The arduous journey to Tate Modern

28 Mar

Today I decided to visit Tate Modern. It’s one of the few free museums I have yet to visit and it was a lovely day outside. As usual, I chose to ride the bus instead of the Tube because it’s 65p cheaper, and I could buy 3.25 bananas for that. I sat on the top of the double decker like a cool kid and played my new learn-Chinese-by-playing-fun-games! app on my iPod. The driver announced that the bus was only going as far as Piccadilly Circus. I’ve heard of trains not going to the end of the line, but not buses. I got out my weathered map and decided the museum would not be a far walk from Piccadilly Circus, and it was a lovely day outside. You’ll find out later that I was right about one of those two things.

When we got close to Piccadilly Circus the driver announced that Piccadilly was the last stop. The bus stopped but nobody got out, so I assumed the stop was further down. After announcing a second time that Piccadilly was the last stop, the driver stormed up the stairs to the second level. “Do any of you understand English? Piccadilly is the final stop!” Then he made a rude comment about how I should take my stupid headphones off. He was still yelling at me for wearing headphones as I stepped off the bus. I should have told him I could hear him fine and I thought we were stopping further down on Regent Street. “This is the final stop, everyone must get off” would have been a lot more helpful than just “Piccadilly is the final stop” — I didn’t think we were there yet! It had nothing to do with my headphones. I took offense because I’m not usually one of those “headphone people” — I agree with him in that so many young people today go through life “plugged in,” not enjoying the sounds around them. I purposely won’t wear noise-cancelling headphones outside because I want to hear what’s around me. I only walk with headphones in so sidewalk solicitors will leave me alone — I don’t even have music playing half the time. But I didn’t feel like arguing with the bus driver.

I checked my map again and started walking. And walking. I quickly realized my map was not to scale and the museum was a lot further away than I thought. I passed cafe after cafe filled with business people getting their lunches to go to eat outside. That’s when I realized I was hungry. Really hungry. Like, can’t make it the rest of the way to the museum without eating, hungry. I found a Tesco Express and bought a banana and some chocolate. I ate the banana while I walked, only to discover sidewalk garbage cans (“bins?”) are not popular in London. I think I walked a good 10 minutes dangling a banana peel in my hand before I was able to duck into a cafe and drop it in their bin. I finally made it to St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was looking lovely in this weather:


The museum was in sight, but I was exhausted from walking. I looked it up now, I walked 2.4 miles from the bus stop to the museum. Here’s the Google Maps screen shot to prove it:

After walking that far with the hot sun beating down on me, I just wanted to sit down. The last thing I wanted to do was walk around an art museum. I did not plan this well. I did a speed lap around the museum, bumping into way too many school groups. It was obvious the kids were supposed to be doing an assignment and taking in all the “culture,” but most of them were on their phones. The bus driver would hate them.
I found this piece intriguing, mostly because it reminds me of when I cleaned out my closets last week:


I decided I learned my lesson and would take the Tube home, although that also proved to be a challenge. The London Bridge stop was not as close as my map suggested, and I ended up on some back streets of London, where I passed a prison museum and then came upon a pirate ship.


I also discovered Southwark Cathedral before I finally found the Tube station.

After standing still on the train, I realized just how badly my feet hurt from walking. At least I got some sun, exercise and culture. I should probably return to the Tate Modern someday when I’m not being a bus-cheapo and can give it the time it deserves.

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