London, ComicCon and London’s ComicCon

In October, teashoe, C., J. and me headed to London. Our reason to go was actually the ComicCon there, but since neither of us (except teashoe) had actually seen much of London, if anything at all, we also added a little bit of sightseeing to the mix. And it was absolutely brilliant.

2013-10-29 18.09.56[teashoe took this brilliant image. Just like a postcard.]

I have been to the UK several times in my life, but somehow I always managed to just travel through London and never stay there for longer than a day or so. So when the idea was born that teashoe and I could and should go to ComicCon in London (actually in the hope that somebody from Teen Wolf would be there, which wasn’t the case in the end), I pounced at the chance to get to cross two things off my To-Do-List: see London in more detail and go to a ComicCon. And then C. and J. decided that this would be absolutely awesome and that they’d come with us and off we went.

We traveled to London Thursday night and, after a slight delay, an oddyssee through the London public transport system (seriously, how complicated can you make buying a ticket?) and over an hour of riding the subway, we finally made our way to the apartment we had rented, where it took our landlady another 20 minutes to locate us at the back entrance of the house. Since it was about 1 am in the morning, neither of us was too happy about that.

But we finally got into our apartment – which was on the Isle of Dogs, on the 15th floor, overlooking the Thames and the financial district and it was gorgeous. And after a bit of acclimatization time, we just fell into bed and promptly slept until noon the next day.

20131025_110726[our view, as captured by C.]

It then took us quite a while to get started and to find food (we ended up at Wagamama in the basement of a mall. At least it had the most charming waiter) and then we talked and ate a couple of hours until we finally thought that we should probably get going if we wanted to catch the first day of ComicCon.

In the end we made it there, with a short stop to gape at The House of Fairy Tales which is, apparently, a traveling circus charity that seems to have a warehouse or something right around the expo center but it looked like the perfect set for a horror movie. I mean, look at that:

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Our first impression of ComicCon were loads of people in costumes partying out front. Inside there were many people, but it wasn’t that crowded and there wasn’t even a line to get our wristband – which is what we expected from Friday and why we wanted to get there and get a feel for the place first before the masses were there on Saturday.

We walked around the stalls and looked at the first cosplayers and at the huge minion and I instantly felt at ease there. I mean, there was a whole lot of stuff there I didn’t know shit about and there were more people than I usually like to have around me, but there really were some amazing things and things to love and the entire atmosphere was just wonderful.

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We stayed there basically until they kicked us out – which wasn’t that much time anymore anyway. Then we headed back to our apartment, where we quickly met aber_karramba and keewa who unfortunately couldn’t stay long. We then went on to Shoreditch High Street, where we met a friend of C.’s and a couple of friends of J.’s and went on the hunt for a pub. The area there is full of them and full of people as well, so it was more difficult to find a place where we could all fit rather than one at all. Rarely have I seen such a lively neighborhood.

On Saturday we first had an extended breakfast, then we got cosplay ready for the second day of the con. teashoe was dressed as genderbent Stiles Stilinski (from Teen Wolf), C. went as Shaggy (from Scooby Doo) and J. went as The Crow (from The Crow). I went as Wadsworth Zane (from Broodhollow). C. did my hair and scar and I could have never done it without him.

Anyway, again it took us much longer than we expected to get out of the house and we still always underestimated the distances in London, even though we thought we were extra clever by taking the Emirates air lines. All of that meant that unfortunately, I missed the Haven and the Warehouse 13 panel. But that was actually quite okay. Because the amount of people there was astonishing. Most were cosplaying and those cosplays were mostly absolutely fantastic. I thought there were many people there on Friday, but it was nothing compared to Saturday.

20131026_143759[That was actually a rather calm corner.]

We spent hours just being pushed through the halls, looking at people and their fantastic costumes and at the amazing stuff that was being sold. I exchanged a few words with Luke Surl and told him how much I liked his comics. He, in turn, showed me a picture of the hall that he managed to take somewhere higher up and that just showed the insane amount of people. After a couple of hourse we were pretty much textbook examples for death by visual overload.

That’s when we decided to head to the panel theater where we caught about 15 minutes or so of the Under the Dome panel which was, unfortunately, extremely boring. And then we just stayed there to see the EuroCosplay Championships.

At first I thought that I could never manage to stay awake during the entirety of the show. About halfway through – which was after 1,5 hours or so – they announced that they were now at the halfway point and I thought I would die. Or fall asleep right then and there. And then suddenly the time passed really quickly and another 1,5 hours had gone by.

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That the show dragged so much at first had nothing to do with the costumes which were pretty damn fantastic. Not all of the performances were equally great, though and there were a whole lot of things where I didn’t have an image of the original character (I don’t play many computer games or watch much anime and most of the costumes seemed to stem from there) which made it a little difficult to keep things straight in my head. [My favorites were Spider Splicer – who also had the best performance, in my opinion;  Toothiana; Imperial Guard Priest; the performances of Bilbo Baggins and Zaphod Beeblebrox; Blood Angels Assault Marine; Amira Halgal; Sarah Kerrigan.]  But in the end I really did enjoy it, though we decided to leave before the winners were announced because we were actually quite ravenous. [My only point of contention would be the lighting which was rather unfortunate sometimes, so that we just couldn’t see the costumes properly, even though we weren’t sitting that far back.]

Anyway. we had some food at the first restaurant we came across and then we headed back to the apartment and, on the way, shelved all plans to still go out somewhere. Instead we had some cider in the flat.

