I found the study abroad office (which was two doors down from Stella McCartney’s home, Paul McCartney’s daughter, and just around the corner from the elementary school that Prince Harry and Prince William attended) and after being told mistakenly that my room was at the top of eight flights of stairs ( up which I then sweatily lugged my luggage) I was redirected to my hotel. I arrived in my room (which I shared with two other girls) where we said groggy hellos, and agreed to enter into pleasantries later and rest our exhausted bodies immediately. After a 5hr blackout nap, we got up and went to dinner with other ifsa-butler students at a pretty little French restaurant called Côte, where I had a succulent herb roasted chicken with French green beans, and for dessert a moist jiggly crème caramel which skipped easily off the spoon into my mouth as I savored every morsel. My roommates, Paige and Natalie (the only two girls going to Bristol with me out of a group of about 25) and I went back to our room and were dead asleep by 9pm.
We woke up nearly 12hrs later and went downstairs for our continental breakfast. Each morning (the past three mornings) I had a rich latte, plain yogurt, Swiss muesli, and a blueberry muffin (that’s a lie, I had a chocolate muffin on the second day, it wasn’t nearly as nice as the blueberry).
We then had a few orientation meetings, were warned about the frequency of petty theft (stay on guard!), and given our tickets for the Wednesday train to Bristol (on which I am currently typing this post). We then took the underground to a restaurant called Wagamama (such a fun name!) where I had a curry with sweet potato fritters and rice.
From Wagamama we went on a walking tour that took us past St. James’s palace (where Henry VIII first slept with Anne Boleyn), walked to Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey (shame we didn’t get to go inside. Also the place where Kate and William were married), and ended in Trafalgar square in front of the National gallery where there is a statue of George Washington which stands on VA soil (the story is here). We then had dinner at a restaurant that was rather unimpressive (we tried to watch the inauguration, but the pop music in the background kept us from hearing anything that was going on). Our dinner consisted of half of a roasted chicken (trying to make up in girth what it lacked for in taste) each and then a rather too peanut buttery cheesecake for dessert.
We then went to see a musical called Spamalot in the West End. It was quite a fun production with very catchy songs. But, the story of King Arthur was rather different from what I had remembered, turns out the Lady of the Lake “made a man” (less like Mulan, more like Moulin Rouge) out of Sir Galahad before she married King Arthur and revealed her true name to be Guinevere. Also, Sir Lancelot turned out to be gay (which I wonder how that will play out later on when he has a fling with Guinevere and destroys the community of the Round Table…) But all in all a very entertaining evening. From there I went back to my hotel room and conked out for the night.
Woke up, made a plan with my roommates, and we ventured forth into London. We went to the Tower of London first, which was fascinating! We got there just in time to catch the Yeoman Warder of “Beefeater” at the beginning of his tour. He was a energetic and jolly man. He told us garish tales of botched and successful decapitations, heads on stakes on London Bridge, love, hate, mysticism, betrayal, and murder. It is still hard to believe all the drama that occurred in a place that now seems so very docile. It is interesting to analyze myself and realize that while visiting a place such as Jerusalem or the Sea of Galilee has left a lasting impact on me, the Tower of London (while also historically significant) did little to spark my awe. But, it was nonetheless very very entertaining. We also visited the crown jewels, and they are so big and ornate they look fake! I guess since I have relatively little familiarity or fascination with fine jewels I don’t quite have the same appreciation for such goods as others. Another funny tiddly bit, the tower used to have a menagerie of exotic animals, and in memory of that time, there were tiny-large statues of baboons, elephants, bears, etc all around.
From there we walked across London Bridge and wandered for about an hour until we found a sandwich place. From there we took the underground to Trafalgar Square and went into the National Portrait Gallery. We spent a few hours looking around at the various eras and representations of famous people. It was very nice to be in out of the cold and have time to wander through the art. One rather odd sculpture was a self-portrait sculpted from the the frozen blood of the artist! It was kept in a case that was specially monitored to keep it in its frozen state. Very creepy!
All in all, London was fantastic. But, I am very glad to be in Bristol now. Blog post about my room, my uni, and all that jazz will be coming soonish. My best to you all! Cheers! Enjoy this tiny snowman I found.