Monday, June 13, 2011

Searching for the Church and Finding a Filter

Being a geography nerd gives me oodles of confidence when it comes to finding my way. 

Give me a point of reference and I won't get lost.

Give me a map and I can find my way out of anywhere.

I truly can't be fooled...well, almost.

While I have a pretty good view in my head of the earth, it turns out it isn't as detailed when you get to the street level.  I was reminded of this en route to the second of what turned out to be three hotels in the greater London area on holiday two weeks back.

The Church Street Hotel describes itself as a Spanish-American oasis in Downtown South London.  It appeared to be a pretty cool alternative to our stay at Le Meridien on Piccadilly.  We should have known we were in for a longer than expected journey to our hotel on Camberwell Church Street when the Concierge at Le Meridien told us he "couldn't find our hotel on a map" - thanks for the help.  Sure it was a long journey, but it would expose us to an area of London we wouldn't otherwise see.

No worries, I say.  Who needs a map in a foreign country, a tourist?  Not me!

The tube goes as far south as Elephant and Castle.  This marked the beginning of our pedestrian journey (shown as a purple line in the map below).  Having just run a marathon a few days prior 1.6 miles doesn't seem very far, however, when you are only guessing where you are going, don't have a map, and have all of your luggage with you, 1.6 miles becomes a challenging (what turns out to be) 50 minute walk.  While Ally figured we were in the wrong location after about 25 minutes of walking, I lost faith in my ability to find our hotel just as we were exiting a small park on to Camberwell Church Street. 


It didn't help that the street name changes three times before finally intersecting with Camberwell Church Street.

Thinking each step is taking you two steps away from your final destination is a good way for a couple to get in an argument, but we did remarkably well.

We were so excited when we actually found our destination we had to take a picture of the street sign. I think it turned out quite nice.  It even has a bit of a natural vignette.

Fast fact for today - You'll find street signs on buildings in the UK rather than stand alone like we see in the US.

In the map above I've also shown the "filter exhibit" for your very own point of reference.  After walking through what felt like little French Jamaica in London to get to our hotel, we were surprised to see that we were only a few blocks away from the South London Gallery.  While walking back from the South London Gallery, which proved to be much more interesting than the gallery in Kensington Park, we stumbled upon a small, local photography exhibit, FILTER - a lens based exhibition, advertised by 8.5 x 11 sheets of paper stuck to the ground and sides of buildings. 
While the exhibit was a "meh", finding the gallery in a fledgling art-incubating neighborhood proved to be one of the most interesting, organic experiences of the trip. It also gave us new appreciate for a little known Place, tucked away in Southwark.

And here's a parting shot of the entrance. 

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