Stonehenge, Thunder Storms, and the Best Last Day Ever (London days 16, 17 & 18)

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So…. I’m home, now. *cue sad music* I had a post written before I left, but again, there were problems loading pictures. But now that I’m back with a somewhat better internet connection, I’ll be able to catch you all up to speed with the last few days of my trip, which were pretty amazing.

Wednesday we took another trip outside the City, starting with Stonehenge.

One side.

One side.

It was crazy windy and cold, but the scenery on the drive out there was beautiful. Stonehenge was pretty amazing, too.

The other side.

The other side.

Some say it’s underwhelming. I can see where they’re coming from. It is just a bunch of rocks if you think about it. But listening to the audio tour and thinking about how impressive it is that it’s even here and the meaning of it all, you see more than just a pile of rocks. You see history and human innovation and a feature the world’s deemed important enough to want to visit.

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And take selfies in front of.

We then went out to Bath, the famous vacation place in Jane Austen novels. We first toured the Roman baths there.

I imagine they had better pool boys back in the day...

I imagine they had better pool boys back in the day…

I always enjoy looking at Roman things. Much like Stonehenge and the mummies, it’s just mind-blowing to think about how old they are. And yet, enough of it is still intact to give you a good idea of how it looked.

The water is warm and slimy, FYI.

The water as warm and slimy as you’d imagine.

Faith and I then walked a little ways to the famous crescent houses. There was the “Circus,” which consisted of four curved buildings arranged to form a circle.

Here's one quarter of it.

Here’s one quarter of it.

Then there was the Royal Crescent, the one you see in films like Persuasion.

Bloody construction ruining another photo.

I would not have ran the full length of this just to confess my love. Captain Wentworth would have to wait for a letter or something.

For lunch we had pasties, which are the better version of bierocks. I was feeling adventurous and got lamb and mint. We also wanted ice cream, since there were like fifty ice cream shops, but they were cash-only and we’d already run out of notes.

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Didn’t realize they gave out awards for these sort of things.

It was raining when we arrived back in London later that evening. A bunch of the class went out for Mexican food, but Faith and I decided that didn’t sound good, plus we were cold and tired, so we spent the night in.

It was still raining the next day. We spent the morning in our last class period, writing about the British Museum and fondly reflecting on our trip with each other. We then went off to our last museum visit at the Tate Modern. We walked across the Millennium Bridge to get there, and it poured on us the whole way. Some people complained, but I thought it was beautiful (and weather I sorely miss now that I’m back in the oven that is Fresno).

The Tate Modern is inside an old powerhouse. It houses “modern” art which, much like modern theater, is weird.

Example.

Example.

I got separated from the group and wandered numbly around the galleries for maybe forty minutes before leaving. I tried to keep an open mind, but barely anything stood out to me as being really cool or beautiful. There was maybe one painting that I liked…

Though by these standards I'm pretty sure I could make it as an "artist."

Which isn’t saying much.

…And a series of photographs of a boy throughout his service in the French army that was interesting (I think I’ve seen them online before, too). But otherwise, I just felt confused the whole time. It definitely made me think about what the point of art is or should be.

By this standard, even I could be an "artist."

By this standard, even I could be an “artist.”

I walked back across the Millennium Bridge to get back. The rain had turned into a storm by then, with thunder roaring in the distance. It was so lovely to spend time by myself admiring the view and the rain.

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Those umbrella-less people are either locals who aren’t phased by a little shower, or tourists who are too dumb to prepare for one…

Faith and I met back at our flat, where we got into our cozy sweats and made dinner. That night’s meal was steak that turned out to be disgusting ground meat, and potatoes in duck fat that turned out to be surprisingly good. Felicity came over later for a little chat, and then we all went to bed early to prepare for our final attempt at Hamlet tickets the next day.

That day was Friday, our very last day. I can hardly write about it without feeling all giddy again (foreshadow alert!) We woke up at 4:30 and made it out to the Barbican theater by 6. It was not a black day, so there was one thing going for us, but we felt a little disheartened that we were about at the same place in line as we’d been the week before. With only 30 tickets available, and a 2 ticket limit per person, we were starting to give up and talk about back-up plans for our last evening.

