Tuesday, March 13, 2007

London, England: Fish n Chips and Minding the Gap




My long England started on Thursday nite where we took a plane at 10 pm from Seville to Stanford, England. From there we took a bus to London, about a two hour ride. We slept at my roommate´s friend´s apartment and then in the morning went to check in at our hostal. Thankfully, our hostal offered free breakfast, which saved us some money in a country where our money is not worth all that much. The exchange rate right now is about 2 U.S. dollars for one pound.

That Friday, we checked out the Science Museum, which was a good reminder of what I´ll be going back to in the Fall! Afterwards, we got some fish and chips for lunch, which were very tasty and wrapped in a newspaper like wrapping. Then we met up with my roommate´s friend to travel to Windsor Castle, which is about a half hour away from central London. We bought our tube passes and headed to the castle where the Queen was actually present, although we didn´t catch sight of her. The castle had the official guards and we toured the various rooms that are used by the royalty and special guests. The furniture was extravagant and the details of each room were different and very intricate. There were royal portraits, weapons, busts, and lots of history contained in those rooms.

That nite we ate quickly at a restaurant and then headed off for the nitetime Jack the Ripper tour. The guide was very knowledgable about the facts and myths surrounding this horrible case that has left it´s infamous mark on London´s dark streets.

Our hostel was a fairly good deal with a free breakfast consisting of cereal, toast, and coffee and a towal to use for showers. The springs on the bed were quite noticable when layed upon, but what can you expect.

On Saturday, we started our day out the Portabella market, which seems to stretch for infinity along both sides of the road. They sold all sorts of things such as clothes, stamps, touristy tshirts, necklaces, cricket balls, antiques, and you name it you could probably find it.

We walked around for a bit, crossing the Millenium Bridge and checking out the Shakespeare Globe Theater. We didn´t see a play there but Clara, my roommate, got the idea to see this one show in the Picadilly are called "The 39 Steps." She had heard that it was a great play and we only had a half hour to get there so we booked it and ran to the tube station and when we got there, we had missed the first ten minutes which was good because we were able to buy discounted tickets which were less than half the original price. Plus the usher filled us in on what we had missed and was a very good story teller.
Here´s a brief synopsis found online:
"Richard Hannay is a Canadian visitor to London. At the end of "Mr Memory"'s show in a music hall, he meets Annabella Smith who is running away from secret agents. He accepts to hide her in his flat, but in the night she is murdered. Fearing he could be accused on the girl's murder, Hannay goes on the run to break the spy ring."

This play is based on an Alfred Hitchcock original. It only consisted of four actors who played the roles of many characters, and sometimes the one actor on the stage would change characters right there. It was to say the least, humerous and well staged. I really enjoyed seeing it and I was glad I was able to get to a play as my other friends were going to see Caberet that same nite and I had decided not to go.

We also checked out Chinatown in London which was pretty authentic.
While the girls were at Caberet, I walked around the bustling streets of London and checked out the many, many shops that lined the streets (I could only afford to window shop however).

That next morning I went to the Brompton Oratory where they held a Tridentene Mass at nine in the morning. The church was spectacular in it´s size and beauty. The Mass was very reverent and as usual, reminded me of home :) Afterwards, I went to the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace where they put on a very good show. There was a band, people on horses, and of course, the fuzzy hatted guards who aren´t supposed to smile. However, if you look at my pictures, you´ll see I caught one smiling! He must be a newbie of the pack. There were so many people there lining the streets and taking pictures. It was quite a production.

After that, I went to check out St. Thomas´ hospital and the Florence Nightingale Musuem. Learning about Florence, I found in her almost a kindred spirit. She helped many people in her development of nursing and wrote books on a variety of subjects.

Then I went by the riverside to take pictures, and I went a little snap happy there as you will see. The view was just perfect and the buildings all compliment eachother so well.
I also checked out the Natural History Musuem. The architecture was breath taking but the parts that I had time to see left a bit to be desired. A bit too much depth into the fact that I may be related to a monkey or chimp or whatnot. But I did read a very interesting display for about half an hour about the power of plants. I know, it doesn´t sound all that interesting but I enjoyed it!

Our last day there, Monday, some of us went to the National Gallery, which contained some of the greatest paintings in the world. I saw Picasso, Goya, Velasquez, Murillo, Monet, Davinci, Michalangelo, and so many beautiful paintings that would inspire anyone to pick up a brush right then and there.

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