Old Cheese and River Festivals

Last weekend (September 9–11) was a relatively quiet one in London.  Here are a few highlights:

We Wanted to Be the Sky


After the usual doldrums of work I met J and his coworker at their office so we could all head to one of the oldest pubs in London together.  Rebuilt in 1666 (it had burned down earlier), Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese has been in London longer than America has been a nation.  Currently operated by Samuel Smith brewery (J likes this) the pub is near Chancery Lane tube stop on Fleet street.  The rooms are small and convoluted, but numerous–there is at least 3 stories and a basement. We grabbed a pint from one of their many bars and walked down into the basement, which was used in a scene in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities (he was a frequent customer).  We ordered our traditional British pub food (meat pies and fish n chips) and enjoyed the atmosphere.  After finishing our meals and moving back to the ground floor to explore more of the rooms (all decorated with strange but very pub like things–fishing pictures, portraits of unknown famous people and even the parrot, stuffed, that lived there from 1896-1920).  I ended up making friends with some English, Polish and Austrian people and we chatted the rest of the night away with them outside.

Drinking fresh coconut water for the first time


On Saturday J and I woke up and went off to explore the Mayor’s Thames River Festival.  After tubing to Westminster and walking across the bridge we strolled the riverbanks taking in the people, awesome food stalls, interesting exhibitions and little shops.  One of my favorite sights was a set up for one of those dance video games where they were trying to get the crowd to join in, the first time we walked by the only one dancing was a little old lady and she was there–loving it–the entire day. J and I both loved the food stalls–too many to choose–after splitting a coconut water (to stave off hunger) we split a box of Mexican food and some arancini balls (fried rice balls filled with cheese and goodies), but we coveted Polish sausages, Ghanaian food, indian spiced burgers and mountains of home-made fudge.

Southwark Cathedral, London's oldest gothic cathedral

Taking a detour from the main route we popped into Borough Market (a famous weekly market of food and goodness), passed by Shakespeare’s Globe and explored the inside of Southwark Cathedral.  It was beautiful, all of the gothic architecture I love from Notre Dame and Westminster Abbey (though different of course) but with the light of some more recent cathedrals.  It was pretty cool to walk around inside knowing how central it has been to England’s history. Many famous people have worshiped there and Shakespeare even lived there for a time.

We ended our walk by passing by the London Bridge (more boring than I thought it would be) and crossing over Tower (of London) Bridge (which looks like what I think London Bridge should).  It was pretty amazing all and all.  I can’t wait to explore more of that area and actually go inside the Globe and Tower of London.

Tower Bridge


Sunday was a quiet day of reading and football. It was the 10th anniversary of September 11th and I wrote a little bit about my reaction to that here.

Next weekend: Vienna, Austria!

Vienna City Hall