Picadilly Circus

Mama Mia! (London, England, United Kingdom)

When the full moon in the sky hits your face through London’s Eye, that’s amore. Of all the things one could feel in London I was feeling oddly Italian.

London becomes a known quantity fairly quickly. Visit it once and it’s exciting. Visit it again and it’s stimulating. Somewhere between the third and fifth visits it becomes just another city. You walk around envious of people who are here the first time and wish you could feel their enthusiasm. London to me is a worn out favorite song.

Needing dinner, I went to Picadilly to score a decent price at one of the several restaurants near Charing Cross. Ruling out Indian, Chinese and Vietnamese I settled on a restaurant that dished out Italian cuisine at a set menu price of nine pounds. Unbelievable in London.

Things were looking up and the meal to come made me happy to be in this place.

The waitress brought me several slices of fresh baguette bread, a cup of black and green olives and best of all, beer!

Next came two sardines sliced lengthwise and grilled to perfection in oil and herbs followed by a four cheese pizza topped with mushrooms, ham and peppers. The meal was capped off with a dessert of homemade teramisu that was flawless. It was amore.

The service was as amazing as the food. Whenever my plate or glass was empty not more than 30 seconds would pass before I was asked if I needed something else. There was always a smile from the staff and they clearly were working their booties off. They were unflappable.

I spoke with the owner Oliver for a few minutes and he said “It’s all about the customer”. It was a dedication that you don’t expect to find in the bustling city. He loved what he was doing.

The pulsating, epilepsy inducing disco ball that was Picadilly growed tiresome and I craved familiar London. I rode the Tube to Embankment and walked to the center of the Thames on the new Golden Jubilee footbridge.

To the left, a full moon was starng at me almost dead center through the London Eye observation wheel. To my right on the other side of the river was Big Ben lit up in all his glory.

Big Ben
Big Ben is the nickname for the great bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London and is generally extended to refer to the clock or the clock tower as well. Some believe this extension to be incorrect, but its usage is now entirely commonplace. It is the largest four-faced chiming clock and the third-tallest free-standing clock tower in the world

Like a magnet I walked along the muddy Thames shoreline walkway to pay my respects to the old man. Big Ben doesn’t make demands. It just is and that’s all it needs to be. It has nothing to prove and that was reassuring. Big, imposing and standing above the London skyline Big Ben is most definitely a man.

In time with my walk my head rotated upwards with mathematic regularity. 20, 40, 60 and finally 80 degrees as I stared at his face from far below. He was wearing a green head band of light with his small spires illuminated against the dark, hazy sky. It was ten p.m. and he spoke with ten booming, authoritative chimes.

I stared at Big Ben and thought about that Charlie Chaplin movie where he was hanging from giant clock hands almost ready to fall off. I felt as if I was going to fall too but into what I didn’t know. What was I still doing here in London?

It was time to move further in Dolce Vita: my good life. Cornwall was calling and that’s where I decided to go next. It was a place that promised excitement with it’s red sandstone cliff faces and rocky coastlines.

All I could think of while entering the Westminster Tube Station was “Mama Mia”!