Wow, London is hopping. As I walked along the South Bank of the Thames on a sunny but not too hot June week day, I was amazed at how many tourists there were, throngs of strollers, large groups,of school kids in matching uniforms, lots of people speaking German or “American,” buskers and street people, cafes and pubs packed with seemingly carefree people like me (if only).
In the four years since I was here last, there are even more cool high design bridges across the Thames, beyond the now sturdy once-wobbly bridge and more to possibly come, according to a story in the Evening Standard, I think, about a newly designed bridge inspired by The High Line in NY that would be heavily landscaped (how cool is that?) The Tate Modern is under construction and It appears, expansion so the enormous turbine hall was cordoned off. Interesting modern high rises have popped up all around it. So much so that I can hardly find once prominent
Landmarks like Southwark Cathedral. I did find the Borough Market which was near London bridge, not Blackfrairs as I remembered and I had some Indian street food.
Walking about 15 minutes to Covent Garden, I found even a denser concentration of tourists clogging the streets, watching the street performers, eating at the restaurants, crowding into the shops. My favorite scene was a group of about eight women in black full length robes, their faces almost completely veiled, eating macaroons at an outlet of Laduree, the famous Paris bakery that I fear is turning into a chain. (There is also one on Madison Avenue in NYC). in Neal’s Yard I was glad to see that the famous cheese shop of the same name is alive and well. the small place was packed with gorgeous cheeses and customers. Alas the hippie dippie bakery in the yard is long gone.
In Soho, on Greek Street, I found one of my favorite French cafes, Maison Bertaux which was larger and more elegant than when i visited last but just as as charming and with really delicious pastries and excellent cappuchino. I had a tart of fresh raspberries and clotted cream piled high.,The only glitch was paying. i asked and was told in advance that I could use a credit card but lo and behold the credit card machine wasn’t working. shades of Peru where there were allegedly broken credit card machines all over. I then had to pay with a twenty pound note I had saved from my last trip but the proprietor was not happy. Apparently the bill was “out of circulation” I.e. old. Who knew? But he finally took it, with a pained expression.
I met an old friend at her publishing office on The Strand and we tried to go to another old favoritE, Gordon’s Wine Bar but it too was packed so we ended up a nearby pizzeria apparently owned by Gordon’s that was quite good called Fratelli la Bufala, although not one but two appetizers we ordered included huge portions of, you guessed it, Buffalo mozzarella. Interestingly, the only meat served was buffalo. On the train back to Mortlake in southwest London, I bumped into my friend F. who am staying with, which was lucky. she was going to meet our other friend U. for dinner so we all ended up at a Swedish restaurant called Stockholm where they ate herring and reindeer burgers and I drank water. Ahhh London!