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Especially since people were holding spots for their friends. Not cool.

About an hour in line was spent outside in the freezing cold, and then the rest was spent inside. The lady behind us in line was from California, and the people behind her were from Virginia, so we at least made some new friends while waiting. Felicity and I had some great conversations in line too, and once again, I felt so blessed to have this opportunity to make such great friends.

By 10 o’clock they started selling the tickets. Our hearts raced as we moved further and further up the line. I was nearly convinced we weren’t going to get them. But, lo and behold… WE DID!

Happy faces!

Happy faces!

Anything could’ve happened that day and we wouldn’t have cared. We were gonna see HAMLET in LONDON starring BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH!

We did have a free afternoon to fill, so Faith went off to get her last-mintue souvenirs while Felicity and I had lunch at Pret. I still really wanted to see the Imperial War Museum even though by then we didn’t have much time. Felicity and I spent maybe an hour in there, but it was so worth it.

Those little yellow things are people.

Those little yellow things are people.

Outside, along with that giant gun thing (I so know my military terms), was also a section of the Berlin Wall.

London's already done that for me.

London’s already done that for me.

Inside there were planes and missiles hanging from the ceiling.

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And stairs. Always more stairs.

We decided to choose one exhibit to really spend time in and just skim by everything else. We went into the Holocaust section where we weren’t supposed to take any pictures, but I momentarily forgot and snapped this pic:

Powerful quote, though.

Powerful quote, though.

It was so… just… mind blowing. This would’ve been a much better museum to visit as a class than the Tate Modern. It was interesting to get the British perspective on the world wars, since it was so much closer to home for them. Even though I was still riding on cloud nine, I also felt extremely humbled as I pondered the Nazi movement and the atrocities it invoked on the world.

Some of the other things we came across while we hurried out was a replica of Little Boy…

No, it's the actual bomb. *eye roll*

No, it’s the actual bomb. *eye roll*

And a piece of scrap from the Twin Towers…

That "how is this British?" question coming up again...

That “why is this in England” question coming up again…

We spent some time back at our flat to cook pasta for dinner and get ready for the play. I finally got to wear the dress I’d bought the week before when we first tried to snag the tickets, and didn’t mind at all that it rained as we set off for the Barbican.

I'm just happy to be honored by Cumberbatch's presence.

I’m just happy to be honored by Cumberbatch’s presence.

Pictures and recording were strictly forbidden, so I can’t share with you how amazingly epic that stage was. HOLY CRAP. I was just blown away by the grandness of it all. The music they played to transition between scenes had slight undertones of eeriness that really set the right mood. And the acting, of course, was phenomenal by everyone in the cast. So many amazing details about that show I wish I could tell you. But I hear they’re filming it and will show it in select theaters later this year. I highly recommend going!

Afterward, we stuck around outside to see the actors leave. Benedict came out and signed autographs. The only pictures I managed to get were pretty crappy, but it’s proof that I stood only a few feet away from maybe the best actor of our generation!

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I would make a horrible paparazzi.

Faith got him to sign her ticket, but Felicity and I felt claustrophobic in the crowd so we pushed our way out of it and waited for her.

Overall, it was just the best way to end the best trip I’ve ever been on. I’d never really had a moment of “OMG I’m in London” up until that last day. I just couldn’t believe it was already over. I still can’t. I might write one more post about what it was like coming back home and all the life lessons I’ve brought back with me. But for now… It’s nice just to sit back and let all those pleasant feeling wash over me while thanking God for this wonderful life.

And these wonderful friends!

And these wonderful friends!

The Globe, Wax Celebrities, and Modern Theater (London day 15)

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Yay for great days! Today (Tuesday) was loads of fun. It started and ended with theater, with some nerdy, fangirly stuff smushed in the middle. The weather was really cold and drizzy, too, which would’ve been nice if I hadn’t decided that today of all days I was not going to bring my hoodie.

