On our last full day, we decided to go off-bus. We kept our minds open and our feet moving. Since we hadn’t crossed paths with the ACN theatre group yet, we decided to join them for the Globe Theatre tour first thing in the morning. How nice to see those lovely faces!
At 9:30 our guide gathered us up and started walking us into the theatre. I CAN’T FOR THE LIFE OF ME REMEMBER HIS NAME–so let’s call him Chris. Chris was hysterical. His hair stuck up like he’d just rolled out of bed, and he had a great IDGAF attitude. Sassy. But he gave us lots of info about The Globe (or, rather, the replica which is what you tour when you visit “The Globe.”) The original, in its heyday, was located outside London in an area of town like modern Las Vegas. Theatre wasn’t a respectable activity in those days. It was seen as unsophisticated and lowly, like gambling, drinking, and BOWLING.
Inside the theatre felt quite small, but they used to fit 1,000 people in the standing area around the stage. The floor folk paid a penny to get in and were called “groundlings” or “penny stinkards.” Not the most flattering nicknames, but fitting. Chris said that things got pretty gross down there. Times were…less hygienic than they are now, and people were basically kind of drunk all the time. As you might imagine, there were a lot of bodily fluids sloshing around.
The Globe’s famous open roof doesn’t seem practical for the rainy climate in London, but the show went on rain or shine. The replica also has an open roof, and shows still go on, rain or shine. The groundling rate is now 5 pounds, which, accounting for inflation, is actually cheaper than it was in Shakespeare’s day. A penny back then would have had the buying power of 7 pounds today.
The original Globe didn’t last very long–it burned down in 1613, just 13 years after it was built. They were doing Henry VIII, and they fired a cannon that deposited a smoldering ember in the thatched roof. Might have been fine but for a gust of wind that stoked it into open flame. The theatre burned down in about 2 hours. Nobody died, but Chris said one man did lose his trousers. What’s funny is that they’d fired the cannon two other times and gotten away from it. Third time’s a charm. BUT, it wasn’t until the Fire of London in 1666 when they decided that thatched roofs were maybe not the best idea.
After the globe, Matt and I set out in search of food. It was almost lunch time, and we were ravenous. Since I’d yet to have beans and toast–ONE OF THE FEW THINGS I WANTED WHILE IN LONDON–we decided that wherever we ate needed to have an English breakfast. And the first place we found did. Guess it’s not that hard to get an English breakfast, if you’re looking for it.
We ordered from a gorgeous bartender with pink hair and tattoos. Matt and I were both stuttering our orders like idiots. I got a Bloody Mary, and when she asked me how spicy I wanted it, I said “very” and it probably sounded creepy instead of flirtatious. But I do like my bloodies spicy and she made it just right. Unfortunately, they lost our order, and I drank two Bloody Marys while waiting. I was a little tipsy by the time breakfast came. IT WAS AWESOME. Like getting Taco Bell at 2 am, only better.
I did find an excuse to make conversation with the lovely bartender. I asked her if saying “bloody” is like saying “fuck” and she said, kinda. That’s how they use it, but it’s not as offensive as “fuck” is for Americans. She assured me that I wasn’t swearing by ordering a Bloody Mary. But, in her estimation, Americans are kind of prude. Our TV has “nothing” on it, “no boobs or anything.” I fell in love with her right then.
Full from breakfast, we took to wandering. We came across a giant flea market under a bridge, and I bought a copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I packed a more “sophisticated” book for the trip, but after I picked up HP that’s all I wanted to read. I’m not going to lie, IT’S PRETTY MAGICAL READING HARRY POTTER IN LONDON.
We also took in some street performers near the London Eye. These acrobats from Ghana were my favorite. They were fun and had a good sense of humor. My favorite part was when one of them pulled a little girl into the act and kept trying to show her up, but she was a little gymnast! I didn’t get any pictures of her because I was too in the moment.
We visited Big Ben again. HEY, BEN!
We ended up at Westminster Abbey at about 2:30. I had remembered our guide Mark telling us that the Westminster is closed to tourists on Sundays, but the evensong service at 3:00 is well-worth the time. Matt and I aren’t religious people, but I can appreciate the finer things in life. The finer thing that day happened to be a church service in one of the most famous churches in the world. IN WE WENT.
It also happened to be Palm Sunday. The service was about the suffering of Christ teaching us about the suffering of every day life. I didn’t care for it. But the church was lovely and the ORGAN WAS AMAZING. Booming pipes–deep and ominous–rattled my insides. It was like being in Dracula’s castle. I could have listened all day. The choir was decent, but I’ve heard some pretty amazing choirs. Least we forget the talent of Concordia’s concert choir.
Our next stop was Kings Cross Station and Platform 9 3/4. King’s cross is a beautiful station, and very busy. (outside/inside)
Thankfully, they constructed a separate Platform 9 3/4 and Harry Potter shop off the beaten path, keeping the tourists out the hair of busy commuters and vice versa. We waited in line for about an hour, BUT I DIDN’T CARE BECAUSE I HAD MY HARRY POTTER BOOK. About half way through the line, I realized that the mom and little boy behind us were French and I was DYING TO TALK TO THEM. But I get shy about speaking French, especially since it’s gotten so rusty. But I had like 30 minutes to get up the courage and eventually I found my opening. Small blessing–she didn’t speak English that well so I HAD to use my French. We chit-chatted for a while, switching between English and French, her son enamored by a non-native tongue butchering his language. He was so excited about Harry Potter. He has THREE wands, you know. (FUN FACT: “Wand” in French is “Baguette” and I’m glad I remembered that because the conversation got weird for a second when her son started to ask me “How many baguettes…”)
Fortunately for us, Fuller’s–the brewery Deborah said was a “place of worship” was right next to the HP area, so we went in for a beer and a sit. THEN MORE TOURISTY THINGS:
We finished the night with another beer at the Brewdog brewery in our neighborhood. They didn’t have the sour on tap anymore, but they had this Hag’s Head sour in a bottle. #itme.
We chatted to this nice couple at the table next to us. The woman is a rep for some kind of company, and she had just come back from Kentucky. She didn’t understand our ways. Why don’t we have better public transportation? Why are our food portions so big? I dunno, lady. I dunno.
It was a long day of walking and exploring, and by the end I was absolutely gassed. Completely worth it though.