London

April 2011: Spring Break

Ellen, Elena and I head for London during our spring break. Hearing English spoken is astounding after months of only Italian shatter. We check into our hotel, gleefully taking advantage of the executive afternoon “tea” provided by Elena’s businessman father. There are small sandwiches and salmon, fruits and tartlets, and an endless supply of liquor.

The city is vibrant, alive, and modern compared to ancient Florence. The people are diverse, their accents thick, and the feel is decidedly urban. We take full advantage of our week there, visiting the zoo, the museums, and the clubs. The only drawback is the food, which can not begin to compare to the Italian deliciousness we’ve been spoiled by. But I fall in love with London with no hesitation, and when we board the train for a weekend in Paris I vow to see the city again.

Our first adventure is to the London Tower. It’s smaller than I expected, but appropriately creepy. The day is dark and gloomy, and soon rain begins to fall. We tour the castle, absorbing the dark history.

London Tower on a gloomy day, notice the steel monkeys perched on the gate

London Tower on a gloomy day, notice the steel monkeys perched on the gate

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My favorite escapade in London was to the zoo. My friends and I spend a long afternoon watching the animals frolic. It takes me back to childhood, and it’s quite astonishing to escape the overwhelming urban environment and suddenly be surrounded by monkeys and lions.

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On my favorite night out Ellen and I leave the hotel round midnight with no plan but to have fun. We’re staying in a middle eastern neighborhood and soon come upon a hookah store. We puff away for a bit and then take a double-decker bus to the ice bar, which is basically a giant igloo. We only stay for an hour (its fucking cold), before venturing out into the empty streets. Hungry again we find an Indian restaurant and order a bottle of wine. The food is delicious and Elle and I spend a few hours lingering. We get back to the hotel around 3 AM, and spying a pizza box in the hallway steal it and chow down. This awakens Elena, who makes us put it back.

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