London Day 3: Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour

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By day three in London I was waving my white flag of failure. Jetlag had won and there wasn’t anything my wonder-woman-go-getter-self could do about it. I was so angry about it too. Jetlag took one look at me and laughed. I see you want to go visit eleven museums and take a tour of the underground railway system. Hah! I present you with two whiney children and raise you a domestic partner who feels nauseous every morning at breakfast. Have fun with that list of things you really wanted to do. Cheerio!

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Does anyone remember that comedy skit where the comedian says something like,  Don’t get married. Just go find someone you really like and take a trip with them. If you still like them at the end of two weeks then you can get married. You’ll save yourself thousands of dollars…or something like that… Heh. It’s pretty good advice. Take a trip with me twelve hours out of my time zone and my true self raises it’s ugly head of rage.

What? Little ol’ mouse-voiced Brenda?! Who knew!  Probably everyone but if Payam was thinking of marrying me someday he might not be thinking so much about that now. Just kidding. I kept  my anger under wraps for the most part but it is really true that if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

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By day three I pretty much had my will to explore drained completely out of me. I didn’t care anymore.  Wanna go sit on a bus for three hours? Sounds good to me. In fact, it was the perfect thing to do. I was so tired and the kids were so tired. All we wanted to do was sit on a bus and listen to a humorous tour guide rattle on about buildings and history.

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I couldn’t tell you what those humorous stories were now. Something about a wedding cake and a really great architect who was buried in a crypt without any flamboyance, just a little plaque that said the church itself was all the headstone he needed… or something like that.  It was all very very interesting! I loved every story! I wish I had a transcript of the tour guide’s spiel because it was great. Really great.

It was like bits and pieces of European History that I didn’t pay attention to in high school suddenly falling into a timeline that I could understand and laugh about because it was about real people! Except my brain was running on random access memory because of jet lag and I turned off my computer before it could save anything so now all those stories are gone. Kablooey! Out my ears and off into the nether, never to be remembered again.

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If you should find yourself in London, I strongly recommend this tour. But don’t go when you have jet lag or anger issues about your family having jet lag. Go after a day or two. Take a notepad and write down the places you want to learn more about and write down the streets and addresses because guess what, your wifi won’t do squat for you (even though you bought the $10 a day plan) and your mapping apps will mock you. It will be like 1992 all over again and you forgot to print out a map before you left your hotel.

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On the far end of our bus tour we decided to get off and take a river cruise back. It was nice. We had a late lunch on the water while another tour guide told us even more funny stories.

We had the forethought to stop into one of those EAT shops before we got on the boat and bought sandwiches and a hot dog for Bug from a nearby cart vendor. The sandwiches were so cheap and for the most-part eatable. A little dry but not un-delicious. Everything is expensive in London so finding an egg-salad sandwich for two pounds was something to get excited about. I kinda wish we had something like that here in the states. I love to picnic and if I could just pop into a little store and buy a sandwich for two bucks all packed in a cute paper sack I would totally do that! Plus, they have every kind of sandwich you can think of and chips (aka crisps) and a zillion other things too. It’s a family’s rainbow of tastes dream come true. And believe me, we are a challenge when it comes to finding a restaurant that has something for everyone.

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After the boat ride, Payam went back to the hotel to rest (again. He really wasn’t feeling well still.) and we went back to our old favorite stomping grounds around the River Thames and the London Eye. This was like our backyard by now but not unpleasant because there was always ice cream and street entertainment.

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That night we yelped a hamburger restaurant (and finally found it two hours later thanks to our lack of wifi and our ever moving marauders map) that I loved. Payam wasn’t as keen on it as I was (the flavor of the meat was just a little bit different) but it was so nice to find a quiet spot after bustling through throngs and throngs of London thirty-somethings.

London seems to be the supreme place to party if you are young and without kids.  If you have kids, it’s a fun game of “Hey, don’t look over there. Let’s look at something else. No, you don’t see a drunk guy vomiting in a dark corner. Let’s look away!” So that was fun. Payam and I would have had a blast partying the night away but not so much with kids.

We had a fun party back home in our apartment instead.

But don’t worry tomorrow’s post will be all about the kids and FUN, FUN, FUN!!! Harry Potter Land did not dissappoint.

A quick little addendum note: Please notice all the photos that Joon took while I was feeling un-photographer-esque. I’m so glad I packed my old camera and had the thought to let her use it. Because if I hadn’t, this post would not exist. Also up tomorrow: A stabbing in London! Don’t worry, it’s not what you think.

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The Great Broad Adventure

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We hit up the The Broad (rhymes with road) for my birthday this last Thursday. As everyone knows I’m a huge fan of making your birthday (or any day really) a great day by deciding exactly what you want to do and then doing it instead of waiting around for others to magically read your mind and help make your day wonderful for you. Because they don’t have a clue! That’s really how it is.