We started off with a tour of the Globe Theater (Theatre?) This is the third Globe; if I remember correctly, the first one burned down after a mishap with a cannon prop. The second one was torn down by the Puritans because they hated fun and happiness. This 3rd one wasn’t built until the 80s.

The 1980s, that is.

The 1980s, that is.

You can tell it’s not old, like the Tower or the Abbey. It had nice floors and laquered walls and modern bathrooms. But it is all built in wood, made to the right specifications, and was put together completely by hand, just like the original.

Even those

Even those “marble” pillars are wood.

Unfortunately, our professor wasn’t able to get us tickets to a play there. I might maybe try to pick some up on my own if I have time (with only three days left, though, it’s getting difficult to squeeze things in). I hear they’re playing Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It.

After our tour, Faith and I went off to Madam Tussaud’s wax museum. We got there a little earlier than our ticket time, so since we were on Baker Street we thought it’d be cool to check out good ol’ 221B.

But Sherlock was currently away practicing for his Hamlet performance.

But Sherlock was currently away practicing for his Hamlet performance.

It was fifteen freaking pounds to get a museum tour, and probably an hour-long queue to get your picture taken in the doorway with that police guy (who is he even supposed to be? Lestrade?) We did go through the gift shop, which had cute memorabilia and souvenirs from both the current BBC show and past depitictions of Holmes.

Next came Madam Tussaud’s. Though extremely busy and touristy, I enjoyed it. It’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to taking selfies with celebrities. There were different themed rooms, including a scare show with live actors that you’re not allowed to touch even though they get literally within inches of your face, a Marvel 4D experience where you basically just sat in a big auditorium watching an Avengers cartoon, and a special, limited-time Star Wars exhibit where I only got one photo before my phone died.

At least two of my top five characters were in it.

At least two of my top five favorite characters were in it.

The actual famous wax figures themselves were cool. Some were pretty popular, like Johnny Depp and George Clooney, and I didn’t feel like waiting in the big crowd around them to get their photos. But I did get pics with or of the cool celebs (some had other people in them because again, waiting and queueing and pushing to the front is not always worth it). Go here for a gallery of my favorites.

We had just enough time after the wax museum to freshen up and eat dinner back at our flat before heading over to the National Theatre for a production of Everyman. I’d never heard of it and knew nothing about the plot or set up or anything. And since they apparently to a very “modern” approach with it, imagine how thrown off I was by everything.

Imagine weird things happening on this stage, and you'll know what I mean.

Imagine weird things happening on this stage, and you’ll know what I mean.

I guess it was about this guy named Everyman who fell off the roof at his birthday party, and his subsequent journey to show God the worth of his life. The production was actually really creative, utilizing a screen to show images and video, music playing loudly through surround sound in some parts, and real rain falling on the stage at the end. The acting was well done, and the visualization of some of the scenes was really creative and powerful. But the story. I couldn’t follow it in some parts, and couldn’t understand what kind of message was supposed to be gained from it. God was played by a woman, of which I admired the boldness of such a casting call, but it seemed more gimmicky than relevant. Apparently this is what “modern” theater is… a far cry from the Importance of Being Earnest, that’s for sure!

I would've rather seen a play from my home boy, Shakespeare.

I would’ve rather seen a play from my home boy, Shakespeare.

Madam Tussaud’s Favorites Gallery

Jelly, Mummies, and Peter Pan (London day 14)

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Monday was a pleasantly surprising day. We started off with another class meeting, where we reflected on our visit to the V&A last week. I didn’t care much for that museum so I didn’t put as much effort into my writing as I probably should have, but you can read it here.

I did love the museum we went to after class yesterday, though: the British Museum.

Home of the Rosetta Stone, which was actually pretty boring, so here's this much cooler Egyptian statue...

Home of the Rosetta Stone, which was actually pretty boring, so here’s this much cooler Egyptian statue…

But hold up for a second. I just want to bring up the fact that Starbucks here has a “jelly coffee” drink that I’m pretty sure you can’t find in the States, and I totally tried it during our lunch break. It was a normal caramel frappuccino with chunks of jelly (more like the consistency of Jell-O) at the bottom. It was weird.

