I have now been in London for a full week (well, actually 10 days, but whatever). I went to all of my classes once. I explored the city some. It really is always an adventure.
I finally feel like I’m not so jet-lagged (and by that I mean, I feel no more tired than is standard for me). I finally stopped eating a path through everything (if you didn’t know, I was eating and never really felt full; my theory was that eating was my body’s way of dealing with jet-lag). I’m finally getting comfortable with the city in that I know where I live and where the basics are relative to that.
I’m still adjusting to living and sharing my space with 5 other girls. I’m still adjusting to how early it gets dark. I’m still adjusting to texting with that little bitty phone.
But, even with all that adjusting still going on, it’s about time that we start going on adventures.
Thursday night, Lisa, Zac, Adam and I went out to take some pictures of London at night. Some of our other friends took some really nice ones and we wanted to try that. And lemme tell you, London is beautiful at night.
So we went all over Westminster, essentially. We walked around for a while. We started near Jubilee Gardens and ended up getting on the Victoria Underground Station. And of course it was cold, because I’ve been warm enough in just my jacket. Of course, being out on a bridge over the Thames is much windier than you’d expect. And the wind here is never a warm breeze; it’s a frigid gust. And it cuts through whatever clothes you chose to wear. So, there was that. (And you’d think I would learn: gonna be outside for long periods, wear thermals. WRONG. You’ll see.) And once we got to Victoria station, the most direct route home was closed. So, we finally figured out a roundabout way back and watched a movie and called it a night.
Friday, we spent part of the afternoon in Covent Gardens. We watched a street performer. He was pretty funny and totally not politically correct, which made it all the better. After we watched him, we walked around all the cute little shops. On our way out, the boys took pictures with a floating Yoda. On our way home, we stopped at the grocery store and picked up some stuff so I could make the boys dinner. I made pasta (and by made, I mean I opened the jar and put sauce in the pan and boiled water and cooked the pasta and felt like a terrible Italian). But, nonetheless, I cooked them dinner, watched a movie, and called it a night.
Yesterday, we spent the day out of the city. Our first stop was Dover (of course as soon as we got off the bus, it was freezing, and guess who wasn’t wearing her thermals, again?). We went to see the castle there (walking from the parking lot to the castle was killer because of that frigid wind I was telling you about). This castle was used by King Richard the Lion Heart, among others. One of the workers explained to us that Richard hated England and didn’t want anything to do with it. He was quoted as having said that he would sell London if he could find someone willing to buy it.
After doing a tour of the castle and climbing to the roof of the castle, we went on a guided tour of the secret tunnels. These tunnels were used during World War II as a headquarters for the English Navy, Army and Air Force. These tunnels were bomb proofed. In addition, this is one of the places to which they evacuated the French and English troops when they were retreating from the Nazis. In the battle for the last stronghold in France, they were working to evacuate people and they expected that they wouldn’t be able to evacuate more than 45,000 troops; in reality, they evacuated something like 200,000 or 300,000 people.
After our tour, we took our bus to Canterbury. Once we got there we had a hot lunch, which was amazing (wraps with mozzarella, chicken, sun dried tomatoes, and pesto). After a quick bite and ducking into a few small shops to look around, we went on a tour of Canterbury Cathedral.
It is the oldest Anglican cathedral. This was the “headquarters” of the English conversion from pagan religions to Christianity. The Christian queen who lived here convinced her pagan husband to show the missionaries hospitality and when they came he was converted. He gave them this land in thanksgiving for his conversion and eventually a monastery and cathedral were built on the grounds. The oldest parts of the cathedral are almost 1000 years old and the newest parts are over 500 years old.
In addition, Thomas Becket was killed here. He was an archbishop. He was killed by some knights who believed the king wanted him dead. When he was killed, a shrine devoted to him and pilgrims from all over the world came to pray at his shrine.
After our tour, we grabbed some hot drinks (because it was still pretty darn cold) and went back for Evensong. This was a special Evensong, as it was the first time an all girl’s choir performed since the 1100’s. After that, we walked all the way back in the cold and got on our bus. It should have been about an hour and a half or two hour drive, and they expected that we would be home around 8. As soon as we hit London, we also hit wall-to-wall traffic. After sitting in traffic for almost an hour and moving a few blocks, the bus driver told us we could get off and walk to an Underground station and take the tube home. We got off the bus and it was still freezing but we walked, about 12 of us to the tube station. There, we took a tube one stop, walked about 15 minutes, and finally found the right platform (it’s like 3 stations all connected so you can get on various lines, but it makes for quite a hike from one end to other.
When we got on the right platform, we got on the train and headed home. The walk from the station wasn’t bad, but it was after 10 before we got home and then we still needed to eat.
It was a long day, and, as always, an adventure.