London, England: Neighbourhoods Of Class And Culture

While Nick and Rebecca were at work, I decided to do another tour of the city. After picking up a coffee at a great little Middle Eastern cafe down the street from Rebecca’s apartment I jumped on the tube and went to the Barbican.

The Barbican is an estate in the northern part of the city which encompasses about 40 acres and contains everything from schools to residences to a massive performing arts centre. After WWII that part of London was completed destroyed and much the population had been killed or driven away. The city chose an architectural firm to design and build a replacement. It’s a pretty eerie neighbourhood, in my opinion. London is such a mix of old and new, traditional and modern, that to see such uniform planning — especially in the style of the late 60s and early 70s — was interesting and surreal.

I walked to the Performing Arts Centre and took a look at a small exhibit featuring artwork rendered from images in the film Waltz With Bashir. I passed through the large concrete courtyard and tried to find my way back to the main street.

After the Barbican I headed into town and went to Chinatown. London’s Chinatown is much smaller than I thought it would be, only about 2 blocks, but it consists almost entirely of restaurants. I picked a dumpling house where the fare is hand made. After an order of dumplings and some mint bubble tea, I went up to the theatre/arts district of Soho.

I passed a small street market that was just about closing, through a short alley of strip clubs and peep shows, and then to the Piccadilly/Leicester area near the British Portrait Gallery. The museum was featuring an Annie Lebowitz collection of portraits, which I desperately wanted to see, but I didn’t have much time before it closed.

I walked down to the Thames and took some pictures of the Millenium Wheel and Bridge.

Then I swung back to Covent Garden and checked out the Apple Market, one of the oldest public markets. I wandered around the grounds until I heard from Rebecca. She and I met up with Nick and his brother at a bar, then we walked through London’s West End and saw the famous Christmas light decorations. Nick, Rebecca and I had a couple beers at a true English pub, then called it a night.

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