Our second day in London was also our second wedding anniversary.
It was also the very first anniversary that Dan and I have ever celebrated, ever. Last year, our first wedding anniversary, I was in Canada and he was in Switzerland and though I was shortly due to arrive in Switzerland, we more celebrated the fact that we finally got to see each other again after seven months apart than our actual anniversary.
When we were dating, boyfriend/girlfriend, going steady, he'd given me his high school pin--whatever you want to call it--we never celebrated any sort of anniversary because there was no official 'date' and we were too lazy to pick one. Though occasionally we'd high five each other and be all, "Dude, we've been together for 'x' years. Go buy me a present."
We're very romantical, as you can tell.
So it was a bit weird to wake-up and finally be able to acknowledge the calendar date to be a Very Important Day.
"So, happy anniversary."
"Yeah, happy anniversary. Weird."
"I want poached eggs and baked beans and bacon and toast for breakfast."
"I just want eggs and toast. Maybe some orange juice."
"We're hitting up the Churchill bunker this morning, right?"
"For sure. Sushi for dinner?"
And that's how we started our first ever official anniversary day together.
The day itself was splendid, and it began at the aforementioned Churchill War Rooms. For people who know Dan in the flesh, you will know that he is very much a history buff. For anyone else, I'll let this picture do the talking.
I too was interested in this museum because whereas Dan is interested in the politics behind wars, I'm interested in how people lived through wars. Churchill's Cabinet War Rooms are preserved sites with artifacts still in place, and there's an audioguide included in the price of your entrance that details exactly what purpose all the rooms served, and what daily life was like down there for Churchill and the men and women working at his side to win the war.
I highly, highly, recommend visiting this site. There are video interviews with the men and women who worked with Churchill, you can see the map rooms where plots were plotted, the little kitchen where meals were prepared, sleeping quarters of all the men and women working with Churchill, and the room that all staffers thought was a private bathroom reserved only for the British Bulldog but was really a secret telephone room where Churchill spoke to Roosevelt.
Also, the gift shop isn't bad.
We spent quite a bit of time in there, and then emerged into the light to sit in St. James' Park for a bit. But then I got scared by the wildlife so we had to leave. That little story to come. We then meandered up to Trafalgar Square, except our route was rudely interrupted by a marathon that was going on. At first I thought it was cool to watch all the runners, but once it became apparent that there were thousands of runners, and we couldn't find anywhere to cross to get to Trafalgar Square, I was a bit annoyed.
So were hundreds of other people who were crushed between the barricades with us.
After waiting forty minutes for a chance to cross, the crowd got a bit testy, so we hopped the barricade, ran across the road, hopped the other barricade, and made sure to quickly disappear into the Trafalgar crowd. Yeah, we broke the rules. We decided to live dangerously since we weren't in Switzerland. When we felt that we were in the clear, and there wasn't a Bobby hot on our trail, we found an Italian deli and got some picnic fare to munch on while we sat on the steps of the National Gallery and people watched for an hour.
Give me a dark pair of shades, a delicious sandwich, and a good seat and I can happily people watch for hours. People are just like zoo animals. Honestly, the craziest stuff happens when you just sit still and watch. And I like to think that where else but Trafalgar Square could a guy with a microphone start off the hour by talking to himself while juggling, and end it with a crowd of cheering onlookers circling him while he struggled to get out of a straitjacket. So great.
After our picnic we found a tube station and sprinted over to King's Cross Station where I got my picture taken at platform 9 and 3/4. It wasn't super authentic because the "real" platform 9 and 3/4 was being renovated so they had to move the display to the front of the station, but still. It was freaking awesome.
I'm a bit awkward in this photo because there were dozens of other
Potter enthusiasts waiting for me to make even the slightest move away from the trolley so they could rush in and get their shot.
It's very intimidating.
I know, because I did this to some poor guy.
Then it started raining and my camera battery was at half a bar, and I panicked a bit because I didn't want to miss photographing any sites. So Dan suggested we check out the shops on Oxford Street to stay dry and not miss any photo opportunities. KEY TO MY HEART. That was a nutty street, to say the least. The stores were enormous and absolutely packed with people and I have never felt panicked in a crowd before, but holy Cheesus when we went into a store called Primark I thought I was going to loose my mind. The line-up for the change room was sixty people deep and the floor we were on was only for beachwear, pajamas, and undies. We left, immediately. Then I found a Top Shop and almost lost my mind again. I just couldn't believe how massive these stores were, how display tables were just heaped with clothing and accessories, and how many people were shopping in there.
It was cool to see, but I think I'll take my little Bern shops any day of the week.
For dinner we hit up a sushi franchise called Yo Sushi, and it was delicious. Basically everyone in the restaurant sits around a circular conveyor belt that carries around different dishes and you just pick off whatever you want to eat. The chefs are in the centre of the belt, and you can flag them down and request special dishes that aren't getting to you, or haven't appeared on the belt yet, and everything is stamped with an 'eat before' time so you don't have to worry about eating anything gnarly. At the end of the meal you pay based on the number of plates stacked beside you.
It's a dangerous way to eat though, because one minute you're daintily picking away at your crispy salmon skin roll, and the next you find yourself flagging down the chef requesting the spicy squid stir-fry while trying to inhale miso soup and tuna nigiri at the same time. Basically, having that many sushi choices turned me into Augustus Gloop who tried to drink Wonka's chocolate river.
It wasn't pretty.
Good thing Dan and I are already married.
After dinner we looked at each other and decided that yep, we had to do one special thing to mark our very first anniversary ever, so we hoped that tourist luck would be on our side and we could get some last minute tickets to that evening's performance of the West End play, Wicked.
Luck was on our side, and that play was totally, unquestionably, without a doubt....wicked.
The stage and back drop.
The dragon's eyes glow, the wings flap, and it breathes fire!
Okay fine, it's not fire so much as it is theatrical smoke.
But still...the dragon BREATHES THEATRICAL SMOKE.
I have never seen a musical before, and though I wanted to catch something that was happening at the Globe Theatre I know that it would be torture for Dan to have to sit through that sort of dialogue. But a musical, he was willing to give it a shot, and I'm so glad we went to see that one. At the end of the play, as we walked back to our B&B late that night Dan kept exclaiming in amazement, "I can't believe I liked that. It was really good. Man, those people are talented. Yeah, I really liked that."
"Me too! I wish I could sing."
"Don't start singing."
"I could serenade you."
"We'll get arrested by the noise police."
"Oh come on! Just imagine me up there, preforming for the crowds--"
"What crowd! Hahaha. Ah, but it was a really good day sweets. Breakfast was a real highlight."
See what I mean?
See what I mean?