a day trip to Dover to see the Castle, the Wartime Tunnels and the White Cliffs. If you don't go on a tour you will have a lot of hiking ahead of you, but it is worth it! You can even take the Chunnel to France if you like.

I went to several markets and shopped around for antiques, paper goods and ogled all the art. 
These are three of my favorites:
1. Blade Rubber Stamps is a must for local stamps and paper crafting ephemera. It was bright, festive, close to the British Museum and had friendly customer service (not a given in London). I got papers, ink and embellishments I can't wait to use.
2. Dorka is an artist I discovered tucked away at the end of the Portobello Street Market. Her stuff is fresh and modern, but a definite nod to the Hollywood vintage pin-ups and rouge I like.
3. Sass & Belle was one of the first shops I stopped in and really I could have walked away with many suitcases full of all things adorable. Not only is the shop a feast for the eyes, but it too had the rare friendly customer service I take for granted in University Town, USA.

Well, it was an inspiring trip to a world of huge buildings older than my own country, with tea pouring out their ears, no A/C, fountains galore, literary references everywhere and lots of magical moments to be had.

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