I arrived in London a few days before Brexit was to go into effect. In the early morning hours on the first day of this momentous occasion, February 1, 2020, I received an email from longtime friend, historical author, and citizen of the United Kingdom, Lee Stokes, concerning his feelings on the separation of Great Britain from the Economic Union.
Lee stated: “Nations must work together at all levels to prevent war. This is especially true in Europe, where the peace has held (since WWII), thanks to the strong NATO military alliance and the economic clout of the European Union. Britain’s quitting the EU has made the EU weaker for me.”
London is young, international, and ALIVE!
During the evenings in London’s West End theatre district, buskers sang popular tunes in Piccadilly Circus to streams of passers-by and to the young perched under the fountain that graces the square. Street artists were hard at work drawing caricatures of customers. Theatres were packed. The streets, squares, promenades in Chinatown, and restaurants were bustling. I attended a couple of theatrical performances, both of which were under US$45.
Covent Gardens, an Italianate arcade square in London’s West End, was a great place for people watching and enjoying free outdoor entertainment. A highlight for me was when the harmonious music of a classical string quintet drifted upwards as I passed by an open-air food court which was below street level. I contributed a few coins in appreciation.
Historic Camden Town, easily accessible by London’s efficient underground transportation system, is well known for its eclectic, fringe marketplace. It is also a popular place to go to snack on international street food while watching Camden’s community narrowboats maneuver the surrounding canal waterways. My favorite fast food stall there sells traditional Venezuelan arepas, a small corn flour pita filed with a variety of ingredients. Lone lines were frequent, but it was well worth the wait.
I’m off to Vienna, once an Imperial Capital, now a major European city of culture. The historic city borders the Danube River and parts of the former East Bloc. It will be my jumping off point for my winter adventures this year as I continue my exploration of Eastern Europe.
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