Monday, June 2, 2008

England Trip Part 1 - London

Get ready for picture overload!

Ok, so I've needed some time to recuperate since my trip so sorry for the delay on posting. I have a million pictures so I'm going to break this into a few posts, so you've been warned! I'm sorry if I overload your computer, but really, I crammed so much into just a few short days, it's amazing! Ok, onto the recap!

I got in at 9:30 am on Thursday morning after flying all night. I had a layover in Halifax, and unfortunately didn't get much sleep, so was pretty dead. Aimee, my friend from High School who I was staying with, met me at the airport and we headed to her "fella's" house in south London. I crashed as soon as we got there. Man jet-lag is such a pain! I seriously didn't feel normal until 4 days into the trip! After a good 2 hour nap, I was ready to get out and see some sights.

We had decided before hand that we should try to see a play on Thursday, since it was a bank holiday which meant more people in London over the weekend, so we first went down to Leischester Square to the discount ticket booths. Unfortunately Les Mis wasn't on sale that weekend because of said bank holiday so instead we got a great deal on tickets to... "Spamalot"! This one has always been on my list, just because I love the movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" so I was actually happy to go, plus it was high on Aimee and John's (Aimee's fella) list. Since most of the day was gone (thanks jet-lag) we walked around the book stores on Charing Cross Road looking for used paperbacks with not a lot of luck. We eventually ended up at Foyle's, a five story mega-store, like Borders and they had newer editions of what I was looking for. Then we met up with John, grabbed a quick bite at McDonald's (don't worry I had better food on the trip) then headed to the theater with you "pick-n-mix" candy (shhh...)!

The "curtian" before the show opened. The stage was great! Very "Python"...

This theater was seriously cool, there were little cherubs along all the balconies. As you can see from the pictures our seats were pretty great. Right in the center about ten rows back. But the seat I wish I had (and which you should all try to get if you have the choice is D1... you might just get to meet the cast, we'll call it a mini role). The show was so much fun, Aimee got a killer rabbit, plus there was even a famous actor in the cast! King Arthur was played by Alan Dale who's in Ugly Betty, the O.C., and aparently some really famous Australian TV show... he was pretty good! Overall, I'm glad I got to see it. Les Mis would have been great, but this was fun, and very British!

We got Chinese food in China Town after the show, then headed home to collapse again, this time for about 8 hours.

My attempt to get up early the next day was not very successful, so by the time we got to our first stop, The Globe Theater, we didn't have time for a tour before I had to run off to meet with people at Camberwell College, one of the schools I'm considering for Grad School. We grabbed some lunch, which included some Banoffi Pie and then I braved the busses to get to the school.

My tour of the school was great and it's made my decision making process even harder! They both have pluses and minuses, but they are pretty much opposites, so we'll have to see which is a better fit, luckily I have a bit of time to do that.

Then it was back to meet Aimee! We had missed the last tour by that time so decided it would have to wait until the next day. We grabbed some pictures and then boarded a boat for a tour of sights from the Thames.

In front of Shakespeare's Globe

From the boat:

London Bridge

Tower Bridge (don't know why I didn't get close to this last time)

The Tower, this inner building used to be the Norman's castle. It's most famously been used as a prison.

From the other side of Tower Bridge

Passing back by the Tower, this is Traitors Gate, where prisoners used to be taken into the prison.

The Globe again.

The London Eye (a 400 ft tall ferris wheel, scary!)

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Did you know that Big Ben is the bell, not the clock?

After our boat tour we walked from the Houses of Parliament up to Buckingham Palace. There's a beautiful park along the walk, I was so glad that the weather was nice for the first few days of my trip!

St. Jame's Park

The Palace with a monument to Queen Victoria

Palace Gaurd

In front of the gates!

It's hard to remember (since a lot of this and the next day had been spent in the same area) but I think this was also the night we ate at Wagamama's for dinner, which on the reccommendation from Aimee was very tasty. We also had some fabulous coconut ice cream for dessert! Yum-O!

