Wednesday, September 9, 2009

London; Wed thru Sat--"Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress"

“It is my understanding that the Constitution of the United States allows everybody the free choice between cheesecake and strudel.” – Sky Masterson in “Guys and Dolls”

I arrived in London about 2:15pm on Wednesday, September 2nd. Heathrow was a mess. I don’t want to discuss that any further, because if I can make myself forget how much I utterly hate airports, maybe I’ll be brave enough to keep traveling. Needless to say, taking the Dot2Dot service was loads better than the alternative: the tube.

Don’t get me wrong—in just about a week I feel like the tube is about the easiest thing there is. All the same, luggage + London + foreigner + tube = disaster. Just like that.

Our first excursion out, after getting all our stuff packed away and attending an orientation was on Thursday. We went to the British Museum and the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square. Here are some more postcard pictures. The experience was like so:

“Um . . . so we want you to go to the British Museum and the National Gallery. We want you to look at the Rosetta Stone, and a few paintings. Get off at the Tottenham Court tube stop, and go down the street until you see it. It shouldn’t be too hard. Then when you get out of the British Museum, walk down the street a little ways, you’ll see the National Gallery.”


Here on Trafalgar Square was where I had my first “I’m in London” experience. Until the moment when I was on Trafalgar Square and looked up and saw Big Ben, it felt more like I was in another part of the States, than in another country. I still don’t feel like I’m as far away from home as I am. So far, I think that’s a great thing—very little culture shock as of right now. But for some reason, because Big Ben is so obviously not something that would exist in America, and because it’s such a epitomizing symbol of London and the UK, it was when it first felt like I was somewhere completely different.

On Friday, we had all of our classes for ½ hour Introductions—and then we got to doing some homework: Walks around London. Julene, Lisa, Brooke and I went on ½ of the “Seats of Power” Walk. When we got off the tube at Westminster, we looked up.

Up close and personal. Actually—an interesting point I didn’t know before—Big Ben is a reference to the bell inside the tower—not the tower itself. However, since the bell can’t be seen, the entire tower is commonly referred to as “Big Ben.”

Here are several more pictures of some awesome buildings on the “Seats of Power” walk, which included Whitehall, Victoria Embankment, Parliament Square, Great George Street, Abington, and Pall Mall. These pictures were taken on Friday and on Tuesday (when we did the second half of the walk). I know it’s a lot, so just look at them and humor me. Because this stuff is killing me.

I’ll tell you why.

I love architecture. There’s no point in explaining any further. I know I’m not smart enough to create it, or to understand it. I know I’m not opinionated enough about it to critique it, or even praise it. I just love looking up.

Back track just a bit; on Saturday Julene and I went to St. Paul’s, mostly because I’d gotten an email from my Dad the second or third day in London that said something to the effect of: “If you’re still feeling down, go to St. Paul’s—it’ll remind you why you’re in London.” So I made plans to go—and Saturday it happened. Julene and I loved it; every time we turned around we had to take another picture, so these three pictures here are not at all representative of all the pictures I took that afternoon. A new perspective required a new picture. It was awful, and wonderful at the same time.

We couldn’t take pictures inside, but we did go inside and it was gorgeous and gigantic.


After St. Paul’s Julene and I went down Ludgate Hill to a little pub called “Ye Olde London” and had Fish & Chips. I was necessary. I thought I’d add this picture because I’ve gotten so many facebook comments about it. I guess it’s a common custom to include minted, mashed, mushy peas with Fish and Chips in London, and they did. Well, I already have a hard time with peas, so these Mx3 peas were . . . for lack of a better term, worse. I got some on the end of a “chip” and decided to try it. Never again. Never again. But the Fish & Chips were good!

After lunch, Julene and I walked across the Thames on the Millennium Bridge—also known as the bridge destroyed in Harry Potter #6. I think the picture I took here of the Millennium Bridge, which I left un-edited is the best picture I’ve taken in a LONG time. Why not just LOOK at those clouds?

We saw Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and walked around one of the galleries at the Tate Modern Museum.

I’ll be more thought provoking in the future. But I just wanted to get Wednesday-Saturday down on paper . . . or, blog. Here it is. Forgive my dislike of people in my pictures. Forgive my dislike of myself in pictures. I’ll endeavor to be better about such things. No promises it’ll get better straight away.

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