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Thursday, September 07, 2006

The List

Before we came to London Tom gave us a list of things to do. Today is our last day in London before we head to Paris so I’d thought I’d give you the run down (Tom’s parts are in bold).

The American Bar at the Savoy: exemplary Martinis served by waiters in white tuxes (tuxen?)

We go all dressed up and went last night. It is a very glamorous art deco style bar. Tom is the Martini expert, and I can’t say that I like them all that much so instead I had my drink of choice: Caiparihnas. Man they were good. Previously the best one I had had was at Havana, but this was beautiful. So smooth and tangy. We sat opposite a group of very fancy ladies who drank sparkling mineral water behind a large pile of Chanel bags. When we left we took photos of each other outside, thus revealing our class status. The waiters’ white tuxes were pretty cool.

Spitalfields: markets, curry, Jack the Ripper, diamond geezers, vintage clothes and Brit-Art groupies.

We didn’t do this exactly as Tom intended. Instead we did a brilliant Jack the Ripper walking tour taken by one of the world’s leading experts in the subject. Walking around the Old City and East End at night is pretty creepy in itself; it becomes magnified when you are listening to the story of a serial killer. Along the walk are various temples and Masonic buildings, oooooooooo conspiracy. This was kind of cool because the next day I went and toured the Great Masonic Temple. The mystery of an ancient society is stripped away somewhat when you see they have a giftshop. It ends up looking a little like a group of guys who get together to drink and wear frilly aprons.

Sir John Soane's museum: a weird collection of art and artifacts within a mind-boggling spatial experience

This is one of the highlights of my entire trip so far. The place is crammed full of pieces of art and adornment from around the world (possibly stolen). Every piece of wall space and most of the floor and ceiling are covered in these pieces. False tombs are created outside using parts of Turkish temples, Greek statues and Roman walls. And it’s free! I rated this slightly higher than the magnificent British Museum.

Tate Modern: a bit of a cliche, but the Turbine Hall is breathtaking in itself and there's a whole room dedicated to Rothko

We haven’t been in yet, but the outside is fairly cool. Oh and we got to see Peregrine Falcons perched on the chimney thanks to the RSPB.

Moroccan food: just about anywhere in Bayswater does great stuff (mmmm, tagine kofte), and even a prissy non-smoker like me was tempted to try a puff on the shisha

We went to do this as one of our first things in London, but all of the Moroccan places were shut! We had a great Indian meal instead. So no smoking for us.

Borough market: (insert drooling sounds here)

Missed it.

Raymond Revue Bar, Soho: boobies with class (apparently)

Nope, not here either.

The Jubilee Line Extension: every station was designed by a different architect, and most are stunning

Doh, three strikes. However the Gloucester Rd station has a great art exhibition on the station walls at the moment.

Lock & Co Hatters, St James': will you have the pith helmet, the silk topper or the superfine Montecristi Panama?

Um, four strikes? I did go to a cool hatter in Tokyo. I spent ages trying on hats (also the place was air conditioned)

Neal's Yard, Covent Garden: full of hippies, but a surprising and charming little space

Ah Crap! Five strikes.

Old Bond St: no, you can't afford anything, but it's fun to dream

This is where Tom’s list turned evil. We walked down New Bond St to Old Bond St. We could afford maybe one or two things on the New one but, as Tom points out, nothing on the Old one. But I wanted everything. Amy had to pull me away from the beautiful suit shops. Sigh.

Just go walking: start anywhere between Hyde Park and the Tower, and go wandering for a couple of hours, and you're bound to stumble upon all sorts of surprising historical and architectural gems (as well as several dozen Big Issue sellers)

This is a great suggestion. Doing this we passed hundreds of beautiful old buildings (most places here are older than the nation of New Zealand), and statues and parks and interesting people and smells (that last bit wasn’t sarcasm, I was talking about restaurants etc). The sandwich bars and the relatively warm temperatures have made for some lovely lunches down these streets. London’s alleyways are also not to be avoided. They often house pubs and eateries (or even more green space) that you never would have imagined.

So sorry Tom, I’ll try and do better next time.

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