May 122011

Day 20 (May 10, 2011)

Itinerary: Hamlet at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, Tate Modern,
walking in London

Vacation is starting to wind down. Today we realized that we only
have a few more days together before we have to go out separate ways.
We plan to get as many shows out of London as possible before we
leave, so this afternoon we headed to Shakespeare’s Globe Theater to
see Hamlet.

We booked ahead online to be groundlings at the show for only 5 pounds
each. It is certainly the cheapest show in London. The groundlings
stand around the stage and to get spots along the edge of the stage,
we needed to line up about an hour in advance. In the area, we had a
leisurely lunch before we got in line. We at at a place called Pizza
Express, but it was actually the same restaurant as Milano that we
visited in Ireland on the first night we were there. We remember the
food being excellent and it still was even in England. Actually,
contrary to popular belief, all the food we’ve had in England has been

Shakespeare’s Globe was rebuilt as the original does not exist any
more of course. The first version burnt down, the second was
eventually torn down, and now this one, the third, I think, was
finished in 1997 on the bank of the Thames River. I always pictured
it in a more rural area, but we were still in central London
surrounded by buildings and skyscrapers. Down low, The Globe Theater
is hard to pick out. The inside was just as you would picture it.
The area is small as the actors do not have microphones. There are 3
or 4 levels of seating on balconies vertically stacked. We stayed on
the ground floor in an area that would hold up to 700 people, though
that would be a tight fit. We got in early enough to grab a spot
along the edge of the stage, though it was off on the side rather than
the front. This meant that some of the view was obstructed by a large
column holding the roof over the stage, but most of the action
occurred in plain view. The stage was probably just over 4.5 feet
tall as I could just barely rest my arms on the stage to watch.
Standing for 3 hours of Hamlet would have been tough without the stage
to lean on.

The show was well done and it was quite an experience to see the play
as it was meant to be seen. There was a short intermission between
acts where all of us groundlings were able to sit down and take a
break. It was certainly interesting to see the same actors play a
variety of characters. A change of coat or over-shirt made the
difference between the characters. All the changing took place in the
wings on stage as I can imagine it would have been done in
Shakespeare’s time. This did not detract from the action out front,
but it does make me appreciate all the modern technology in today’s

After everyone died, and then took their bows, we wandered next door
to the Tate Modern museum. We only had time to visit one floor of
this free art museum, so we viewed modern art on the 5th floor made of
every day materials and generally from the 1960s. This is the kind of
modern art similar to putting a broom in the corner of the room
upside-down and calling it art.

At 6pm, the museum docents kicked us out and we made our way back to
the hotel to change for the evening. We had dinner reservations at a
steak restaurant that Mark found and picked out. This place was
certainly focused on cow. I’m sorry to all my vegetarian friends for
the description of the restaurant. We walked into a meat-eaters
wonderland. The walls, stairs, and chairs all had the black and
white cow hide. Before we ordered, the waitstaff brought out a tray
of the uncooked meat and pointed at and explained each cut so we could
see what we would be eating. We could see exactly how it was marbled
and the size. The menus were long and thin, about 2 inches wide, but
opened up in accordion style to reveal all the different meats to
order. First pick a cut, then pick how much you are going to eat. We
had to do a little conversion from grams to ounces to make sure we got
the right amount. The entree was just the meat, so we ordered a
couple sides to go with it. I certainly do not go out and eat steak
on my own in Houston and Mark doesn’t get good steak in Algeria. So
we both enjoyed the treat as the steak melted away in our mouths.

Okay, veggies, you can start reading again. The weather had been
gorgeous all day with blue skies, sun, and a few clouds during the
day. Tonight was clear and pleasant again, so we walked along the
Thames River near the London Eye again and around Westminster before
heading back to the hotel for typing and bed.

Tomorrow is our last full day together and the last day in London.
We’ve got some more shows lined up and some final shopping for Mark.

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