All about my semester abroad at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, England.
Today, I met a friend for brunch at Fork, a delicious deli/bakery/etc. place on the way to SOAS that I’d never noticed before (it’s on a side street). It was delicious! If I were to open my own cafe, this is what I would want it to look like. For dreary London, it’s really bright inside and everything is baked fresh to eat. I believe that’s why there’s no menu online - I think the selections change daily. I ordered a sandwich with some strange kind of cured beef I’d never heard of (cut kind of like prosciutto, but darker) with goat cheese and rocket. It was so nice to have real bread for a change, not just sliced sandwich bread! I also had a gluten-free brownie, which was to die for. I don’t usually care for gluten-free (mostly because of my experience with Sharples gluten-free), but this meant that it was mostly chocolate, so of course I loved it! The setting was wonderful and I will definitely have to go again before I leave, at least for a cup of coffee and a slice of the Victoria sponge cake that I thought of trying today (chocolate was just too tempting!).
Tomorrow, I must find a place to spend the day because Dinwiddy is shutting off our water from 9 am to 5 pm…and I thought Swarthmore housing was a pain! They aren’t even getting port-o-potties for us to use. I’m wondering if this is even legal? I’m assuming it is because they told us in advance, but don’t they have to provide us with drinking water or some other alternative way to use a restroom (sorry, toilet)? Hmph! More details on my waterless day tomorrow…TTFN.
I’ve actually been out of the house for these past few days, and it’s nice to get some fresh air (although it does feel like March again with this icky weather). On Saturday, I met some friends at Trafalgar Square, where I was surprised to find this huge basketball tournament taking place, with multiple courts and tents and a huge television screen hanging from rafters in the middle of the square. There’s always something going on there! From there we walked to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a pub I have been meaning to go to for a while since it’s on the list of touristy things to do. It’s been around since the 1500s, but was most recently rebuilt in the mid-1600s (!). It’s the former watering hole of literary greats like Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, and Alfred Tennyson, among others. The building itself is like a cave, with a main level and upper levels hosting rooms for private use, and the basement having many different levels of dark, cavernous rooms. I didn’t order anything (it was only about 3pm), and I’m glad. Because it’s a tourist destination, the pub can obviously charge higher prices than it should, so it was very expensive! It was a cool place to hang out for a bit, though, knowing who has been there before!
From there we walked to Holborn, an area I had yet to explore. I thought it was mostly a business district, but I found that there’s a really nice section of restaurants. We ate at The Diner, a good American joint that had great burgers (I had one with pork barbecue on top!). After that, we walked around the city until the sky turned black and I left before I could get caught in the rain!
Yesterday, I went for a traditional Indian/Punjabi dinner in Whitehall, which is supposed to be a better area to go than Brick Lane (which is now overgrown with tourists and terrible restaurants). We went to Nedoo Grill, which was delicious and very reasonably priced. The mango lassis weren’t as good as at Delhi Grill, but the food was delicious. It’s generally a good sign that a restaurant like this is good if you’re the only white people there!
Today, I went to the Picasso exhibit at the Courtauld Gallery, which is only 3 pounds on Mondays. It’s a small collection, but the building itself is nice and the collection is well organized. I was surprised to see how much Picasso emulated certain artists so early in his career: the paintings in the first room looked like they belonged to Toulouse-Lautrec! The special exhibit was concentrated in two rooms, and there really wasn’t enough space in the first room to enjoy the paintings (not even room for a bench!). I guess that given the limitations of the building, this is the best they could do, but that was a little disappointing. Nonetheless, the paintings were beautiful (I will post photos of some of my favorites from the general collection later - photos from the Picasso exhibit were not allowed). I then took a long walk around the city - through Covent Garden, which I had never been to before, down to Oxford Street towards the American Embassy (which is ugly as ever) and then caught the bus back to Dinwiddy.
Tomorrow I am meeting a friend at Fork deli in Bloomsbury, which has 4.5 stars on Tripadvisor, Urbanspoon, and Yelp! I’m excited! TTFN!
Note to Boris: get some Boris Bins (aka recycling bins)!!!