May 22nd, 2014 by Cherié
A burst of cool, crisp air rushes from the tunnel as a train plows through, it is a nice change from the musky, hot air in the tube station. As you’re pushed, shoved and rushed onto the train, like a school of sardines in a tin can. I don’t mind though… I feel complete with each return to London; it’s as if I am returning home after a long hiatus in America. Even though I was raised in the balmy, warm climates of California, the wet, cloudy weather of London draws me back time and time again.
With the rapid beeping of the tube line, I hurry on with a wide-eyed enthusiasm; trace my fingers along the tube line map to ensure that I am heading in the right direction. My first stop is my favorite, laced with so much personal history of my own – Trafalgar square.
A large grey obelisk rests in the center, with four large black lion statues perched in each direction on the ground with the obelisk in the middle. In the background, your eyes are drawn to the stony pillars of the National Gallery Museum. Perched upon a hill, so majestically holding the worlds treasures, with the likes of Van Gogh, Cézanne, and Raphael. A familiar sight, and yet it’s bittersweet several years ago, this was the meeting place for my (then) British boyfriend on my first visit to London. Nostalgia seeps in, as I walk around the square, with each memory attached to each spot- I distinctly remember each word, each joke uttered. Yet, with the second return I met up with some new Canadian friends who had just moved to London from a travel blogging event the night before. Anne, Roma, Angie, Sam, and Lenny invited me to meet them at the National Gallery to check out the new National Portraits Gallery. Which boasted photos of Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and strange contemporary art; a molded form of the head of the artist with blood infused in it in a glass case. Chills came up my spine as I went from beautiful portrait of modern actors, such as Hugh Grant to Princess Diana then to a bloody bust of a statue perched in a clear case filled with gelatinous preservatives.
After filling our minds with contemporary art, we walked down the cobblestone streets as the sun went down with a pinkish, orange haze across the sky. Setting the scene for Big Ben far off in the distance, it looked as if it was the backdrop for Peter Pan. I half expected to see Peter and Tinkerbelle whizzing by, whisking us all away to Never-land.
The group walked to a local traditional British pub; a black building with a gold letters strewn across the top that spelled out “Marquis” with pink, orange, purple flowers spilling out of flower pots hanging underneath the words. Inside was a stuffy, but comfortable environment with “bookshelf” print wallpaper adorned on the wall in the upstairs restaurant with dim lighting to add to the atmosphere. The fresh, light Strawberry-Lime Rekorderlig cider resembled strawberry soda infused with alcohol. The Strawberry-Lime cider paired well with the French onion soup which had toasted cheese spilling over the side of the bowl, and soggy bread resting beneath a thick layer of cheese. The soup’s dark brothy flavors of Turkish Bay leaves and caramelized French onion meshed well in perfect harmony with toasty cheese. A typical day in London requires me to stop by this pub with each visit. No matter what the weather is, I scan the menu to see if the beloved French onion soup is there.
London is my neverland – I never want to leave.