So is this misspelling of my name

So is this misunderstanding of my name. PS: Hope you’re keeping up with the food gallery!

Anyway. The British Museum. When I say I loved it, I mean I LOVED it. I don’t know why, but I felt way more interested in the exhibits and displays, and questions galore sprung up in my head as I wandered around. It was a bit crowded, especially around the popular items like the Rosetta Stone and the mummies. If I lived in London, I would visit this museum often. There were so many rooms, so many things to see, I know I didn’t go through everything. Even my professor, who’s gone several times already, said there are rooms he’s never been in before. It’s just massive and full of history from around the world.

Well, mostly just the Western world...

Well, mostly just the Western world…

Maybe that idea is part of the reason I enjoyed it so much. It is the British Museum, and yet, many of the items come from other parts of the world. Why does England have a right to roughly half of the Parthenon ruins, for example? They claim it’s for conservation efforts, that Greece is too politically unstable to be trusted with them. This is a similar argument made for many other displays. It was fascinating to walk around these sculptures and think about culture and heritage and rights to property.

So which country has their heads...?

So which country has their heads…?

Another thought I had came up in the Egyptian exhibits. These tombs and sculptures and things lay buried in Egypt for a really long time, without being disturbed by the locals… So what gave western archeologists the right to dig them up? Does history belong to everybody, or just the people of that area? How do you draw boarders around cultures? Around history? Why do we have a fascination with knowing about the past?

Another question: did the Egyptians mummify themselves so they'd look better in museums?

Another question: did the Egyptians mummify themselves so they’d look better in museums?

It’s evident, too, that we humans are kind of obsessed with ourselves. Images of the human face and body show up everywhere. But I thought it was interesting that animals were often depicted as well. I tried to get a sense of why certain animals were immortalized alongside their humans in these scultpures, carvings, paintings, and frescos. It seemed that either they were part of every day life, and thus couldn’t escape whatever picture the artist was creating (ex. horses in warfar or sheep in farmlife); they had a religious significance (ex. sacrifice); or they had some other symbolic meaning (ex. lion figures were made for protection on doors and gates).

Maybe I could make a statue of my cats to show future archeologists how much I loved them...

Maybe I could make a statue of my cats to show future archeologists how much I loved them…

Lastly, just before we left, I came across a bust of the Roman goddess Minerva. I don’t know why this little statue made such an impression on me, but I began thinking about what I knew about Greek and Roman dieties and what they were intended to represent. I just found it odd that Minerva was the goddess of wisdom, war, and beauty… three things that really don’t seem to go together. But the more I think about it, the more I wonder if maybe they do. Is there, perhaps, wisdom and beauty in war? War and wisdom in beauty? Beauty and war in wisdom? Or are these 3 mental constructs of humans, since Athena/Minerva was said to be born out of a brain? Interesting things to think about.

I wanted to say "here's a goddess... and a statue," but then I remembered I'm not that vain. ;)

I wanted to say “here’s a goddess… and a statue,” but then I remembered I’m not that vain.😉

After the museum, Faith and I worked out our schedule for the rest of the week, including where to get food. I decided to re-buy a Madame Tussaud’s ticket since that was something I really wanted to see, and there were times that fit into our schedule the next day. But that meant giving up on the Dungeons. When Faith goes later, I’m going to visit the Imperial War Museum instead.

That left us with nothing planned for the evening, so we went out exploring in Hyde Park. This was another favorite moment of mine on the trip. We went on a beautiful walk through a flower garden, spazzed out trying to swat flies away (and subsequently laughed hysterically at each other), and simply enjoyed the scenery.

I think Woodward Park back home needs an upgrade.

I think Woodward Park back home needs an upgrade.

We also saw the Peter Pan statue…

Young at heart.

Young at heart.

… walked through “Italian Fountains…”

Was this stolen like those museum pieces, too?

Was this stolen like those museum pieces, too?

