Monday, April 25, 2011

england - london

After being in Ukraine, flying to London was like a Disney movie come to life. I thought a pair of robins would come and tie ribbons in my hair and the trees would start singing. After being in the wintery cold, gray, depressing bits of Eastern Europe, England was fully into spring, with lush green grass and fragrant tree blossoms. A three day whirlwind through London seemed too fast for all of its glory, but luckily, we seemed to cover most of the “biggies.”

Day 1:

Watched the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. Well, not really. After only seeing four guards change, we saw a sign stating there was “No changing of the guards” that day. The palace itself was nice, but not quite as grand as I had imagined it. The surrounding gardens were lovely, though, full of beautiful flowers and people lounging around eating lunch and enjoying the perfect weather. Whilst on our stroll, we passed a camera crew and…could it be? Will and Kate, weeks before the big nuptials? Well, certainly not, but some rather convincing impersonators being filmed for something or other.

From there we made a quick stop in the National Gallery, mostly to see the impressionist works they housed there. Of course we saw Big Ben (which was much more impressive than I had imagined), Houses of Parliament, and the Westminster Abbey. We saw none of the interiors, for they were much too expensive! If I haven’t mentioned it yet, London is very pricey.

Walking across the River Thames, we saw a string of bridges, as well as the giant London Eye (which was a mere $30 per person, we skipped that as well). What we unexpectedly came upon next was an overwhelming mix of street performers, that had us guessing who we’d see next: Michael Jackson, Charlie Chaplin, Mickey and Donald, crazy lizard man, Darth Vadar, and more! It was quite hilarious and entertaining. We ended the evening watching a free jazz concert at the National Theater before calling it a night.

Day 2:

The day began by indulging my inner Harry Potter nerd-dom by visiting King’s Cross train station, where we sought out Platform 9¾. We couldn’t find it at first, then as we approached a worker to ask for help, we noticed he was singing “Harry Potter” under his breath. Apparently other people have trouble finding it as well. When we got to the infamous wall where Harry ploughs through to make his way to Hogwarts, we were amused to find no children, only other adults like ourselves. Even though the wall was pretty cheesy, we did our obligatory poses and took photos.

Then we indulged Guy’s inner Sherlock Holmes nerd-dom by visiting 221 Baker’s Street, where there was a museum and gift store selling everything Sherlock related. Then off to the Tower of London, where all of the crown jewels are held. No jewels were beheld by us, as we were going to be meeting up with friends shortly, and we wanted to glimpse the great St. Paul’s Cathedral before meeting them on the Millenium Bridge. We met Stan and Sarah back in Bolivia at the crazy monkey park, which was towards the beginning of our trip, and thought it was quite fitting to see them again right at the end of our journey.  It was fantastic seeing them again, as we both enjoy both of them so much!  We went to grab some drinks and some German food, where we were joined by another pair of their friends, who were also lots of fun.  It was great to be able to talk to Sarah and Stan about being home after such a long trip (all of the realizations and adjustments), as they had recently returned from their 6 month trip around the world.  What a fun night.  I really hope we are able to join up with them again someday.

Day 3:

Our final day in England, and our final day of the trip.  We spent the day browsing stores in the Soho area, eating a cheap version of “Proper tea” (which left much to be desired), and a very overwhelming stop at Harrods, the most comprehensive store that exists in London.  World famous, it has many high-end departments, including 32 restaurants, a champagne and caviar bar and upscale pet salon.  Jewels, clothes, furniture, stuffed animals...anything you want to buy, you can find here.  Even a $3,100 giant bear.  Besides being overwhelmed by the incredible amount of goods, the swarms of people there drove us out and left me practically hyperventilating!

Just across the street was Hyde Park, where we caught our breath and took in our last "visions" of London.  I really enjoyed our brief time there and all of the beautiful sights we saw.   It really sunk in at that point that we were really almost home and the trip was quickly coming to a close.  The following morning showed up very quickly, and soon we were on "the tube" (underground railway) and at the airport, ready to board our 8 hour flight to Chicago. 

The journey was coming to a close...

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