At the end of October, teashoe, puzzledpeaces, C. and me went to London for a (very) long weekend, where we met aber_karramba, D.+K., skittlesandolives, s_whiteant, inkbot kowalski and elbi. The original idea was to visit the ComicCon again (as we did two years ago), but it wasn’t as much of a part of the entire program this time than it was the last time. Instead we just enjoyed the city.
teashoe, puzzledpeaces and me arrived in London Thursday night. Or actually Friday morning. Our plane was scheduled to arrive at 10.40pm, but we were very late. So late, in fact, that we barely caught the penultimate Gatwick express into the city and then had to take a cab to the hostel where C. was already waiting for us (he spends a lot of time working in London). We couldn’t do much more than fall into bed that night.
The next morning we couldn’t really sleep in because D.+K. (who got married the last time I was in the UK) were expecting to get breakfast with us. We met them in the Lobby, then just headed to a breakfast place around the corner and caught up. After talking for longer and eating far more than expected, we headed back to the hostel and spent another hour or so planning our stay in a little more detail. Because we’re that organized and have everything scheduled far in advance.
But once we had a tentative plan for the next four days, we left C. at the hostel to work some more and made our way to Camden Market where all the foodstalls seemed to be gone – apparently, they’re renovating. But it didn’t really matter because even without foodstuff there is enough to see and explore there. D.+K. wanted to try a sushi place there a try so we went and ate again after a surprisingly short amount of time after the extensive breakfast. The sushi was really good, though.
After the food break, D.+K. went their own way – we would meet them again the next day – and teashoe, puzzledpeaces and me kept browsing the market some more. (Of course we also spent money. Among other things in a shop called Pop Trash Candy which I just thought hilarious.) When the market started to close down, it was time for us to head back into the city to meet C. as we had tickets for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that night (review follows).
After the show we headed back towards the hostel where aber_karramba was waiting for us – she had to still work Friday the whole day. Once we were a little caught up with our lives, we sank into bed though.
On Saturday we (all of us hostel dwellers plus D.+K.) had arranged to meet skittlesandolives and s_whiteant who happened to be in the UK at the same time for a short trip. We met on The Strand, had an extended breakfast and then walkd to the Orcs Nest and – how could it be any different – The Forbidden Planet. Personally I can say no to board games, but it was no surprise to anyone when I spent an inordinate amount of money at the latter. (I had my own Forbidden Planet budget. That’s how I travel now.)
What was a surprise though – to puzzledpeaces and me at least – was that Garth Nix happened to be there as well for a signing. Excitedly we got in the queue (which was not too long which was good because it was drizzling) and I am a little ashamed to say that I actually squealed a bit when I exchanged my five words with him.
When we got out of the queue, skittlesandolives and s_whiteant had already moved on – they didn’t have much time in London and wanted to see more than a bookshop (for whatever reason ;)), while D.+K. decided to take their shopping elsewhere. C. had also decided to cut his visit a little short, so it was the four of us – puzzledpeaces, teashoe, aber_karramba and me – who headed towards the Globe Theater where we were supposed to catch up with D.+K. Unfortunatels they were a little late and we decided to catch the penultimate tour of the day and not wait for them – only to them spy them in the ultimate tour of the day.
In any case, the tour was really interesting and it was fascinating to see how much theater had changed in the last centuries, but also how much it stayed the same and how ingenious some of the design was to allow for some very nice special effects. And of course, to hear how painstakingly they recreated all of it.
After our tour, aber_karramba and teashoe headed to Gabriel’s Wharf where we were supposed to meet C. for dinner, while puzzledpeaces and I waited for D.+K. to finish their tour, so we could say goodbye to them properly – they were leaving the next morning and had made other dinner plans. As we were still taking our leave, aber_karramba and teashoe returned to inform us that Gabriel’s Wharf was, unfortunately, in the other direction than we had told them and they had gone quite a way before noticing.
In the meantime it had started to really rain – no more drizzle, actual drops falling from the sky. C. was waiting in the cold, the Pieminister had to give our table away and until we all made it to the Wharf, we were really wet and just ducked into the next restaurant and had pizza instead of pie. Afterwards we just headed to the hostel and decided to call it a night.
The next day was Sunday – our ComicCon day. We had decided that we would never, ever go back there on a Saturday because holy shit the crowds and since one day seemed enough for us this time, we opted for Sunday instead. After taking our time with breakfast and getting ready for the Con (no cosplay this year, but a little make-up for all of us except puzzledpeaces), we finally made it there around midday, so we had a few hours to explore the Con before they closed. That was just enough to explore the big hall. If we had wanted to see any panels, one day might not have been enough.
After looking at the various stalls, I left some money in the artist alley (for a Handsome Cat pack, Kelly Angel‘s Say Hello, Francesca Dare’s Penny Blackfeather, Simon Birks and Tom Eddy’s Gone and a beautiful woodprint of two Tyrannosaurus heads) and then it was time to leave – they were closing and we were completely tilt: too many people, too many impressions, too much to see (including awesome cosplay). It took us a while to get away though because there were just so many people trying to leave at the same time.
After heading back to the hostel and storing our newbought treasures there, we went out once more to try and find dinner at Spitalfields. The market was closed already, so we didn’t get to see that, but we did find food. Afterwards we wanted to drink something at the hostel bar, but the general energy level was really low and we had to wait a bit for C. who had to meet somebody real quick. In the end, C., aber_karrambe and I drank a quick drink in the hostel bar and then joined puzzledpeaces and teashoe who had opted for sleep already.
On Monday, we dispersed in vairous directions and it was my unfortunate lot to stay in the hostel and finally get to the work I had had to take with me. C. had to work as well, but around lunch time the both of us let work be work and caught up with the others, meeting inkbot at Gabriel’s Wharf to give pieminister another try. This time we were actually successful and had great pie.
After the food, C. went back to work, inkbot back to school and the rest of us headed towards the Natural History Museum where we waded through a sea of people. We wanted to meet elbi who had arrived in London in the meantime. Unfortunately his flight was late, so we agreed to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition without him and meet him later.
The exhibition was absolutely fantastic. Great, varied photography that only had in common that it was always stunning and intriguing. And afterwards they had a nice gift shop where I used all my willpower to limit myself to buying postcards.
When we left the museum, we caught up with elbi and pretty immediately split up again, teashoe and aber_karramba trying to get spontaneous theater tickets while elbi, puzzledpeaces and I headed towards Victoria station to grab dinner before C. and I would see Billy Elliot a little later (review follows, as usual).
When C. and I returned to the hostel, everybody but elbi (who was still out) had already turned in, so we waited until elbi returned and then hit the hay ourselves.
The next day, as this already quite lengthy report suggests, was actually our last day in London. Or at least for aber_karramba, teashoe and me, the others had another couple of days yet. We decided to go for a walk and I finally got enough postcards at the Tower of London to send off. We walked along the North Bank until we reached Borough Market, did a quick turn there, then returned towards the Tower and the hostel along the South Bank.
There we met up with C. who had had to work and went for a last lunch together in Brick Lane. And then it was already time for teashoe and me to grab our bags, say our goodbyes to everyone and head towards the airport. Everything was perfectly timed (so close, in fact, that probably a single mishap would have incredibly stressed us) and we landed in Vienna without any incidence (apart from a little fretting whether they would take issue with my handbag in addition to my cabin luggage. We managed together).
Let me tell you, London is great, but there were just so many people everywhere we went, that I almost cried from happiness when I saw the half-empty airport in Vienna. I’m just not made for crowds for longer periods of time. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not itching to go back again soon.