Monday, April 03, 2006

I Don't Want to Go to Chelsea

Sleeping in feels so good. Your mobile phone ringing to wake you from that sleep is not. Unless it's an old friend from Australia who just happens to be living in London now. Luckily, that was the case. Pav, whom I last saw on my Australian adventure wound up getting a job in London. And all this time I thought he'd moved to Ireland. No matter! We made our way to disgustingly fashionable Chelsea, where this very internet cafe is, and Pav met up with us shortly thereafter.

King's Road is where it's at in Chelsea. All the fancy shopping, restaurants, bars, you name it. Frankly, I don't find much of it charming - I'd compare it to the Marina District in San Francisco, and I think most people understand my feelings about that. But still, it's London so it's different and surprisingly more down to earth. And unlike the humorless Marina types, they do have a sense of fun here. We decided to get some Vietnamese pho noodles at this little courtyard place sporting a big Buddha logo and the name... Phat Phuc. Really.

Besides the silly name and tasty Jasmine tea, Phat Phuc was an oasis. The noodles are fresh, the broth is light and - get this - they give you tons of gently cooked vegetables, full of all the nutrients and flavor that the British Isles were thought to be robbed of centuries ago. So if you're tired of pub food and pre-packaged sandwiches from Sainsbury's or can't have another dodgy curry, go see the Phat Phuc. He'll do ya right.

Naturally, all that healthiness had to be balanced out. So it was off to the Trafalgar, a swanky yet comfortable bar with a great view over the street for people watching. Definitely a great spot to drink a Sunday afternoon away and catch up with a friend. The sun even came out to make it that much more pleasant.

Plans to do a little grocery and drug shopping along King's Road were derailed by the fact that everything closes by 5 on Sunday. And it was well after 5. SHIT! We need to get ready for tonight's show already and get our asses way up north of the city to Wembley. An ordeal in itself, as the Metropolitan Line of the tube is closed, meaning fewer trains... We scooted on over to Baker Street, met with Sarah and Amy for a pint at the Globe, and got on the next train to scuzzy-ass Wembley Central, as recommended by Wembley's web site.

Of course, the web site doesn't tell you that it's a mile from Wembley Central to the Arena, and the show was about to start. Thank god for black cabs. We got into the Arena just in time for the opening strains of the first song "A Pain That I'm Used To," and what followed was yet another terrific show, this time with a really amped up crowd, plenty of singing along and - oh yes - dead center seats. Since London shows are a homecoming for Depeche Mode, the crowd goes off and the band seems more cheery and loose, and for the first time in ages, Dave Gahan and Martin Gore truly looked like a couple of old friends on stage. That was nice.

What was not nice was trying to get on the tube after the show. The Wembley Park station - which it turns out is much closer than Central - was packed to the hilt. Not to mention the last train home. It looked like one of those crazy commuter trains in Tokyo, with people barely fitting into the doors. Fuck that noise! Luckily, we were the first on to the Rail Replacement Bus back to Baker Street, which means we had seats for the longish ride back. Amy and Sarah were able to catch a cab to Shoreditch from there, while Elena and I hopped on a night bus back to Knightsbridge, from whence we had a really nice walk among the eerily empty street full of upper-crust boutiques and, happily, no vagrants or drunks asking for money. Sometimes it's nice to stay in the posh part of town.

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