February 9, 2015
Andrew Cortez

Chapter 2

Bohemian Rhapsody

The journey continued as I walked to work. On the Abuja project, I have been in charge of coordination for the villas between the London and India office, which has been a great experience learning how to work across our international offices.  Our project team also visited the HBA office, which is the Interior design firm we are working with located in the Notting Hill area.  Along the way, my project manager, Luciano, gave me a fun fact about the history of this blue door we passed.  The door was to a recording studio where famous musicians come to record their albums, and was the studio that recorded Bohemian Rhapsody.  When we arrived at the HBA office, we stepped into the one story space with the receptionist and conference room.  We walked a bit further and it opened up into this grand two story light filled atrium space.  On the first floor in the center of the room was the conference table, and around the perimeter there were stacks of material binders and samples.  On the second floor along the balcony edge were the workstations, and music filled the space as the designers worked away.  We had a successful meeting discussing the project scope, and schedule moving forward.

During the weekend I thought about which sights to see next.  I decided to wander down South Bank which is a lively area with restaurants, street music, museums, and loads of people.  I set out on foot from the flat, and discovered smells of the bustling city, from car exhaust to coffee, from the many shops along the way, and even Chinese food from a street vendor.  I passed by Victoria Train Station which turned out to be a chaotic tangle of people, and trains much like an airport.  Colored lines are painted on the ground to help with way finding.  It reminded me of Dallas rush hour car traffic, getting backed up by streams of people weaving in and out of the station. 


Continuing along my route I spotted Westminster Cathedral, which is the largest Catholic church in England and Wales!


About a half mile down the road I encountered the other church famously known as Westminster Abbey which was slightly confusing at first because they are so close in location and name. 


Across the street I passed the world famous Big Ben at the Palace of Westminster.  After I fought through the crowd of tourists I crossed the River Thames to get the perfect photo of the palace, and headed down South Bank, when I heard what sounded like clanking wheels of skateboarders.  I could see a mass of people gathering around this dark concrete cave structure, that was blanketed with colorful graffiti.  I stood in the crowd as we all watched these skateboarders grinding rails, doing kick flips and ollies.  It was surprising to find out that this skate park is legal and has been home to some of the most famous skateboarders in the world for over 40 years.  I continued on to the Tate Modern art museum, which houses some of the most famous pieces of work including Picasso, Matisse, Dali, Twombly, and Richard Serra. 


The scale of the open entry gallery was massive, and the architecture of the existing power station was a display on it's own. 


I traveled through every gallery within the museum, and even had a drink at the top floor restaurant and bar, which had amazing views of the city across the Thames. After the Tate, I crossed over the Millenium Bridge, most famous for being closed down due to excessive swaying, and was the bridge destroyed in the Harry Potter Deathly Hallow's movie.


The view from the bridge north was spectacular as it framed a vista to St. Paul's Cathedral.  


After I took in the breathtaking view, I headed down the north bank of the river to find London Bridge, often confused with Tower Bridge.  At one point in time it was the only bridge to cross the Thames in London for 20 miles, and collapsed many times due to fire, and increased load from the weight of the buildings, and homes on top of the bridge.  After passing London Bridge, I made my way downstream to Tower Bridge where I was amazed by the size and color of the light blue steel against the towering brick structure. I also took in the views from the bridge, such as City Hall, HMS Belfast, and Tower of the London. 


The night was quickly coming to an end, which meant I had to make my way home.  I conquered another productive week in London, and still have plenty to see and experience. 


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Tagged @HKSXchange, Andrew Cortez, HKS Exchange Fellowship

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