on September 4, 2006
If my surprise free trip up in the London Eye was the most unexpected thing I did while in London, then Covent Garden was certainly the most pleasantly unexpected place. It’s not something you necessarily hear about simultaneously with London, though for my money it was the very essence of what makes London a phenomenal place to visit and not just another European city with lots of history. The group I was with decided to meet up in Trafalgar Square for a bit of sight seeing of a wet London morning and then split off after a moment of realizing we all wanted to see something different. Me and several friends headed off past Nelson's Column and the most pigeons I'd ever seen in my life up to that point and off towards the National Gallery. After a bit of walking we stumbled onto something that at the time I had no idea existed. With the possible exception of landing in Edinburgh the first time into the medieval setting that was several hundred years out of date, I've never felt so suddenly thrust into a completely foreign world before in all of my life. A few steps over some puddly streets and there before us was one of the wildest and most dazzling streets I've ever come across to date. The sudden spectacular array of street performers, markets, shops, restaurants, pubs and musicians was a lot to take in all at once, even for London. I could quite easily have spent my entire three day trip in that one little corner of the city (and probably still not explored it half as well as one should) had I not needed to meet up with friends that afternoon in Piccadilly Circus. There's not enough space on this little review for me to say a half of what should be said about Covent Garden, so before I run out of words I'll say the most important bit. If you’re planning a trip to London--no matter how short--pop by Covent Garden. It's the city's crown jewel as far as I'm concerned. Really amazing. Even with the International Festival in Edinburgh every year I've never seen street performs as impressive as the ones I saw walking through Covent Garden. The market is superb and huge. Allow as much browsing time as you possibly can. Also, and I say this to all fellow travellers in a slightly conspiratorial tone, there is something in particular you should try. There was a palm reader on the corner who remarkably resembled Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. He's a bit of a marvel (and works by donations only.) Even flat broke myself and all my friends left him generous tips. I will say no more, just try him out if you can, he will have you discussing it for years and leave you feeling as you’ve witnessed something a bit mystical.
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