… found this cute little cottage…

What is it's purpose? Tourists will never know.

What is it’s purpose? Tourists will never know.

… peeked through some hedges to see a pet cemetery…

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I don’t want you to cry too hard, so I’ll show this little row and not the full area.

… and walked through Speaker’s Corner to finally end up by the Marble Arch.

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… archES?

There was so much more of the park we didn’t see, like the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, but what we did see was a gorgeous and relaxing break from the hustle, bustle, and smog of the City streets. We ended up walking most of the way back to our flat, as road construction took out the only buses going in that direction. I hate construction, in case you couldn’t tell. Also, smoking. Those are two things about this place I will not miss.

But I’m trying not to think about what I will and won’t miss, because that means thinking about leaving, and with only four days left, that’s a really sad thought.

Not as sad as this guy. They can't move him into a more comfortable position there?

Not as sad as this guy. They can’t move him into a more comfortable position there?

Redemption, KPop, and Fits of Laughter (London day 13)

image Sunday was a fantastic end to an otherwise frustrating weekend. Crazy how good always prevails in the end, huh? Some time during our first week Faith and I took the wrong street trying to find a Pret and ended up passing by the Korean embassy. A sign in the window advertised a Korean Festival in Trafalgar Square on Aug. 9th, and being fans of Korean culture we decided to check it out when the time came. image It ended up being this huge event where the whole of Trafalgar Square was packed with people (the usual crowd of tourists had nothing on . We got there around 2 and were just overwhelmed by the people, the various cultural booths, and the smells of delicious food. A stage was set up right in front of the lion statues and had traditional Korean dancers and musicians performing when we arrived. Lines of people waiting for food snaked through the crowd. We joined a line and maybe forty mintues later got a little dish of yummy bulgogi and rice. We’d later visit a Korean market booth and get aloe juice, pepero, and ramyeon.

Mmm, mashisoyo!

Mmm, 맛있어요!

The biggest treat was listening to KPop music. They first had some cover artists come out on stage and dance to popular KPop songs like Bang Bang Bang, Crazy, and yes even Gangnam Style. Then an actual KPop group, “f(x)” performed a few songs! It was really hot and we were stuck in the middle of a really thick crowd and these girls next to us were screaming very annoyingly… but it was still pretty fun. First KPop concert, in London!

I don't even mind that they're not in my top 3 favorites bands.

I don’t even mind that they’re not in my top 3 favorite bands.

Felicity chose to spend the afternoon in the nearby National Gallery and met up with us afterward. We ate leftover dinner at our flats, but then went out for drinks at a pub. Faith and I went with cider instead of beer this time and were much happier. The three of us sat in a booth at this place called the Hand and Flower, which was a lot more chill than the one we’d gone to before. We reminisced about our trip so far, thought about the things we’d still try to do in our last week, and had several moments of that uncontrollable, teary eyed, don’t-look-at-each-other-or-you-won’t-stop kind of laughter that took away all of the stress. Again, I am so grateful to be sharing this experience with these two! So there’s my short and sweet post about the end of my second week. Only one week left! We’ll be doing a lot as a class again, but there’ll still be plenty of free time for us to do any last minute sightseeing or souvenir shopping. I’m actually really excited about the gifts I’ve already gotten for my family, even if I’m going to wait until Christmas to actually give them. I just hope I have enough luggage space to get them back…

See, KPop makes everything better.

See, KPop makes everything better.

Mistakes, Disappointments, and Not Thinking Things Through (London day 12)

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The last 24 hours have been… difficult. I imagine a bad day was statistically bound to happen at some point during this trip. I’m trying to remain hopeful and optimistic, but sometimes you gotta let the anger, self-deprication, and dejection run their course first.

Saturday morning, Fath, Felicity, and I decided to try our luck getting tickets to Hamlet at the Barbican theater, a production that sold out in record-breaking time last year simply because of Benedict Cumberbatch.

We’d done our research, and the Barbican would release thirty 10 pound tickets every morning for that day’s production. Reports said that eager fans were lining up outside the ticket office in advance, so we got to the theater about 2 1/2 hours before it opened.