How many times have you walked into an Anthropology store (or whatever store is your favorite. Maybe it’s Cabellas or even Target…) and thought, I wish my friends and relatives would buy me presents from here because I like every single thing in this store!! but then wandered the displays for an hour and found yourself not able to pick one thing for a friend (who is probably just like you and likes every single thing in the store) because you just don’t know if that’s what they’d really like? I mean, what if they already have thirty-seven floral aprons and they don’t really want a grapefruit-lily scented candle? How well do you really know your friends?!! Of course there are some things that stand out and shout someone’s name and that is awesome but it doesn’t always happen.

So that’s my point: People don’t know that you would just like to have a quiet day at home reading books all day with your big ol’ mug of tea OR have a giant surprise party in Las Vegas with strippers jumping out of a cake wearing fishnet stockings. People have no idea! You have to tell them! Or better yet, plan it yourself and then invite them to come with. You’ll have the best time ever. I promise.

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So yeah, The Broad. That’s my idea of a good time. I’m a heavy instagram user (insert eye roll from my family) and I’ve been staring at photos of The Broad for ages wondering about this crazy museum and wishing I could go stand in a black room filled with rain, which turns out isn’t a room full of rain but actually an infinity mirrored room.  Sadly, we didn’t get tickets for that room so I didn’t get to see it but at least now I have an idea how the whole thing works and next time I will make sure I make a reservation!

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Not everyone shared my excitement over contemporary art but I think they enjoyed the adventure anyway and now their brains are expanded a little.

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I don’t think anyone really gets contemporary art. That’s the point, right? It’s not supposed to make sense. It’s supposed to make you stand there and puzzle. Like it says in  Steal Like an Artist  “Modern art = I could do that + yeah, but you didn’t.” (Which I stole from here because I haven’t even read “Steal Like an Artist” but I should!)

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There are so many ways to enjoy art. One is to read the little plaques about each artist and imagine how and why they created each piece. Another way is to walk around completely open-minded and just soak in your own feelings. Don’t even try to learn about the artist. Make it personal experience. And a third really super way to enjoy it is to watch how others interact. I think that might be my favorite thing: watching other people look at art.

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Which pieces make them smile? Which ones make them screw up their eyes in confusion…

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People are even more interesting than the art I think.

Some people stare and contemplate. Maybe they are on their lunch break and just soaking up some peace and quiet… Most people take pictures and selfies.   They bunch up their families against their favorite installations throwing in a peace sign here and there. Some people make funny poses and completely forget about their pride, only worrying about their followers on the other side of their phone.

Is it really that bad to be that person taking a million photos and posting them to Instagram (or on a blog like this one)? I could argue both sides and I do. Of course everyone is moaning that all anyone cares about is taking pictures these days and they don’t truly enjoy the moment anymore but is that true? I think I enjoy it more when I’m trying to capture something. I love the thrill of the hunt and taking pictures is FREE! the best kind of hunt of all!  I would have never even found The Broad if it wasn’t for so many instagrammers posting about it. So maybe I’m a lemming or maybe I’m onto something joyful.

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Payam and I argued over this piece for really long time. He was adamant that the artist used photoshop to create all these shelves at Amazon being so close together. I was sure it was just compression of a fancy camera lens. Turns out I was wrong!

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We all loved the giant table and chairs. Of course I had to go and pretend to be a cat rubbing up against a chair leg (because how could you not?!) and then I got scolded by a museum guard which made me feel terrible. It turns out the guards are not as mean as they seem to be. I got scolded again later for standing too close to a piece and when I apologized the guard engaged me in a really interesting conversation and told me not to feel bad. So there’s that! I totally get it and I want to protect this art too but it’s hard when it’s so interesting and screaming out to be interacted with.

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Like these lumps of grass in front of the building. It turns out they are fancy gardens tended by expert gardeners and sitting on them is NOT ALLOWED. Our bad.

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All in all it was a great adventure. Everyone had a different take. We bonded over our differences and it gave us tons to talk about which is what what I really wanted for my birthday. My love language is time after all. Time with my peeps.

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It was my day and I felt really special. Payam kept telling me that every little stroke of luck he planned especially for me on my birthday. He’s a comedian like that. We had just enough time to get coffee before we queued up for our reservation line, that was part of his plan. Then the fact that the line was just long enough for us to have enough time to sip our coffee (as it cooled) and finish it right before we had to throw away our empty cups (that were not allowed in the museum)—all part of a magically orchestrated plan! And then this piece that was for me, obviously.

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Happy sigh.