Aug 15, 2006

London with Moe

A few days later I spent my long weeked in London with my friend Moe. The weekend was awesome because not only did I have someone who knew the city and could show me around, but Moe's a wealth of photographic knowledge that he was more than willing to share. Plus he's always good for a laugh.

Aren't you Moe?

Ha! Revenge for all those photos you snapped of me. And just think, the first shot is even funnier. I showed mercy in posting this one...

Of course, like all things that seem to involve me this summer, the trip didn't quite go off without a hitch. Friday we were supposed to meet in Leicester Square close to noon. I didn't know how to get there so I got on the National Rail website, wrote down directions, and headed out on my way.

Well some how I ended up in the city of Leicester, an hour outside of London... instead of Leicester Square in London. Good thing I had a rail pass. The funny thing is when I asked people in Leicester how to get to Leicester Square, none of them knew what I was talking about. And this is supposedly a famous place in London.

Oh, and for the record... those crazy Brits pronounce it Lester, not Lie-kester. How they get Lester, I have no idea. Neither did Moe, which made me feel a little better. But still, Lester? Come on people.

Anyway, after a few questions and text messages, I figured out that although I was on time, I was not where I needed to be. An hour or more later I returned to London, found Moe, and we were on our way.

Oh look... it's the view out my window on the way back to London.

With our Oyster Cards we were able to travel around a large portion of the city by bus or underground, and so we tubed it pretty much every where. We saw Picadilly Circus twice the first day, during the day and at night. We also saw Leicester Square, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery, before making our way to the Thames.
There was a concert going on in Trafalgar Square, and people filled the steps up towards the National Gallery.

This is looking back on Trafalgar Square. The statue, like most things in Europe, was under construction, and then you can see the National Gallery behind it. Throw in a few double deckers and a phone booth and voila!

Once across the Thames we passed County Hall which houses Dali Universe, and exhibit of some of Dali's works. A few were outside close to the London Eye, and I have to say, they were pretty cool.

Elephant on stilts anyone?I'm not sure why this looks so dark when posted here... it's not, I promise.

We walked past the Tate Modern and bought tickets to see Antony and Cleopatra at the Globe Theatre on Saturday night before crossing the river to walk past St. Peter's Basilica.

The day passed quickly, and as I hadn't seen anything but the buildings along the Thames and Greenwich Village, I basically followed Moe blind just taking it all in. I didn't have a place to stay in London so I had to take the train back to Brighton, and then get up the next morning to do it all over again.

Picadilly Circus, which for obvious reasons is far more impressive at night. And this place is so bright, I didn't even need a tripod for this shot. Totally crazy.

Saturday we spent quite a bit of time in Camden Town, a huge outdoor market with so many different vendors and shops it's insane. I'm pretty sure you could buy anything there. Well, anything other than a wind chime because I tried to find one and couldn't.

Like I said... almost anything.

We also went to Oxford Circus where there were several other shops, but by the time we made it there, most of them were closed. I think we also hit up Soho that night before heading back over to the Globe to see Antony and Cleopatra at midnight.

I know Shakespeare is supposed to be phenomenal live, but this play just wasn't. The theatre was really cool, but the acting was in need of... well, a lot. And Moe and I chose to stand, which gets a little annoying after three hours when you've been walking all day. I wanted to make it back to see A Comeday of Errors which got much better reviews, but it never happened.

It was a little after 3am when the play was done so I was stuck in London for the night. I say stuck like it's a bad thing. Even without a tripod I got some pretty cool night shots along the Thames before the sun started to come up around 4:30ish. And that image... totally copyrighted, so don't even think about it. Hahaha... yeah, right.

We went to his hostel but couldn't get in because security wasn't at the desk, so we wandered around the city before returning a few hours later. At about 7am I crashed on the couch in the lobby for a few hours and then we took off again.

Next on the list was China Town followed by The National Portrait Gallery which was really cool. Entrance into the museum is free, but there was a special exhibit of Angus McBean photographs that you had to pay to see. We willingly shelled out a few pounds and I'm glad we did. McBean photographed several famous people, but what was most impressive to me was his imagination and the settings he chose for his portraits. Google him, it's definitely worth it.

He also took the famous picture of the Beatles looking over the balcony that became the cover for a few of their albums. And since he has such famous clients, he kept a book for all those he photographed to sign. Needless to say, they had it on display, open next to the shots he took of the Beatles. I saw John Lennon's autograph, and although all four of them were there for some reason Lennon's, well... it was unreal. I stood there staring for a good few minutes. I mean John Lennon, really? Wow.

We hit up The Photographer's Gallery afterwards which had some really cool stuff, but unfortunately half of it was still in the process of being put up.

We also returned to The National Gallery in Trafalgar and actually went in this time. After a little over an hour we headed back to Leicester Square to meet a friend of Moe's, and then practically rushed to Oxford Circus to do some music shopping. I wanted to buy more than a few cds, but because the price was in pounds it would have cost me basically twice as much as if I bought it in the States. In the end I walked out empty handed, and Moe had quite a bit of new music.

Eventually both Moe and I had to catch our trains to get out of town. I headed back to Brighton and Moe took off to some fancy city that he called the English Riviera. Must be nice. But I enjoyed the weekend, saw some pretty cool stuff that I wouldn't have if not for Moe, and I got a few good shots in. Not that I got a lot of sleep, but when do I ever?

Gotta love exploring new cities with good friends.

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