Maybe if only the Shakespeare fans were allowed, we'd have a chance...

The people at the front of the line apparently had camped there since the evening before.

The line wasn’t incredibly long, but we weren’t quite close enough to have any luck. We were literally right behind the last person to get a ticket. They had a few returned tickets at full price (upwards of 60 pounds) but we didn’t want to go that badly. We did figure, though, that if we got there an hour or two earlier the next day, that we might have a shot. So we went back to the flat only semi-disappointed with a resolution to get there by 6 am.

Also that morning, I left my map of London on the tube by accident. I loved that thing because it was laminated and sturdy, I’d made marks on all of the well-known locations, and it had a good tube map on the back side that I used pretty much on a daily basis. And… I left it on the seat next to me. That’s exactly how I lost my first iPhone at school not too long ago; you’d think I’d have learned, right?

Anyway, after taking a little nap and doing some laundry, Faith and I then decided to go to the London Dungeons. We’d bought a combo ticket pack through the London Eye to see that, the Dungeons, and Madame Tussaude’s. When we’d gone to the Eye, I had to show my confirmation email to get the ticket voucher for the rest of the attractions.

That I lost, too.

I scoured our room, looking everywhere twice, but to no avail. I’m convinced that it must’ve flown out of my bag at one point. I tried appealing to the London Eye people for a replacement ticket; I had email proof that I bought it, so surely they’d be able to look up my ticket number or something. Nope. So basically I paid 51 pounds to ride the London Eye. I’m still trying to decide if it’s worth it to buy the Dungeons and Tussaude’s tickets separately or not.

Pair the hatred I had for my carelessness and bad luck at that moment with the incredibly frustrating walk back across the Westminster Bridge where everyone and their mothers were either crowded around sleezy street magicians or stopped in the middle of the walkway to take a selfie, and you can imagine how pissed off I was. It took a lot of self-checks and prayers to keep myself from pushing everyone into the road.

We then tried going to Primark, a really cheap British clothing store, to find a nice dress or something to wear to the play the next day (because we were confident we’d get tickets this time!) They were locking the doors right as we got there. Have I ever mentioned that stores and even some restaurants close super early around here? I don’t get it.

How I didn’t melt into a puddle of despair at that moment, the world will never know. We ended up at a nearby H&M and I found a nice dress on sale for 7 pounds. That helped a little. It also helped that Faith and I picked up ciders on the way home and enjoyed them while watching KPop videos.

I’d thought that the next day would be better, especially since we all had a good feeling about these Hamlet tickets. So we woke up 4:30 AM, put on clothes, grabbed our pillows, and set off for the Barbican. We had to use the buses, something we hadn’t yet become comfortable with, because it was too early for the tubes. But Faith had this cool app that guided us, and at about 6 we arrived…

… only to realize, Oh yeah it’s Sunday; there are no shows on Sundays. The doors were locked, there were no people queueing. It’s quite the experience, let me tell you, to realize you didn’t think something through while in a foreign country in the wee hours of the morning in a deserted neighborhood holding a pillow.

And that’s where I’m going to take this. The whole thing was an experience, a learning experience. I know now to not set things on the seat next to me, to keep track of where I place important tickets, and to not let eagerness get in the way of being mindful. I’m still barely an adult. This is only my second time out of the country, the first without my family. So I’m going to have these experiences, but I’m going to learn from them and do better next time.

Plus, I’m in London. I got to see the sunrise in London. And I spent this weekend with two friends I’ve gotten to know so well in just the last two weeks. Faith was great in keeping me calm when I felt like murdering people on the Bridge. Felicity has kept my perspective on the positive side with reminders about how awesome this trip is. And we went through it all together, so now we have like this super special London bond or something that I don’t think three girls could ever replicate anywhere again.

And there you have it, my spectacularly crappy day. It’s already Sunday, so the weekend’s not quite over yet. Fingers crossed that the last plan I have left (hint: it’s Korean related) doesn’t tank, too.

