Friday, October 24, 2008

London, Getting There

Happy is England! I could be content
To see no other verdure than its own;
To feel no other breezes than are blown
Through its tall woods with high romances bent.

LAX to London, Day 1 Oct. 23, 2008
Between yesterday at 8:30am and today at 12:30pm (LA time -aka 8:30pm in London) I have gotten a little less than 1 hour of sleep. I was so looking forward to a nice long plane ride too; a rare chance to relax, read, watch movies I haven't had time to see, listen to my audiobooks, and after days of being too excited to rest, it was supposed to be a chance to sleep. The plane stayed aloft, but my opinion of my flying experience lost altitude quickly.

The seats appeared to be rearranged to be packed more densely than my carry-on luggage. The back of the seat in front of me was three inches from my knee when the passenger occupying it was seated upright, but when she reclined, my knees were either jammed into the back or spread to avoid the intrusion. My boyfriend and I carefully chose seats in the very back of the plane, believing that if we got seats in the back with lots of space behind them, we would be able to take full advantage of reclining without jamming anyone's knees. Even with many feet of space behind us, our seats reclined less than the ones in front of us (much to the discomfort of my knees). To end the unhappy part of my tale, my tray was broken, and during our descent into Heathrow, the plane started leaking on me (or, rather, on a picture of Anne Hathaway's ample bosom on the back of the in-flight magazine).

On the bright side I was able to realize my goal of watching “Hancock” with Will Smith (it was much better than the critics said), and got to watch “The Edge of Love” with Kyra Knightly and Sienna Miller, which is about two of the women in Dylan Thomas' life, which I enjoyed. The highlight of the trip, however, were the free alcoholic beverages-- yes, even with the financial crunch, the airlines still booze up their international passengers gratis.

London Day 1 Contd.
Our first day in London began at 12:00pm when our plane landed. We lugged our wheeley-bags to The Imperial hotel on Russel Square, just around the corner from the British Museum, cleaned ourselves up, and collapsed on the twin beds in our closet-sized room. It's clean, it doesn't smell funny, its a quick walk from anything in Central London, and it was thrown in with the plane tickets for 2 nights-- good enough for us.

When we were somewhat recovered, we ventured out to attempt to find a raincoat for my boyfriend. So off we went to the shopping mecca that is Oxford Circus, with me pulling him in to almost every store along the way and him dragging me out by the hand with my eyes still locked on the store window displays. The one-stop-shop for youthful London fashion is TopShop: multiple floors of mens' and womens' shoes, coats, dresses, sweaters, and accessories. Come to TopShop if you want to watch the young and beautiful from every corner of the world converge and push each other back and forth for time in front of the mirrors. The boyfriend didn't find the coat he wanted, but I tried out every single one in the ladies' section, doing my share of pushing for mirror time, and came out with a knee-length blue wool coat with subtle orange stitching and burnt orange satin lining and a matching scarf (£111 total).

On the way back, I saw the green coat I've been dreaming about for the past two years in a shop window. Everything about it is perfect: the shape is more like a dress than a jacket, and there are velvet rosettes sewn into the right lapel. It fits like it was tailored just for me. I couldn't resist: £129.

By this time, my boyfriend was exhausted, both from shopping and from holding my coat and purse while I tried on clothes, so we found one of the many hole-in-the wall restaurants and sat down. The restaurant is called Ooze Risotteria (62 Goodge Street, London, W1T 4NE), and while it has many other items on the menu besides Risotto, I don't recommend them. The house wine had no body, the bruschetta appetizer lacked taste and the tomatoes appeared to have come out of a can—but the Zucca e Salvia risotto (butternut squash with sage and walnuts) was exceptionally good. A good risotto requires patience and unwavering meditative attention, which might explain why the other food was lacklustre. Dinner was around £20 for two, plus wine and appetizer.

With our wine to fortify us against the chilly night wind, we trudged home along cobbled streets still twinkling under the lamplights from the gentle rain.

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