We were tired after all that walking so headed home, watched some telly, then crashed again!

The next day we got up bright and early to do the Globe tour! Yay! Finally! It was a really great tour, great museum, and I only wish I could have seen a play! If I'd come a week later I could have seen "A Mid Summer Night's Dream" which is my favorite, so kind of a bummer, but someday... This building is obviously a replica, the original was somewhere in the near vacinity but had burned down only a few years after Shakespeare's death. I learned lots of interesting facts that I hadn't known before, and now of course I want to go read more! I'll spare you the details though as this post is getting long and just get to the pictures...

The Stage and the pit. You can see the decoration on the ceiling and pillars.

More of a view of the audience seating.

After that we headed to Oxford Street for shopping at New Look (great deals!) and then lunch at the Marloborough Head, a true English Pub! I wish I got pictures of the basement where we sat. It had a whole wall of bookshelves (with false spines) which cleverly concealed the doors to the "loos". It was funny to watch people try to find their way. We helped many a poor soul since we were right next to the Men's room... so funny. I had a true English Sunday Roast, with Yorkshire Pudding (yay!), Mashers (mashed potatoes) and Roast Beef. It was delicious!

After that we headed up to the British Library, but first since we came out at King's Cross station we had to make a pilgramage to Platform Nine and Three Quarters of course!! So much fun to push a trolley through the barrier...

Off to the Hogwarts Express!!

Oh, and in other related Harry Potter news, guess who gets to hear J.K. Rowling speak this Thursday at Harvard's Commencement!? You guessed it! I'm sooooo excited!

Ok, back to London... We spent a good chunk of time at the Brit Lib of course. Had to go check out the new Conservation facilities even thought it was Sat. so they weren't open. It was great to see all those treasures again, especially the Jane Austen letters and manuscripts!

So that night we went home to have a Birthday Bash for Aimee's friend Claudia which involved ordering "a curry" (indian take-out to you Yanks) and watching the craziest thing this American's ever seen, Eurovision! And of course cake! Just for a little taste of what the competition looked like this year, check out my favorite of the performances: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Let's just say it was an experience...

On Sunday we packed in the last of the things on my "to-do" list. First we hit Harrod's and saw the "Egyptian Hall" and the "Food Halls". Wow, that is all I can say. Shopping at Harrod's really is an "experience".

At the top of the Egyptian Hall

They even had an opera singer singing live!

We then went on to the Victoria & Albert Museum where we had lunch and then I walked quicly around my favorite exhibit, the Fashion hall, before heading off the the Brittania ward, which is the only singles ward in the UK.

They were having a special exhibit about the Supremes, which looked great, although I didn't see it.

While I was at church the rest of the group went to the Natural History Museum to see a live Buterfly exhibit. I snapped this picture of the great hall while I was waiting for them in the gift shop.

By that time it was getting close to the end of the day. We had just enough time to head home, change, grab some food then walk to the local movie theater to see the new "Indiana Jones" movie! So much fun!

Wow, so that's just the first end of my trip! Whew, is everyone even still with me? I think that might be the longest post I've ever written! So maybe tonight or tomorrow I'll post about the next part which I think might be my favorite! London was great and I'm so glad I was able to stay with Aimee and that she played all weekend with me, but the English country side is GORGEOUS! Just wait, it's gonna be good!

Ok, that's all for now! Check back soon!


Derick & Becky said...

Ahhhh I want to see more! I love your pictures! Some day I want to go to London and now I know who my tour guide should be!!

Miss Alaska (hardly!) said...

I have been looking forward to these pictures since you said you were going! Can't wait to see the rest...

Jordan & Melanie said...

Ok, now I really want to go to England. It looks so pretty. It sounds like you had so much fun. And can I just say how jealous I am of you. I can't believe you get to see J.K Rowling. You will have to tell me about that for sure. :)