London Day 1: Sightseeing and Sunshine
We successfully began our first morning in London by completely sleeping through it, awaking after noon. To shed our remaining layer of sleepiness, we stepped out into the warm, British sunshine, picked a direction, and set off on our first international run. Since I've only run once in the past 5 months I can't say it was terribly pleasant, but getting to finally stretch our legs while simultaneously exploring our neighborhood was enjoyable.
Once again, we had no plans for the day other than to simply enjoy it, so with cameras in hand we hopped on the Tube in search of food, slowly photographing our way to a cafe near the Thames. Aside from seeing the world, the main point of these trips for me is to refine my creative eye by way of exploring new techniques; different times of day other than the "perfect" golden hour, angles I don't often shoot from, new poses. I've done this this last year through my film street photography, but this trip (and my last one to NYC) is allowing me to work on my portrait photography as well. It definitely helps to have a fantastic model! As we stopped once again in the middle of a sidewalk to photograph, Erin remarked that she's been my model for so long that she's not even self conscious photographing around people in the middle of the street anymore. For me, that's the highest compliment.
Soon enough though, our hunger completely overtook us and we forewent our budding modeling careers in favor of a hearty meal. We're thankful to live in the age of smartphones and internet because all we had to do was type "cafe" into the GPS and turn two corners to get there. These old souls started off the meal with a pot of tea apiece - peach elderberry mint - while reading our respective novels. Once we'd sated our literary thirst, we each ordered a bowl of soup, the daily special meat option of beetroot borsch. I'll admit, I was rather hesitant when the bright magenta soup arrived, but the warm savory broth was the perfect filling meal.
I could've stayed for another full pot of tea, arguably the tastiest I've ever had, but we opted instead to return to our explorations. In need of some nature, we set off for Battersea Park along the river, spending a few hours meandering through the gaggles of people en route to nowhere. Erin's a photographer herself, so we shared my camera, taking turns documenting what we found interesting. It was interesting looking back through the photos last night seeing each of our distinct styles, seeing a stark comparison of how to people taking the same journey can see things so differently.
After a while, we thought it might be time for a change of scene, so I looked up the closest iconic sight and we hopped on the (wrong) bus towards Trafalgar Square. We didn't quite make it there as even the correct bus terminated service early leaving us a few stops short, but serendipity was working in our favor to make sure we remembered to see Westminster Abbey. I'm not sure I could correctly spell out the sounds of awe we let out in seeing the intricately designed artifice, but it went something like "AHHHHHHGFKDJGDSJRGJ!"
We were treated to a gorgeous golden sunset, each warm ray adding a glow to everything it caressed. Naturally, we had another mini photoshoot as we watched the sky turn a soft pink, taking advantage of the radiant light.
We ended our first day here with a fantastic traditional meal of fish and chips, potato skins and pints of Guinness at the St Stephen's Tavern, eating slowly and talking for hours. Start to finish, the whole day was a calming balance of exploring while having no expectations of needing to do anything, therefore it was thoroughly enjoyable.