March 18, 2010

Streets Where the Riches of Ages are Sold...

Saturday night we mapped out all of the big things we wanted to see so Sunday morning we were ready to take on London! And Sunday turned out to be the perfect day for some sightseeing!

We started our morning by making some PB&J sandwiches for the road so we wouldn't have to buy lunch - typical college kids trying to save a few bucks in a super expensive city! Then we walked down the street to Portobello Road! Before the trip, I didn't realize that anyone else in my generation had seen "Bedknobs and Broomsticks". But lo and behold, two other chicas in my group have seen it and love it as much as I do! So we followed the signs and asked for a few directions (have I mentioned I love that they speak English? it makes everything much easier!) and found ourselves at the top of the road!

The street was lined with little shops and vendor stands. We stuck to the antique part of the road but it went on forever and ever after that. I bought a few cool trinkets, mostly just to say that I bought them on Portobello Road!

After some shopping and eating (oops, guess we'll have to save the sandwiches...), we hopped back on the Underground to see the Tower of London, where are the beautiful jewels and crazy torture devices are located. Along the way we crossed Tower Bridge and ate some sugary peanuts (can you see a theme with food?). I love how the modern architecture can be found right next to all the really old and historical buildings!

Tower Bridge! How do you like the hat? It was a Portobello Road purchase!

The Tower of London was awesome! We got to see the Jewel House but, unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take any pictures. I took a picture of a sign on the wall before heading into the vault and this vulture-esque security woman called me over and made me delete the picture in front of her and watched me put my camera away! The British take their royal family very seriously! We also saw Bloody Tower, where they keep a few of the torture devices they used for the very worst criminals.

We stopped and chatted with a really nice Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London (aka Beefeater). He told us a bunch of stuff about the Tower and Beefeaters in general.

-The letters on their coats, E II R, stand for Elizabeth Regina II. The R is always there because it stands for Regina for a Queen and Rex for a King. But the first initial and the Roman numeral change depending on the monarch at the time.

-In order to become a Beefeater, you must have retired from the British military with at least 22 years experience, receive the Long Service and Good Conduct medal, and submit an application. Once their application is accepted, they must attend a series of interviews and presentations before being admitted. It is a very prestigious position - there are only 35 Beefeaters at a time. The one we talked to was only the 336th Beefeater ever!

-All the Beefeaters live within the Tower of London with their families. Our new friend told us that the teenagers living in the Tower are very popular at their respective schools because everyone wants to party in the Tower of London! But he admits that it is really difficult to have a pizza delivered :)

We also had a conversation with this guard in front of the Jewel House.
Valerie: Ok, don't move! I want to take your picture!
Guard: Don't make me laugh!
Rebecca: Are you allowed to talk?!
Guard: Nope.
Rebecca: Want to get some drinks with us after your shift?
Guard: I get off at 4.

We wrapped up our convo and set out towards the Eye. Along the way, we made sure to see a bunch of cool stuff. One of the first things along the way was the London Bridge. For some reason, we all thought the Tower Bridge was the London Bridge so we were a bit disappointed when we saw the real thing. But it was a gorgeous day so we didn't let it slow us down!

Millennium Bridge from the last Harry Potter book! There are some ridiculous pictures of us pretending like the bridge is being torn apart by Deatheaters but you'll have to wait to see them!

After a 45-minute walk, we finally made it to the Eye! Who would ever think of building a giant ferris wheel on a river as historic as the River Thames? He or she was obviously a genius because this thing was so awesome! We got in our pod right as the sun was setting over Buckingham Palace and the rest of Central London!

Each pod holds about 25 people with enough room to walk around and see all the sweet views. It doesn't stop to let people on and off - you just kind of hop on as it moves. And the views were incredible. The timing was absolutely perfect, I would definitely advise everyone to go around sunset!

After our 30-minute ride, we popped into a cafe close by and finally ate our (now kind of mushy) PB&J sandwiches and treated ourselves to ice cream and coffee after our long walk :) Then it was on to our next destination: King's Cross Station to see the legendary Platform 9 3/4!

We're getting warmer...


Burning hot! But after running (literally) around the station for a good 10 minutes, a nice security guard pinned us as HP-enthusiasts and pointed us in the right direction.

Unfortunately, none of us made it through. And even though I know it's just a book, I was a little heartbroken that I couldn't make it through the barrier to see the Hogwarts Express. Ok, maybe I was a lot heartbroken. But even the 2 chicos in our group who haven't read the books got caught up in the excitement of it and posed for some silly pictures like this one.

After such a long day, we were ready to crash. We hung out in the hostel and packed up to leave bright and early Monday morning. I'm so glad we got to see almost everything we wanted to see and it was even better that I had the company of some great friends! We started off the morning right with some telephone booth pictures to wrap up our tour of jolly London. Thank goodness for nice people who speak English! I can't get over how wonderful it was to be able to communicate with other people without having to work out my brain.

And even though we got to see so much, there's still so much more to see there! There were so many museums and landmarks that I would have loved to see if we had another week there but you can only do so much in 3 days. So if anyone reading this out there is planning a trip in the near future and would like some company, I'm your girl! I also plan to attend the 2012 Olympics to watch a certain sister of mine dominate the soccer pitch :)

I'm pretty sure London will be my last big adventure outside of excursions through our study abroad office. I decided to hang out in Malaga for Semana Santa and see more of this beautiful city. But I'm also planning some daytrips so stay tuned for some awesome Andalucian culture!

I love you all and I hope everyone is safe and happy! See ya in 27 days :)


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Anonymous said...

Love your 9-3/4 pic, what a memory! How many people do you think actually smack into the wall??? Glad to see you're having such a wonderful time. Hopefully it'll be warm again here by the time you come home. Can u say freaky weather!?! Kayte's whining about it daily. We love you and can't wait to hear all about the trip when you return. Love, Miss Shu :)

Chris said...

M, I love (LOVE) the picture of you riding the Eye with London in the background. It's beautiful.

And just when I'm banging my head against the wall for being so old because you are a grown up, you throw some HP in (sounding like a kid) to make me feel better.


Have fun and stay safe!