On Sunday, J. decided that she had enough ComicCon for one trip and left us in the morning to go to the Victoria and Albert museum, while C., teashoe and me headed back to ComicCon, sans costumes though. I still hadn’t bought a thing and I wanted to buy at least one comic at Comic Con, so I headed to the smaller stalls of the independent artists and bought a book off Luke Surl and one off Rusty Spoons.

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Then we went back to the theater to at least catch the second, albeit shorter, Haven panel. And it was wonderful. Lucas Bryant and Emily Rose were there and they had much fun with each other and with the audience and that translated to fun the audience had with the panel. They even did a small quiz where they gave the audience a chance to win some doodled on photos (and C. – who always insists that he is the least nerdy of us – surprised us all by winning one and getting to hug Lucas Bryant).

After the panel we made our way out of the Expo Center and said goodbye to ComicCon to head to King’s Cross where we met aber_karramba and L. We actually wanted to catch a train to Cambridge with aber_karramba (she lives there and wanted to show us around there a bit and go to a pub with us) but there was a huge storm warning and the trains weren’t really going that well, so instead we head a drink close to King’s Cross (it is amazing how difficult it is to find a British pub. Instead we ended up in a Thai restaurant) and then aber_karramba headed back to Cambridge so she wouldn’t get stranded in London.

We headed back towards our apartment, with an extended walk through the financial district, which is really awesome if you like modern architecture.

Back in our apartment, we tried to book theatre tickets for the following two nights, which was one of the most frustrating experiences ever, took forever and we were only semi-successful. We managed to book tickets for Wicked, but not for Billy Elliot.

2013-10-28 11.11.17[The blue chicken is a current art installation. In case you wondered.]

So on Monday morning, J. and me headed to Leicester Square and hit ticket booth after ticket booth, but without more success. So instead we ended up booking tickets online after all, for Much Ado About Nothing at the Old Vic that night.

After that mission was accomplished, we walked from Leicester Square, via Piccadilly Circus and Chinatown to Trafalgar Square and then onwards until we hit the Forbidden Planet Megastore where I had to leave a bundle of cash and got some wonderful books and comics for it. (What I didn’t get, though, was that beanie and I’m still thinking about it now. Actually, I want all variations of it.)

Then we walked on and headed to the British Museum. After one and a half hours there, though, and a wonderful stroll through particularly the Assyrian collection, the Parthenon and the Aztec collection, I was completely tilt and couldn’t take in any more. J. had a bit more stamina, but I think it was pretty okay for both of us when we had to leave to go and meet up with teashoe and C. who had been shopping in the meantime.

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We met at Camden Market where we had dinner and then explored the market a bit. There is a lot of cool stuff you can find there and the general market area and the former stables are pretty nice as well, so that was really worth a visit.

And then it was already time to head to the Old Vic. Unfortunately the production of Much Ado About Nothing was a disappointment [review tomorrow in detail] and the staff at the Old Vic rather unfriendly. C. took this photo of me during the break and was reprimanded because “everything is copywritten” in the theater. Which makes no sense whatsoever.

Oh well. They can’t all be winners. After the show we returned home and saved our evening by drinking cider together and watching Ylvis videos.

The next day was already our final day (though if you actually read through all of this, you’re probably thinking “Thank fuck, she’s coming to an end!”) and it was our biggest sightseeing day.

20131029_122837_Richtone(HDR)

We started at the Tower of London (where C. was rather disappointed that it wasn’t actually a tower), crossed the Tower Bridge to the south bank and then started walking, past City Hall along the bank until we reached the Shakespeare’s Globe (which we didn’t enter) and right next door Tate Modern (which we did enter).

In the Tate, we walked through the permanent exhibition but I have to admit that I didn’t manage to see all of it. For the last floor, not only was my brain on overload already and we didn’t have much time left, but there were so many people there, I knew I wouldn’t enjoy myself anyway.

IMAG0334[I think that was a Picasso piece, if I remember correctly.]

But on the floors we did saw there were some amazing pieces. I especially enjoyed Derek Jarman‘s Blue, a film project he made when he was already pretty far gone and losing his eyesight (he was suffering from Aids) and the medication made the little he still saw look blue. So he made a film where the visuals consist only of a blue frame and you can hear dialogues and monologues about various topics with wonderful quotes like:

The shoes I’m wearing right now seem insufficient to walk me out of life.

Or

In the roaring water I can hear the voices of my dead friends.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to watch a whole lot of it. And honestly, I’ve never seen a more inconsiderate audience in a museum. People would walk into the projection room, talking loudly and just didn’t care to stop in the room either and it was very hard to listen.

20131029_160148_Richtone(HDR)

After the museum, we continued along the bank until we reached the London Eye. We didn’t go on it (because it costs like an insane amount) but rather crossed to the North Bank again and went to a nice pub there (the Sherlock Holmes) where we finally managed to actually eat English food (it’s surprising how hard that was).

Strengthened by food, we made our way towards the last leg of our journey: walking past Big Ben and Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace. Since it was rather late already, it was all closed and we didn’t have time anyway to do more than get an impression from outside and take a couple of photos.

Because then it was time to see Wicked. Which was absolutely wonderful and I basically cried my way through it and had goosebumps and it was just perfection. (Proper review follows.)

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After the show we returned back to the apartment, began to eat all our leftover food and started packing because we had to leave extremely early the next morning. Which came way too quickly and suddenly we were saying good-bye to London, though I think we’re all set on coming back soon.

3 thoughts on “London, ComicCon and London’s ComicCon

  1. Pingback: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time | kalafudra's Stuff

  2. Pingback: London, Essex, Cambridge | kalafudra's Stuff

  3. Pingback: Crowds in London | kalafudra's Stuff

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