Friday, September 5, 2008

A Milestone

We celebrated our 1st Londoniversary last month -- it's amazing that it was just a year ago that we took the huge step of moving to London. In some senses, it seems like that was only recently, but mostly it feels like a very long time ago. We no longer get confused by the traffic direction, the fact that it can be rainy and grey nearly every day is not a source of constant surprise, and when people ask how you're doing by saying "Are you alright?" with a look of utmost concern, I no longer check myself for wounds.

A typical English Summer day

We decided to celebrate our Londoniversary with dinner and a show (where do we come up with such original ideas?), so I picked up tickets to see the new live production of The 39 Steps playing at the Criterion Theatre. The Criterion sits right on Piccadilly Circus (one of London's innermost circuses of hell), and unlike most theatres, you enter at the ground level and descend into the theatre. I suppose there isn't any reason to have theatres above ground, because you don't need windows; however one unfortunate consequence of burying The Criterion in Piccadilly Circus is that the whole theatre shakes every 3 minutes as an Underground train roars by.

I got busted by an usher for taking this picture of The Criterion. I wish I had captured some of the nice architecture instead of a stranger's scalp.

The heart of the West End is a place we generally try to avoid because of the insane crowds and the difficulty of finding anywhere to eat other than one of the 500 Aberdeen Steakhouses or Garfunkels within a 10 block radius (at least we now know what happened to Garfunkel after the breakup - he became a successful London restaurateur). It is worth going for the theatre of course, and there are a few great book stores and other shops, but I can never figure out why there are thousands of people milling around Piccadilly Circus taking pictures of advertising when there are so many interesting things to do in London.

A spread of goodies at Dehesa

We had dinner at the trendy tapas restaurant Dehesa in Soho, and had a very nice but a bit overly meat/cheese-heavy dinner. We tried to counter this by ordering the one salad on the menu, but this came in a teacup sized bowl and drenched in truffle oil, which kind of defeated the point. Still, a nice glass of sherry went a long way in cutting the heaviness of the meal, and the meats and cheeses were so delicious that I can easily overlook other faults.

5 compelling reasons to visit the West End

To my mind, the other reason to visit the West End is for sodas. Yes, here I go again with the soda thing. On a recent weekend day we went to CyberCandy in Covent Garden (heaven for candy lovers, great news for dentists) and Golden Gate Grocers in Chinatown; between these we got 4 root beers (IBC not pictured, but tasty), a cream soda made by Schweppes (only normally available in Asia for some reason), and that unique purple elixir Welch's Grape Soda. It has been a year of searching for root beer (and other good sodas) in the UK, and I'm happy to say that we've been successful in this quest and found quite a few other things along the way.

1 comment:

American in London said...

Happy Londoniversary!

Our friends went to see 39 Steps on Friday, too. How funny.

By the way, next time you're craving tapas in Soho, Barrafina will leave you smiling.