We arrived in London. How exciting! And I took The Underground for the first time. One of the people in my group had used The Underground before, so he was an old pro. But I had no idea what was going on. I remember thinking, I’m going to have to get a lesson in this. Soon enough, I did, and I also became a pro.
We checked in to our hotel, and decided to go around to see the city. We were quite hungry, and since Zach heard that the best place to get Indian food outside of India is London, we had some Indian food. I, surprisingly, did not get a chance to take a picture of it, but let me tell you, it was some of the best I’ve ever had. I loved it.
We went to Picadilly Circus, which is like London’s Times Square. On a whim, we decided (more accurately, I decided) to go see a play with a good student rush rate. The guys grudgingly came along. The show was called “The 39 Steps,” which is a spoof of a Hitchcock movie. It was hilarious. There are four actors in the cast, and between the four of them, they play 139 characters in the play. It was money well spent. The guys liked it too.
After the show, we got to look around Picadilly Circus for awhile, and that was very cool with their bright advertisement screens and their crowded streets. When we were done with that, we walked down to where Big Ben and Westminster Abbey were. It was quite late by this time, and the river Thames was beautiful. The London Eye (it’s that big Ferris wheel, for those who don’t know about it) and all the other buildings in London were all lit up and magnificent. I never dreamed that I would see Big Ben except in pictures. When I was younger I never thought of myself as a traveler, and I never expected to see London. There it was, however, just being Big Ben, and I was right there next to it. Amazing.
The next day us four went to different parts of the city, and my choice was to go to Westminster Abbey. It was something I always wanted to see, and it was well worth it. There were no pictures allowed inside, but I have some outside shots for you. The inside was incredible, though. I saw the tomb of Handel, the first Queen Elizabeth, a bunch of King Henries, Shakespeare’s memorial, the tomb of Jane Austin (for all you chick-flick-book-lovers), Isaac Newton, and Charles Darwin, among others. It was about a 3-hour experience. Amazing.
After that, we all got together and went to dinner, because we had tickets to AVENUE Q!! This was a musical that I desperately wanted to see in Minneapolis, but I didn’t get tickets. So I jumped at the chance to see it, especially with a discount, which we got. The show was hilarious and wonderful and raunchy and entertaining…exactly what I expected. The only thing that was a little distracting was that every once and a while the actors would slip out of their American accents. Other than that, it was fine.
The next day, my friends left for America. I was quite ready to be on my own. I knew the city, I knew The Underground, I was fine. So I decided to see some things I wanted to see.
Like Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
I don’t know if you know this about me, but I’ve been a huge Shakespeare fan since high school. I love it. So of course I needed to see some Shakespeare while I was in London! And what better place than the Globe? I got cheap standing tickets for As You Like It, which was all I could afford. I was a little put down by that, because I didn’t want to stand for the whole show, probably in the balcony.
But when I got there, I realized that the expensive tickets are in the seats away from the stage, and the cheap standing tickets are right in front of the stage! I grabbed a spot in front and spent the whole show resting my arms on the stage. I could smell the leather of the actors’ costumes as they walked by me. Many of them made eye contact with me. The woman next to me accidentally got spit on by one of them. It was a wonderful experience.
As You Like It went until about 5p.m. I was really excited because—something I forgot to tell you—I got up early that morning to stand in line for tickets to Hamlet, with Jude Law playing the lead. That was in a bigger theatre, of course, and the standing tickets were way in the back. I paid for a standing ticket, but at the last minute they found a seat in the front of the first balcony for the same price, so I took it.
I went for some Chinese take-out before the show. London has its very own China Town, and the food was awesome and cheap, so ate there as much as I could.
Anyway, I went to Hamlet with Jude Law! Now I took a Shakespeare class in high school. One of the sections was based completely on Hamlet, and we ended up reading the original and a abridged version, and we watched the Mel Gibson and the Ethan Hawke Hamlet movies. Needless to say, I know the play pretty well (and I was pretty sick of it).
Jude Law probably gave the best performance as Hamlet that I have ever seen. He was intense and pissed off and just fantastic. See, I never really liked the Mel Gibson version because it was too boring and too non-relatable, given that the movie took place during the time Shakespeare planned it. And the Ethan Hawke version was too contemporary; they lost a lot of meaning and depth because they tried to make it too fashionable. The Jude Law version, however, was (in my eyes) a very perfect medium of the two. The costumes were modern, but simple. The set looked like it had been carved out of stone. And the simplicity of the set and costumes ensured that the story and characters would take over. And Jude Law pulled everyone in during his amazing soliloquies. I was on the edge of my seat that whole time. I took some pictures, even though it wasn’t allowed. J
Jude Law during the famous "to be or not to be" soliloquy. Absolutely brilliant.
The next morning I got up, went to go see the Changing of the Guards in Buckingham Palace (totally cool) and hung around in London for a bit.
Oh, and I flew my kite in Green Park!! That’s the park near Buckingham Palace, by the way. I was excited.
I didn't think my trash was royal enough to go in here.
There's also fine print on the bottom that says, "Oh, and the poop needs to be gold."
Then I stopped at a cheap Indian restaurant, ate like hell, and ran to go catch my chunnel ride to Paris. The chunnel is a train that goes under the English channel, and into Paris in two hours. What it does is cooler than the experience, unfortunately. It’s just a train. I suggest that they should make the tunnel under the English channel out of glass so people can look out at the water—like Underwater Adventures at the Mall of America! Should have looked for a suggestion box.
Anyway, I loved London. The (unLondonlike) food, the accents, Big Ben, and the shows. It was a fantastic time.
On to France!
This was what I thought the London Bridge was, but no.
THIS is the London Bridge. Not a lot to write home about...or a SONG about, for crying out loud.
One day, when Christie and I turn into birds, this is what we'll look like.
An English breakfast. I ate the whole thing.
Of course, the red phone booths. Had to take a picture.
Cute old people.