Natasha mentioned an update from me in her post yesterday, and I am finally getting around to writing it, late the next day. So, after a second action-packed day in London (which I'll get to in another post), I'll jump back and say a bit about our first day here.
We started the day off by taking the Tube downtown to see about getting tickets for Shakespeare and Spamalot. We felt pretty confident about the underground part of the trip, having gotten from the airport to Dora's place the day before, but I was feeling a bit less sure about navigating London's streets. As we were getting off the subway, I commented to Natasha that it would really be nice if they had brightly-coloured lines above ground as well as below. Lo and behold, as we left the station we saw a sign saying that we could follow a trail of orange lampposts to get to the Tate Museum, and that signs would direct us from there to the Globe theatre. And so we went, following the "orange lamppost road" to our destination.
On our way to the theatre (don't worry -- the whole post isn't going to be this detailed) we stopped in at a tiny "greasy spoon"-type restaurant (called "Pickles", for some reason) for breakfast, where Natasha got some tea, and I had a sausage and fried egg sandwich, which was very greasy, unhealthy, and above all British. The restaurant was a weird mix of cultures, with accents that reminded me of Eliza from "My Fair Lady" (before her lessons, that is) clashing with Frank Sinatra posters on every wall.
Most of the afternoon was spent, as Natasha mentioned, with a tour through London on an open air, double-decker bus. This was a bit of an adventure, as the weather kept changing from rainy to windy to sunny and then back again, resulting in a constant flurry of umbrellas, coats and emergency ponchos (which we had, thanks to Tim and Janice). Add to this an obstinate desire on my part to get a picture of every passing landmark, a bunch of screaming kids, and a very enthusiastic tour guide, and the whole experience was pretty intense.
We wrapped up the "seeing all the landmarks in London" part of the day by taking a tour boat down the Thames, from the Tower of London to the Tate Museum. This was a fair bit more sedate, as the boat went much slower, and the tour guide was significantly less enthusiastic.
We finished our day with the National Gallery, which is right off of Trafalgar Square, houses an incredible collection of artwork, and -- best of all -- is free! There are about 60 rooms in the gallery, with everything from Michaelangelo and Raphael to more modern artists like Picasso, Degas, or Monet (and Manet, for that matter). We only ended up having time for about two-thirds of the gallery, and ended up going back to see (some of) the rest of it today (that is, Tuesday).