Jazz Festival and Welcome to London Tours

Here’s another double weekend post for you all.  What can I say, I’ve gotten bad at being timely.  As we adjust to normal life here (read: some boring, lazy days) its hard for me to figure out how often to post. Anyway, on to the update:

A little bit of America in London

August 12-14

After a leisurely Friday evening, we awoke Saturday morning ready to go exploring. The plan was to go to the Museum of London and then to a Jazz Festival I had heard about on Londonist in hopes of cheap, but delicious food stall lunch. We were starved, so decided to go to the festival first and the museum afterwards the only problem was that we didn’t check the tube lines before we left and it took us much longer to get to Canary Wharf (where the festival was being held) then we expected.

Canary Wharf

So Canary Wharf.  I pictured docks and boats, mostly things that would remind me of the Jetty back home, but Canary Wharf is actually a financial district. As J put it, “like NYC but cleaner.” There was still a nice river and I still believe in my heart of hearts that there was a dirty fish-smelling marina somewhere around there, we just didn’t happen upon it. It was still a really nice and interesting area despite its clean, yuppie feel.  A lot of the buildings were really interesting to look at and we found a pretty cool park.  Of course, I was also wrong about the food stalls.

We finally came upon the Jazz Festival, using both our ears and the signs, in a small, well-groomed lawn between some buildings and cafes. There were a few modern sculptures on the grass as well as the stage, a huge screen and many picnickers. Even though we were hoping for a cheap lunch we were too hungry to care and found a seat at an outdoor cafe with a view of the screen and had a tapas-like lunch.

Lunch and Jazz

Our goal with this lunch was to sit and nurse our wine and nibble at our food for hours like Europeans do.  When we were leaving I felt we had done a pretty good job until J said we were there for about 2.5 hours.  That sounds great right? Well it is for Americans I guess, but there were two ladies at the table next to us who were done eating and drinking when we sat down and were still there when we left. I’m not sure I’ll ever get that hang of that.  We ended up going home after leaving the festival because it was too late for the museum–another day…

part of the Olympic Stadium under construction from DLR line

Sunday was also pretty low key, but had one great event: going to see the Harry Potter movie. Neither J or I are huge fans of the movie series, but it feels like something you have to do and it was something we could both agree on, so we went for a matinee (even though I think the price is the same here). Prices for movies here are extremely expensive like 15 GBP a person.  We probably won’t go to the theaters very often which makes me very sad since we are also without Netflix.  What is the movie lover to do?

Anyway, Harry Potter was a good movie overall.  J and I both thought some parts were a bit slow, dramatic and corny–very similar to the final Lord of the Rings movie in style.

Hyde Park and the Serpentine

August 19-21

We had another quiet Friday this past weekend (that seems to be a routine now).  I was feeling really homesick and bleh, so we stayed in.

Saturday we woke up relatively early because one of J’s coworkers just got into the city. Like us, he moved to London for work and will be here for the next 2 years or so. I knew how hard it was for us our first few days, so I wanted to make sure that he’d feel comfortable since he was coming alone. We met him at the Churchill Arms, which was one of our first dining experiences here, but I forgot my camera today so still no cool pictures of the crazy flowered pub–google it.

Admiral's Arch-J and coworker debated roman numerals in front of this for 5 minutes

After a delicious thai lunch we had plans to go to a relatively affordable department store on Oxford St. for things like towels and sheets.  We decided to walk there through Hyde Park so he could get more of a feel of his new area. Unfortunately it started to pour as soon as we go too far from the tube and were forced to just keep walking.  Luckily J and I had two umbrellas so we were all mostly covered, but still pretty wet (soaked through shoes) by the time we got to John Lewis (it was further down Oxford St. then we remembered). After picking up a few things we split up for the evening so the coworker could sleep and we could do laundry (new, softer sheets!).

Westminster Abbey

On Sunday, after silly things like laundry and grocery shopping, J got a text from his coworker asking to hang out so we met him at the Princess Diana memorial fountain in Hyde Park, which I believe I’ve talked about before. From there we walked down the Serpentine to Hyde Park corner and followed much of the same route J and I did on our first touristy walk: Buckingham Palace, St. James’ Park, Trafalgar Square, Parliament and Westminster Abbey.  We did it all much more leisurely though and it was a nice time.

After our touristing and with yelping feet, we began to walk towards Soho to find dinner.  Unfortunately we wanted to take coworker to some place nice or cool and it was also Sunday night, which means over 50% of all places are closed. After wandering to what felt like (and probably was) an hour with the boys stopping periodically to yelp certain places, we ate at O’Neil’s Irish Pub on Oxford Street.  It was actually a good time and you could tell they were serious about their Irish cooking. We split up after dinner at the tube again (coworker lives south of us) and J and I became engaged in the latest battle with our dryer.

Sneak peek–Next week I’ll have a lot more to say because we’re going here for J’s birthday: