*editor's note: This was written last night but didn't get posted because of internet issues. So this was Thursday*
* editor's note again: pictures now added!*
And today we went to the Globe theatre.
The day began with a Bankside walk. We felt lazy this morning -- up too late last night, liking the merlot/shyraz a little too much. So we dawdled around, ate a late breakfast, then headed out on the underground to The City (0fficial financial district of London -- only place in England in which the Queen is #1 and the Mayor is #2 instead of Charles being #2). We crossed the Thames (that's pronounced "Tims" for all you Americans) on London Bridge and started wandering around Southwark (that's "SUTH-uck").
Standing on London Bridge and gazing out over the Thames gave us a view of the other bridges that span it -- Tower Bridge and the Jubilee Bridge. We could see the Tower of London and St. Paul's Church and teh Tate Modern and we just stood there for a few minutes, forcing the toursits and business professionals to flow around us, while I marveled about the fact that we are actually in London.
Romeo and Juliet was the most obvious -- and the seven stages of man from the famous "All the World's a Stage" speech. Quite apropos, as we saw As You Like It at the Globe tonight!
After we left the cathedral, we wandered in the Borough Market which was sort of a surprise and totally great. It was bustling and busy and colorful and noisy and smelly and once we got past the seafood booth, the smells were so delicious that even though we'd eaten breakfast late I was instantly hungry. We gawked at the vast spreads of vegetables and fruits and meats and sweets and wines and breads.
We scoped out the Globe theatre but didn't stick around as we were returning later for the show. We popped into the Tate Modern, which is essentially next door the Globe. It is vast and imposing and full of people. We were dutifully impressed but also overwhelmed and running later than we'd planned so we couldn't stay long. It is the sort of museum where you could spend an entire weekend so we really didn't do it justice. Next time.
From the Tate Modern, we crossed back over the Thames on the Jubilee Bridge (all muggles made it safely across this time). Some brilliant engineer thought it would be a great idea to essentially connect St. Paul's Cathedral to the Tate Modern via this bridge and it really is lovely. It never ceases to amaze me as we walk around that buildings from the thirteenth and fourteenth century (or their foundations, or replicas of them, like the globe) stand next to nineteenth-century buildings, which stand next to modern skyscrapers.
Less inspiring was the gargantuan line of tourists and the hour-long climb to the top of the cathedral dome. Deciding that London is lessa bout the skyline and more about the view from the grount, we skipped the climb and headed back to our hotel to change for dinner and the Globe.
I was craving pizza so we went to a cute little Italian place around the corner from our hotel and the pizzas were just like we had in Italy last summer. We took the underground to a stop near the Globe and I was so glad that the weather was cooperating. It was clear and beautiful.
We got to the Globe an hour ahead of time because I bought us "groundling" tickets -- meaning they only cost 5 pounds each but we had to stand for the entire show. Just like the peasants of 1660! David was not super enthused about this idea, and after doing so much walking all day long, I was beginning to have second thoughts myself.
But we were early enough that we got a great spot leaning right up against the stage. And I have to say that it was the awesomest Shakespeare-viewing experience that I have ever had. I've never gone to a Shakespeare play that seemed so short -- and we were standing up for almost 3 hours! I would have never thought it was possible, but it was so fantastically entertianing that I never thought about being tired or uncomfortable. The stage was exactly the right height for us to fold our arms and rest them on top of it and we were literally an arm's length from the actors (in fact, the Duke's cloak brushed my face when he whirled around at one point).
From the moment the show began, both of us -- and really everyone in the theatre -- was just sort of entranced. It was incredible to see Shakespeare performed so well and to imagine standing in nearly the same spot in 1660 -- under the same sky, in a nearly identical open-roof theatre, escaping the realities of life (plague, death, sewer-ridden streets) by getting caught up in the comedy. And it was seriously funny.
When the melancholy wit, Jacques, went into his speech, "All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players," it was another magical "London moment" that was not even dulled by the crowds because it felt appropriate to be smushed in with a bunch of other people who were just as excited about the play as I was. It is hard to explain without sounding cheesy but it was so electric and funny and exciting.
We walked back over the bridge, looking at the London skyline all lit up at night, and listened to a street musician serenade us with his guitar (well, not just us -- there were scads of people on the bridge just as there are everywhere).
Now we're back in the room eating chocolates and the connection is slow so no photos at the moment. Will try to post some tomorrow.