Oh, and PS: We are planning to go back to the Barbican on Friday, our last day. Wish us (better) luck!

This trip's pity party brought to you by delicious cider.

This trip’s pity party brought to you by delicious cider.

Buckingham Palace, Naps, and Fish ‘n’ Chips (London day 11)

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To be honest, not much happened today. Which was actually nice because I think we needed the change of pace. We committed ourselves to touring Buckingham Palace, but the rest of the day we played it by ear. I think we surprised ourselves with how much rest we really needed at the end of this week. At least we’ll be recharged and ready for the plans we have this weekend, as well as the things we’ll be doing during our last week (*tear*).

But I’m sure you’re interested in hearing about Buckingham Palace! The Palace is only open for tours when the Queen is not in residence, usually in the summer. You can tell whether she’s in residence by the flag that flies at the top of the Palace; if it’s the Union Jack she’s absent, if it’s the Royal Standard she’s present. I figured since the Palace only opens select times of the year, it’d be best to take advantage of the opportunity and go this time. Financially, that meant cutting out some other things like Windsor Castle and Kensington Palace, but I think I’m okay with that. After all, I will come back some day…

Maybe as a royal guest?

Maybe as a royal guest?

They were going through the changing of the guard when we arrived, so we only saw a little bit of it through windows on the inside. Our ticket allowed us access to the State Rooms and the exit route took us through some of the grounds. It was very beautiful. I tried to imagine what it’d be like to live there, or to be called there as a guest, but it’s hard to wrap your head around when you’re shuffling along with a hundred other tourists listening to an audio guide.

Some interesting things I learned on the tour:  Buckingham started as a small townhouse that was later added on to and became the center of London. The lighting in the entrance hall is dimmer so the natural light coming from atop the grand staircase causes your eyes to drift upward. The grand staircase itself was designed with shallow steps so it would appear larger and cause you to bounce as you ascended. Some of the largest and most important (whatever that means) royal art collections in Europe are housed in two large rooms that were created by knocking three rooms together. And probably the coolest bit of knowledge was that in one of the rooms, where the Royal Family recieve guests, one of the large wall mirrors is actually a secret passage to the private rooms, so that they can discreetly enter and leave without having to pass through the more common areas. As a monarch, I think I’d be upset if my palaces didn’t have secret passages.

Some of which would need to lead outside for all my midnight adventures.

Some of which would need to lead outside for all my midnight adventures.

We (this is just Faith and me, by the way; Felicity went off to Chatsworth House, aka Pemberly from Pride & Prejudice) then ate lunch in St. James’s Park before returning to our flat. We’d thought about going to the London Dungeons later, but ended up unexpectedly knocking out for like 3 hours. So we instead found a fish n chips place called Kerbisher & Malt for dinner.

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And tried one of the best lemonades I’ve ever had…

I don’t know how many have travelled over to my food gallery, so you should if you haven’t yet (even if you have, I keep updating it, so just go over there anyway). England isn’t exactly renowned for their food. They have the fish n chips, the full English breakfast, and tea. And that’s pretty much it. There’s a lot of Indian food here, due to the large number of Indian immigrants. But I’m not really a fan of curry, so I’ll be passing on that cuisine. I don’t really feel bad for eating other foods like pizza and sandwiches, though, since that’s really all that’s left.

So this might be an amendment to a previous tip, but… Pro Travel Tip #8: Don’t go to a place you could go to at home. This is true for food (like Starbucks, McDonald’s, Whole Foods), clothing stores (like H&M, Urban Outfitters, Claire’s), and other places (like the Apple Store, the Disney Store, or Lush). Understandably you might be desperate for a cerrtain item, like you forgot to pack underwear or something, and it’s easier/cheaper to go somewhere familiar. But as a general rule of thumb, don’t travel half-way around the world only to shop at the same places you shop at back home. It’s just pathetic.

Anyway, I don’t have much else to say for today so I’ll end it here. Tomorrow though… fingers crossed our plans pan out!

And hopefully the weather remains nice to us!

And hopefully the weather remains nice to us!