Two Weeks in Europe
Wednesday 1 August: The Globe
Caught breakfast at a pub near the tube station: Salmon eggs benedict. Kinda sparse, but good. I'm also starting to understand why people like mocha coffee drinks. (No one drinks plain coffee in Europe, and I don't know latte from Americano or whatever. So I just order mocha.)
Took the tube to the Thames and walked to The Globe. I was happy to get tickets for a tour, but then Diane realized they were doing a performance of Hamlet later. We inquired at the box office and realized they still had standing-area tickets. And only five pounds! What incredible fortune!
Our tour guide explained that this was actually the third version of The Globe theater, after the first had been destroyed by Puritans and then the second just kinda faded away after open-air theater went out of fashion. The recreated Globe was a project of an American actor and director named Sam Wanamaker, who decided in 1949 it was a crime to allow London to exist without a version of Shakespeare's theater. The new Globe wasn't finished until 1997, four years after Wanamaker's death.
Our guide also told us about the very poor people who paid a penny each to watch Shakespeare's plays in the standing area. Apparently they smelled terrible and ate garlic to keep disease away, and pissed all over the floor after drinking booze during the show. (This part of the authentic Elizabethan experience is now prohibited in the theater, alas.)
After the tour we wandered around the nearby Tate Modern museum. Saw some really cool pieces about war and violence, including a flag from Mexico made from mud and cloth; a painting from Mozambique's War of Independence; and a model of an abandoned building in Lebanon that has only ever been used by snipers.
Hamlet was superb. They swapped genders for some of the parts: Hamlet, Horatio, Ophelia, and Laertes. They didn't change the language, however, so it was an intriguing combination of altered presentations. Rosenkranz was deaf and used sign language. (The other characters repeated his lines for clarity.) The performances were excellent, of course; Diane and I both teared up at certain moments.
Watching a three-hour play on one's feet is a challenge; I was pretty sore by the end of it. On the other hand, we were right up against the stage, so we could lean against it, which was nice. Unfortunately, the teenagers beside us were utterly bored by the play, so some of them were playing games and social media on their phones. There's no escape!
After the play we saw a sign advertising the Museum of Tea & Coffee. Tried to locate it, but had no luck. We asked several people, but nobody had any idea what we were talking about. (According to Wikipedia, the museum closed in 2008 when its founder died.)
Wandered around the London Bridge area and came upon an outdoor venue for young well-dressed professionals. We hung out there for a bit, then began the quest for dinner. Diane was eager to find a place that served a traditional mix of sweet pickled veggies and cheese. After almost an hour of searching, we were close to giving up.
But then we came upon a tiny place called The King's Arms and struck gold! Diane was chuffed and I received a second helping of fish with my chips and mushy peas, since the kitchen was feeling generous. Vielfraß though I am, however, I could not eat it all. May the gods have mercy on me.
Headed back for a final night of hotel sleep.
The text is from the UDHR