Geeks Abroad! Post 9: More London–sightseeing, cat cafe, The Who Shop, West Ham

The following events take place on May 13th and 14th, 2015.

This morning we begin our day by riding around one loop of the yellow route of a double-decker bus tour. I didn’t particularly want to do this, but it was the one thing in London Jon really wanted to do, so…yea.
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Here are the pictures I took along the way.

Also, there was another Shaun on the Tower Bridge.
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After this, we caught the Tube over to Euston station and made our way over to the fake 221B Baker St and the real Speedy’s Sandwich Bar & Cafe.

Shots from the show:

Our shots:

The cat there is the first actual cat I’ve seen on this entire trip.  He sat by our feet the entire time we were eating lunch and while not outgoingly affectionate, he did lay down and roll over as I pet him after lunch.

After lunch we took the Tube and walked over to the Hard Rock Cafe so Jon could get a shirt at the very first Hard Rock.  Luckily the weather was lovely as we strolled from the Tube station through the park .  Then at the Hard Rock we decided to get dessert.  Also, our server happened to be American, but a Tigers fan versus Jon’s KC hat.

On our walk back through the park, we saw this squirrel.  It even sat still long enough for me to take it’s picture.
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And then I took some shots of people on the escalator in the Tube station…

These things are just so long and steep!  I had Jon stand at the bottom of this one and I took the picture right before I got to the top, and you can’t even tell it’s him.

That evening we saw Wicked!

I found it most enjoyable.  It made me laugh and cry.  The music didn’t catch me at first but greatly improved after the beginning.  Although, I’m still not sure what the point of that giant dragon above the stage is, because it’s not mentioned in the show….

~*~*~*~*~*~*~The next day~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Thursday morning is a rainy one.  The first rain since we arrived on Monday, so overall I’d say we lucked out.  Our plan for the day is to walk down to the Westminster bridge and catch the river cruise that was included with our double-decker bus tour, and then ride the Tube over to the cat cafe, which we have an appointment for.  That was the plan, anyway…

First of all, the mini umbrella I’d brought turned out to be useless.  Any time there was a mild gust of wind it would flip the thing inside out.  After the second time in 5 minutes I gave up on it and put it away.  I had a hoodie on so my head was protected, but the drizzle attacked my glasses as we tried to walk.  I sighed and went into the nearest souvenir shop and bought the cheapest baseball-style hat they had.  I’d resisted buying other hats on this trip and I wish now that I had bought one of the ones I’d actually liked in Brussels or something.  But no, I end up with one that just says ‘London’ on it.  At least it’s in shades of blue, but still, when the heck am I ever going to wear this again?  I’d thought about buying an actual umbrella, but didn’t because of the size (packability) and the fact that who knows if what I’d pick to buy would be any stronger.  So hoodie and baseball cap it is.

Also in the shop, we found random American baseball jackets.

We continue on towards the boat a little later than we’d wanted to.  There’s a long-ass line.  They fill up the boat we had wanted to catch and the line was still long.  The river cruise employees don’t think we’ll make it on the next one, either.  Also, we’re in line in a middle of a class of elementary school children.  So now Jon’s grumpy at me for my slow getting ready that morning (which I did) and delay at the shop to get a hat (though at the time he seemed perfectly content to peruse the whole shop…he’s the one that found those baseball jackets), and grudgingly admits we’ll need to skip the boat and just catch the Tube over.

We make our Underground journey and I have my first ride that includes an above-ground train (I have heard something like 65% of the Underground is actually above ground).  We exit the station and the cat cafe is a few blocks down.  Here are some of the sights–a love-locked fence, huge possum street art and the cat cafe, Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium.

Since we’d taken the Tube all the way instead of partially by boat, we still have an hour before our reservation time so we head to a pub across the street for lunch.  I get some sliders and Jon gets some kind of crazy lobster sandwich.  Also, they have an extensive selection of international beers n’ such so Jon gets some beer and I pick an English hard cider, which turns out to come in a rather huge bottle.  Tasty, though a lot of drink to drink, and I have to chug the last bit so we can go make our cat cafe reservation.

Then we get to see some cats!!  A good portion of them were sleeping, and they asked us not to pet the ones that were sleeping, so the few that were awake always had people paying attention to them.  You definitely had to be patient until it was your turn with a lively cat.  The place has got a pretty cool setup though, and I enjoyed my experience.  Plus, all the people that were there obviously loved cats, too, so I felt comfortable talking to anyone (not usually the case with strangers).  I think we got to stay a little bit longer than normal since someone had booked the entire place for the afternoon to do a photo shoot with the cats.  We saw them pulling a bunch of photography equipment in.

