UCLA Goes to London (Week 2)

Second week in London!  This week began with a trip to Camden, a town known for its thrift shops and food.  It was like going to a giant outdoor market; vendors everywhere trying to sell you so much stuff.  A group of us spent a few hours there and my friend Evan and I broke off to go see… WICKED!  We went to a really low-key ticket seller who sold us seats for £37 each (a little more than $50 each) and they were 2nd row!  Such a great experience!

The next day was a performance day, meaning we had class and then we got dressed up to see a performance of Richard III at the Old Vic Theater.  Before the performance, a large group from the program went to the National Gallery to see some of the amazing portraits they have on display.  It’s strange to stand merely feet away from the paintings you study in school for years but never have the chance to experience first-hand.  After the National Gallery, we headed to the theater for the performance.  Wondering who was starring as Richard III?  Oh, just Kevin Spacey!  It was amazing to see an American actor doing Shakespeare theatre in London.  The production was quite memorable, to say the least.  Luckily the theater was far away, so it gave us another opportunity to wander the London streets, which always turns out to be a great time.

The next day was our last day in London.  It was pretty sad to imagine it, but we had a lot to look forward to.  That day’s class had a guest speaker, Chuck Iwuji, who played Buckingham (one of the main roles in “Richard III”).  He was very insightful, talking about acting all over the world.  Then we went for a picnic lunch in the park; it was a beautiful day to enjoy a good meal with friends.  For dinner, we wanted some really good Indian food that was closer than Brick Lane, so we went to a place called Punjab.  It was excellent!  After dinner, we decided to live up the last night on the town and go to the most amazing place called IceBar.  It was a bar that was a giant freezer, made entirely of ice.  When you entered the bar, you received a large parka to keep warm and gloves to hold your glass.  The gloves were very important because your glass was made out of ice!  It was a great time and we had some really tasty drinks, as well.  The last night was finished with pub hopping all over, reminiscing about our time in this magical city.

And now, on to Stratford-Upon-Avon!  It was a 2-hour bus ride from London through the countryside to reach the home of William Shakespeare.  When we got there, we all settled in to the new hotel and then went for a hike through the English countryside.  That was absolutely beautiful!  We took a bunch of pictures of everyone frolicking in the fields—clearly, city kids in a new environment.  We had a delicious barbeque dinner provided by the hotel and a pool party in the hotel’s pool.  It was a great night.

The Stratford adventure continues in Week 3.  More on Shakespeare and his hometown next time!