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“The earth has music for those who listen” – William Shakespeare

Posted on: 13th March 2017 | Category: Music, theater and art, Trips and excursions

A Weekend in London - By Jenny Maccise Devlyn

As we set foot in London, after two lines of the Underground, we got to our Hotel in Shoreditch, an eclectic and trendy neighborhood, surrounded by graffiti walls and independent shops. Our Citizen M hotel was cozy, with an easy-going urban vibe – the lobby was an open space with a funky bar, colorful chill out areas and contemporary bookcases crammed with colourful coffee table books.

With barely having time to change we jumped on the tube to London Bridge and then strolled along the river Thames towards Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, where we were going to see the play As You Like It, which was to be performed by an all-male cast. Dusk was falling as we walked and the lights started to illuminate different shops and terraces. Entering the Globe, we quickly headed to the front of the stage so we could enjoy the full experience of watching the play standing up, just as those who couldn’t have afforded seats would have done in Shakespearean times. At first I was a little hesitant at the thought of standing outside (the need for natural light in a theatre which would once have had no electricity means that the Globe has no roof!) for two and a half hours on an English February evening. Yet from the moment the actors erupted onto the stage, we were so captivated by the talent and dynamism of the actors, and the fun and humour of the play, that I barely felt the cold or tiredness in my legs. We had dinner at the famous Swan restaurant next door, sampling fish and chips for the first time ever – and, to our surprise, all of the actors were there as well; Rosalind and Orlando chatting over pints of beer, rung in by an old-fashioned bell as they came through the adjoining doors from the Globe.

The next day, after a tour of the Globe, we walked again along the South Bank of the Thames, a river where the water emanates history. We wandered towards Big Ben, the street flooded with tourists, all as eager as us to make the best of that Saturday morning. I caught a glimpse of several street performers, and heard music coming from under bridges or right there on the street – music acting like a touch on the shoulder; a reminder to stop and stand and stare and absorb the surroundings. Immersed in this captivating melody I caught sight of Big Ben, superimposed against the grey sky, its golden details shining with the little sun that was beginning to escape from the clouds.

Turning to my left, there it was, the London Eye. The giant looking over the city, like its witness and protector, the bright white and modern lines of its structure contrasting with Big Ben’s gothic architecture and sand-coloured stone – two magnificent icons of the city from such different epochs. After shopping in Oxford Street, we took the underground to Covent Garden, where an emblematic market building has stood there for one hundred and eighty years. Meandering the piazza was a perfect way to spend our Saturday – a crowd gathered for a spectacle put on by a street magician; people on a pub terrace enjoyed the sun while they drank beer; families in Laduree sipped coffee complemented with macarons; and, finally, us – soaking up the scenes while we indulged in a Godiva chocolate soft serve ice cream.

On Saturday night, we headed to the Lyceum theatre where we saw “The Lion King” and sang along (quietly!) to well-known songs from our childhood, while marveling at the elaborate wardrobes and dazzling sets.

After breakfast on Sunday, and a wander round Shoreditch, including breakfast at its famous Cereal Killer cafe, it was time to go. As the train transported us from the busy heart of London out past its quieter suburbs to Gatwick airport, I felt that even thought we had just been there for a weekend, we had managed to experience the real essence of London and absorb so much of what it had to offer – and yet, there is still so much there to discover.

“All the world’s a stage” and London is one I’d return to again and again.

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