Friday, July 14, 2006

My trip to London, part two

Note: You should probably read part one first. Oh, and it's not like I was visiting London for the first time or anything (unlike my next-door neighbour); I did live there for ten years.

After our delicious lunch we headed down towards Leicester Square tube station. For all you Americans out there, Leicester is pronounced Lester, not Lie-sester or Lie-chester, or any other of those crazy variants you come up with!

Of course, we had to go via Old Compton Street. We love Old Compton Street. It's got a bunch of excellent shops, an amazing patisserie, and Ed's Diner at the end of it. It's the gay centre of London, which means it's also very smart, stylish, and pleasant to walk down. In addition, it's kind of like the Italian heart of Soho. We figured there might still be some evidence of celebration - y'know, what with Italy winning the World Cup and all. This is what we saw, just outside Bar Italia. Check out the Italian flags and the Forza Azzurri banner!

On we went...

This pic is of the crossroads where Charing Cross Road meets Shaftesbury Avenue, a few hundred yards from said tube station. It's probably one of the busiest bits of London, and no fun when you're trapped behind people who don't know where they're going. (Or, arguably, when you're stuck behind us taking pictures for our blogs...)

Going down Charing Cross Road I was intending to pop into Comic Showcase and pick up OMAC, as highlighted by The Wanted Man, but it had closed down. Gutted!

Anyway... I didn't buy the comic book, but we did get on the tube, heading to London Bridge, via Waterloo. Here we are at Waterloo station, waiting for the tube.

Once at London Bridge it took a surprisingly long walk to get to Vinopolis itself, but it's nice to have a leisurely wander through these parts. I'm not that familiar with this bit of London, but Wife knows it a bit, so she was my trusted guide. She done good and got us to Vinopolis safely. Once there, I exchanged my tickety voucher thing for two tickets proper. They counter girl also gave us a little map of where we were going and offered us a headset each. The tour, it seemed, would be self-guided. Fortunately the headsets were free; otherwise we probably wouldn't have taken them. This is because we had a terrible headset experience at the Pinacoteca di Brera, a major art gallery in Milan. But that may or may not be another story. We took 'em and off we went.

Those bloody headphone guides do a damn good job of taking the fun out of stuff. All the info was skewed. Stuff they said was there wasn't; stuff they said was to the left was to the right, and vice versa; and most of what was said was written up on the walls, so we could have just read it anyway.

But the point of the exercise is to sample (read "drink") wine. As part of the admission price, you get five tasting tokens, which you use to pay for whatever you fancy sampling from the three tasting tables scattered through the tour. You also get an extra tasting token for The Bombay Sapphire Experience, which apparently used to be an experience, with its own little room, but is now just a table where you can drink gin cocktails.

Wife isn't much of a drinker, so at table 1 she said I could probably drink most of her wine and stuff. "Oh, okay then. Y'know, I'll make that sacrifice..." We stopped at all the tables, obviously, and used up all our vouchers. I finished most of Wife's choices, except the Sherry from table 2, which she finished herself and enjoyed. I'm glad about that, cos I thought it was rank. But I've never really liked Sherry anyway, so that's fine.

And the gin cocktails (above)... I was feeling drunk adventurous, so I went for the one that had cranberry juice in it and something I'd never heard of: crème de mure (blackberry). It's the red one. It was a bit bitter. Wife's is the green one: it had kiwi fruit and apple. It was much sweeter - too sweet for my taste. She couldn't finish hers; I couldn't finish mine. Plus if I had finished even one of them, I think I'd have been quite ill.

Between the second and third tables was the Italy bit. It was funny because there were Vespas with little video screens in the windshield making it look as though you're riding through Tuscany. Here are the scooters. They all had one mile on the clock. What a waste of four good scooters, we thought.

Then at the last table we used almost the rest of our vouchers on Chilean and Chinese wines. I was interested in trying Chinese in particular, since I never have; and Chilean I like anyway. I had one left so I went back for a bit more from table 2.

And finally we had a shot of absinthe. There are two types on the market, apparently: absinthe and absinth. The one with an "e" on the end is the more original type and is still outlawed in France, the US, and some other places. It's very like Pernod, and nice.

Anyhoo, that all done and dusted we went and sat beside the Thames for a few mins then walked back to London Bridge station for the train home. I normally fall asleep on train rides home, but I successfully battled Morpheus to the last this time around. I was a bit tipsy, though. Still, didn't stop me finishing off the day with a nice beer at dinner.

All in all, it was a lovely day trip and a great excuse to spend some quality time together away from work and our computers. We have a busy time coming up, so it was good to take advantage of what may well be one of our last quiet days of the year.


Blogger a.c.t said...

I haven't been to Vineopolis yet, but I'll definitely have to get round to it soon. I love it round there, especially the pub nearby (forget the name) where you can sit by the Thames. Next time you're round those parts, you should pay a visit to Borough Market (just opposite London Bridge tube). It's a huge food market with the most amazing venison and ostrich burgers and delicious falafels if you fancy the veg option. They've also got stalls with Italian cheeses, focaccia etc.

14 July, 2006 09:04  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

It's good at Vinopolis, ACT, but avoid the headset! Yeah, we sat by that pub and took a few pix. Didn't go to Borough Market this time, but have been before, and it is wicked. We often say we should go up there once in a while. There's a pretty good greasy spoon nearby, too.

14 July, 2006 09:53  
Blogger the cappuccino kid said...

sounds like a good day out. i would avoid the lambretta shop like the plague! the guy that now owns the copyright of the name "LAMBRETTA" has spent the last few years trying to stop all of us scooter riders from using it. even to the extent that he has had police at events in the past confiscating....get this....LAMBRETTA CLUB OF ENGLAND T-SHIRTS.... cos he reckons that it is copyright infringement. what a tosser, lambretta as a name has been around since the forties!
fortunately for us, it was around the time arsenal tried to do a bloke for selling scarfs/t-shirts etc outside highbury, and failed due to the name being in the public domain for so long. this kind of works for the lambretta name too, not sure about all the legality stuff.
but out of principle there are still a lot of us who refuse to be drawn in. he carries on producing things with the name and world famous stylised lettering, and even the scooter itself on them, which i personally think is a bit rich.
so there you go. should have done a post myself, eh? sorry.
p.s. any one want to buy a black long sleeved lambretta shirt? bought by the wife, worn twice. xl.??

14 July, 2006 10:07  
Blogger the cappuccino kid said...

p.p.s. that should have been lambretta club of great britain.
sorry to all you lammy riders. (or should that be lammy pushers?)

14 July, 2006 10:08  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Cappy: Shit, that's bad about Lambretta. Didn't even realize we'd photographed that shop until I got home...

14 July, 2006 11:25  
Blogger the cappuccino kid said...

the really maddening thing is that should anyone want to start making the scooters again, EXACTLY as they were, they can no longer call em lambrettas.

????you tell me, cos i don't know!

14 July, 2006 18:23  
Blogger Brad said...

Here 3 things which I love in London:
These are always a treat, either in London or on country roads at times. It is even better to ride on bus than on a Limousine London. Perch myself on top deck in the front window seats if possible, just where the tree branches swoosh into the bus. What a view!
Love those old and i think disappearing sturdy heavy metal phone boxes that seem to be everywhere - even in rural areas with nothing else around.
I'm always exciting to see these old post boxes with the name of the monarch on them when the box was put into place or made - some still have Queen Victoria's name on them - others Edward the VI and, except Edward VII perhaps, all subsequent monarchs.

13 December, 2007 14:26  

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