This pictures comes from Wikipedia, it’s not mine. I just thought it did a great job of showing Picadilly Circus. The British “Times Square.”
Living in this temporary apartment, Richard not working yet, and being in a new place make it feel like we are on vacation. But we aren’t- and even though we have a sufficient per diem to cover our meals we still have limited funds for sight seeing and exploring. The kids are mostly free on public transport but Richard and I aren’t, so wherever we go we pay. And even though there are many free places to visit, many are not free. So we’ve been trying to find a balance of taking advantage of this work-free, school-free time without burning through our savings. It is also exhausting being tourists so we have spent a fair amount of time just relaxing around our apartment and watching the World Cup. But after a day or two of sitting around I get antsy, so on Monday afternoon I said “Let’s go somewhere!” By the time we got out the door it was rush hour, and I didn’t check the forecast, so we didn’t bring jackets or umbrellas and that’s how our adventure began.
Piccadilly Circus isn’t a circus at all, in case you were wondering. A circus in this context is just referring to a circle, which is what is at the center of this really nonsensical intersection. Let me take this opportunity to say that the roads in London have no rhyme or reason. They are what they have been for a couple hundred years, or more. They don’t run north-south, east-west, they run hither and thither. It’s completely opposite the grid type system you’d find in Salt Lake. (Those Mormons are so organized!) London consists of many small villages that all just grew together, and since the English are reluctant to tear down buildings to make more organized “motorways”, they just make do. The idea of driving in London is terrifying to me for this reason, and because of that minor detail about driving on the other side of the road.
Piccadilly Circus is in west London. It is the heart of the theatre district so all over we saw signs for all the classic musicals and some new ones we’ve never heard of. I had no idea there were so many theatres, and each theatre only shows one play.
We got to Piccadilly Circus right at dinner time, so of course the kids were starving. I always imagine these little outings so much differently than they actually occur. I imagined we would meander past Piccadilly, through Chinatown and toward Covent Garden Market where there are some fun places to eat. All the while soaking in the experience, observing with wonder and awe the old buildings and charming little streets. It was less than a mile of walking and was only supposed to take 12 minutes. But right after I took these pictures it started to sprinkle. And instead of doing the responsible thing and coming up with a back-up plan, I ignored the rain and my husband’s promptings to find a closer restaurant and the hungry pleas of my children because I was TAKING IN THE SIGHTS BY GOLLY. Then it was an all-out downpour. And Mim needed to wee. And and and…
I’ll skip the next twenty minutes and suffice it to say there were some immature and stubborn adults and some wet children by the time we ducked into a Chinese restaurant called Kai in the heart of Chinatown.
Eros – the Greek God of love. Not to be mistaken with his Roman counterpart- Cupid.
“We are only smiling because our mum said we could not eat if we did not smile.” (But Simon makes his own rules.)
The food was delicious. Cameron wanted to try roasted duck, which turned out to be quite tasty. I have to give credit to the kids for their open mindedness and flexibility with all the different foods we’ve tried. They have been good sports. And Eli and Miriam were determined to master the chopsticks. Simon thought he was determined too, but he was making such a mess that we confiscated the chopsticks. Sorry buddy, maybe next time. Fortunately by the time we finished eating we were mostly dry and in much better spirits.
In an effort to ease my mother-guilt for dragging my children through the rain, we made a quick stop in a candy shop. But who am I kidding? The candy stop was all about me too.
The street performers were probably my favorite part of Covent Garden. There was a guy singing through/playing an orange traffic cone. There was also a magician/comedian and a Freddie Mercury impersonator that was probably rated PG-13, because well, Freddie Mercury. But this guy was our favorite. Flames came out of the bell of his instrument (have I really forgotten what instrument that is?! I’m ashamed of myself.) We watched him for several minutes and all the kids wanted to throw money in his hat. I’m grateful to whoever told me the informal rule that if the performer is good enough to make you stop, or if you take a picture, you ought to give them money. (Adri? Lori?)
Covent Garden Market was fun and quaint and definitely has some restaurants we’ll be coming back for. It’s a pretty tourist-y type place so it seemed as good as any to take this obligatory photo. You knew it was coming.