The Swinging City

Camden & London

A few weekends back, 6 of the guys decided to go on a pub crawl of London and see the city the following day.  The Camden Pub Crawl had 5 bars on the itinerary, with specials and surprises all along the way.  The freebies, discounts, line hoppers, and giveaways alone were worth the price of the tour.  The coolest part of the crawl was that we got to meet people from all over, and I was surprised to see that roughly half of the people there were American college kids studying abroad in London.  One large group of kids we met were from the University of Tennessee, and they were a riot.  Highlights of the bar crawl include Proud (a 200-year-old horse hospital turned into a club with stables fitted out as booths), the Blues Kitchen and Barfly (two of London's best-loved live music venues), and the world-famous mega-club KOKO.  KOKO is built inside an old theatre, complete with opera boxes and the biggest disco-ball in Europe.  The KOKO theatre was something I was definitely not expecting, but it was such a great place to see a concert.  It reminded me of being in the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago.  The band Saint Raymond performed, and they sounded very similar to Vampire Weekend.  Afterwards, a female DJ played house music and dance hits for the rest of the night.    

 Proud Camden Stables

Proud Camden Stables

 Proud Camden Stables

Proud Camden Stables

 KOKO Theatre in Action

KOKO Theatre in Action

 "Stand Apart from the Crowd" 

"Stand Apart from the Crowd" 

 KOKO Bar

KOKO Bar

On Saturday, the guys and I ventured throughout the city of London.  We started at the British Museum, which is home to 8 million pieces, ranging from works of art to medieval pieces of history.  What boggled my mind is how much of it wasn't British, meaning, a large amount of the items the British armies simply took over the years.  This has created a controversy over these pieces, and many believe that some of the pieces should be returned to their home countries.  Included at the museum were (some pictured below): Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles of the Pantheon, sarcophaguses,  and the mummy of Ginger.  

Next on our journey we headed off to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square.  The National Gallery houses 2300 paintings from all different eras, countries, and artists.  We saw works from the likes of Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Claude Monet.  One of my favorite paintings at the Gallery was The Ambassadors, by Hans Holbein the Younger. This German painting is so cool because of the meticulously rendered skull on the bottom of the portrait.  Looking at it straight on, there appears to be some skull like object fading away, but if you were to look at it from the far right of the portrait, a morphing starts to occur as the skull becomes more in focus and starts to face the correct perspective.  I couldn't take too many photos within the Gallery because photography was not allowed, which is nonsense if you ask me.  Other gems included Leonardo Da Vinci's "The Virgin and Child with St Anne and St John the Baptist."

Proceeding the Gallery we explored Trafalgar Square itself and the streets around it.  We came across the China Town of London, and it became apparent that it was also the first day of the Chinese New Year, and everyone was celebrating and engaging in new years festivities.  Within Trafalgar Square, people were setting up for a concert for the Chinese New Year that was to be held that evening.  Trafalgar Square was especially beautiful that day, and I can remember because of earlier rain showers that there were rainbows all over the place.   In the square you can see Nelson's Column, the National Gallery, multiple fountains and statues, and more recently, a very large blue rooster statue unveiled in 2013 named "Hahn/Cock."

Next stop was the Buckingham Palace and St. James Park.  For some reason, I expected there to be a Buckingham Fountain that the Buckingham Fountain in Chicago modeled after, but instead there is a Victoria Memorial Statue in front of the Palace.  Nonetheless, both the Palace and Memorial were remarkable, and the large golden gates in front of the Palace with the Royal Guards reminded me of being in front of the White House in Washington, D.C.  We walked through St. James Park on the way back, which I mistakenly thought was Hyde Park, and in the park there were beautiful ponds, lots of birds, and gorgeous landscapes.   

The last leg of our trip included seeing Westminster Abbey Church, 10 Downey Street, Palace of Westminster, and of course, Big Ben.  We were freezing on the Westminster Bridge, but equally in awe, looking up to Big Ben and the entire Palace on the River Thame with the London Eye behind us.  On the way to the train station, we saw the Royal Household Calvary, all mounted on horses, do a public demonstration of the changing of the guards.   

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I enjoyed our couple of days in London and Camden with the guys, and I can't wait to go back to London, perhaps to see Hyde Park, Tower Bridge, and go on the London Eye.  

Thanks for reading.  Until next time!

Football Update: After beating the AUR Rhinos 52-0, we beat the Essex Blades 62-0 the following Sunday; both record setting games.  This sunday, I scored my first football TD with a strip-sack fumbled recovery TD for 20 yards. Also got 4.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 recovered fumbles, and multiple tackles for loss and good blocks on O-Line that lead to long runs and offensive TDs.  The Pythons have a very good opponent coming up this Sunday, and we look to continue our performances to push into the playoffs.  

Coming Up: Quick day trip to Bath and Stonehenge Saturday.  In March, we have two trips planned, one weekend to Amsterdam, and the following weekend to Galway, Ireland to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.  Looking to go to Switzerland (Interlaken and/or Geneva) the weekend after Ireland.  Stay tuned!