As we left I bought a couple things including a tote bag, a silky scarf with kitties on it and an Oyster Card holder.

Our next stop is the Who Shop, which Kathleen told us about back in Cardiff and I decided we must go.  We take the train over to Upton Park and set off on the half-mile walk to the shop.  This street we’re walking down has hair salons, barber shops and beauty supply stores all over the place.  No joke, it’s more of these than not, and it’s odd.

As we continue our rain-laden walk, we come across a large structure to our left.  We have unknowingly stumbled upon the West Ham stadium.  My inner geek freaks out.  This stems back to The IT Crowd, when Roy and Moss were trying to fit in with ‘proper men’.

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See, it’s funny because he panicked and made up a team name, but it turns out it’s an actual team….and outside of the show it IS a real team.

As it happened, their shop was open so we went in and I ended up buying a shirt on clearance and a little rubber duckie keychain.  As I was checking out, I tried to just smile and not say anything so as to not prompt any questions as to why an American was a West Ham fan…not sure if they would find it amusing or annoying that I was in there just because of The IT Crowd.

But since then I’ve been trying to legitimately learn about them (I followed them on Twitter and they actually followed me back), and though their regular season doesn’t start for another couple weeks, they’ve been doing fairly well in the Europa league qualifiers.  Also, a fun fact:  their fight song and many of their chants are rather self-deprecating, which I find odd but amusing.

Anyway, we eventually continue down the street and around the corner to arrive at The Who Shop.
As luck has it, they won’t let you take pictures inside so I’ll have to try to describe the shop’s merchandise.  You’ve got your typical things—T-shirts, DVDs, sonic screwdrivers—and yet they’ve got a decent selection of more unique types of items.  Old action figures, remote controlled Tardis and K-9, bathrobes, Ugg boots, rugs, cutlery, bathroom decor, children’s party supplies, bedsheets and blankets, tea sets, aquarium decor, BBQ accessories, Tardis trash can, Tardis telephone, Tardis jewelry box, Tardis mini-fridge, Tardis USB charger, Tardis tents, coasters, candy, lamps, clocks, cardboard cutouts, varsity baseball jackets, bakingware, costumes, plushies, books…so many books!

A lot of it was pretty cool, but mostly due to luggage constraints, I limited myself to small items; a shirt, a little talking K-9 figure (affirmative), a Torchwood patch, a tin of Tardis mints, a mini Tardis and a Travel Card holder for Jon.
To Victory
Armed with our West Ham and Who Shop bags, we make our way back through the rain to the Underground station and head back to our hotel.  Basically, the clothes we’ve been wearing all day are moderately soaked so we change our clothes and head out to find a couple more of the Shauns the map says are around the Piccadilly Circus area.  Unfortunately, the map marking their locations was small and didn’t have street names so there was a bit of wandering.  We found 3 of the 4 we were looking for, though, so it wasn’t a total bust.

The one I’m pointing at is called “Baa-Bushka”, which made me laugh.

We walked around the area, which has a lot of shops, bars and restaurants, and ended up eating at the Carnaby Burger Co, which is tiny (though I think they either have an upstairs or downstairs we didn’t see).  The burgers were great, though, so it made the coziness of the place not so stifling.  One of the walls was decorated with covers of classic literature-type books.  Mostly ones I have not read, but of the ones I had, they were ones they made me read in school and I didn’t much care for.  But apparently the pictures were each hand-pasted onto the wall, so I gotta admire the dedication that took.

After dinner we continued walking around the area, and I was inexplicably drawn into this shop…I dunno, something activated in me that roots back to loving to go to Sanrio as a kid…and teenager.

My travel book recommended I buy something that I’d use on a regular basis once I got home.  A useful souvenir, basically.  So I bought a nail brush and a sponge holder.  In cat form, obviously.

I’ve used the nail brush for scratching under Monkey’s chin more than I’ve used it for my nails, but the point is it DOES get used.  Validated.

After that, we spent a while walking around to different convenience stores looking for a peanut butter Cornetto I’ve been seeing in commercials on this entire trip.

We had no luck, so in the end I just ordered a chocolate tart with orange clotted cream from room service. This turned out to be…
Turns out I am a BIG fan of clotted cream.

That night we basically situated all our crap; re-packed clothes and I had to bust out the empty tote bag I’d brought for souvenirs ‘n such. That took a while, but once it was finally manageable and ready to check out in the morning, we passed out.

Stay tuned for the next post where we travel to Dublin!

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