Woke up and realized that I would be responsible for buying my own towels, thank you, so I ran over to the Queens Market in Upton Park which is fantastic open air market where vendors sell African and Caribbean food. I also saw lots of fabric vendors, so I hoped that I’d luck on some towels and found a couple – two for £10. I felt like a real Londoner walking through the streets with my carrier bag – it was a nice feeling.
After showering, we went off on our day to see the British Museum. Last time we were in London – a good 5 years ago – we only stayed for a week, so we didn’t get a chance to see the British Museum, but this time it was a priority. It has a great antiquity collection – and we saw lots of artifacts from ancient Egyptian, Greek, Chinese, and Korean cultures. The coolest thing I think I saw was Cleopatra’s mummy – I have mixed feelings about mummies and Egyptian artifacts, because it’s really glorified grave robbing. And my partner pointed out that the British Museum has had a spotty history when it comes to its handling of its collection (this and this), but it’s still a “must” for those planning a trip to London. Below are some pictures I took:
We spent a long time at the museum – it’s free (like most museums, for now) and it’s easy to spend hours there. It’s pretty easy to get intimidated by all the work, but it’s worth the long walk through the collection.
After the British Museum, we started to wander through the streets of London, making our way toward Oxford Street and Piccadilly Circus, and walking past the Trocadero. Basically, London’s answer to New York’s Time Square, the Trocadero is a neon-sluiced area with lots of tourist traps. We also went around the Convent Garden and saw a contortionist perform for a crowd and an amateur opera singer sing for her supper at a street side café (her sign simply said, “Please pay me!”).
I stopped at a Waterstone’s – one of my favorite bookstores – we had one in Chicago years ago. I’m still mourning the loss of my Kindle, and bought a couple books. We stopped at a Starbucks, where a nice young lady in front of me was talking her mother to a West End show, Thriller – Live, the jukebox musical about Michael Jackson. The older woman was so excited about the show, that while she was waiting for her drink to be made, she was singing Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” while gripping the show’s brochure. The daughter was good-naturedly embarrassed by her mom’s enthusiasm, but I found it sweet.
We ate dinner at Mother Mash – a sentimental favorite of ours because we ate there five years ago on our first trip together. I had mash with bangers, while my partner ordered the special: lamb pie. The place is great and we had a nice dinner for two for under £23. The “hook” for Mother Mash is that you get to choose what kind of mash you want (I ordered mine with cabbage and green onion, my partner ordered his with horseradish), you then choose a protein (sausage or pie), and then a sauce (gravy – we both chose a parsley liquor). The place is on Carnaby Street and is great for people-watching. We ate our dinners rather quickly, and left our plates clean, which prompted the server to say, “Hey, you guys must’ve been very hungry!” which is something I never thought I’d hear as an adult.
The train ride back to our place in Newham was nice, but there is a slight Cinderella feeling, having to travel back to our pumpkin coach. The Italians who live with us are consistent in their boisterous good nature – playing loud music and clanging about in the kitchen with the pots and pans.
Tomorrow our planned destination is the Victoria & Albert Museum.