Saturday, September 11, 2010

London Calling

I am back from London after a day of (mostly) fun. After all of us Vines people followed Graham to the bus station, we boarded the double decker bus and headed into the city. It's about a 90 minute ride in and I think I slept at least an hour of it. We got off at the Marble Arch where we met Simon and thus began our day.

It all started with a tour of some of London's poshest neighborhoods. You know... the neighborhoods where you're paying more for the name of the street than the stuff in the house. It was all very beautiful though. We proceeded from there to the Royal areas of the city, going through one of the royal parks and walking past Buckingham Palace. No, I did not meet anyone royal while there, nor did I witness the changing of the guard. We walked through another park at this point, making our way toward Trafalgar Square and seeing various sites along the way. We arrived in Trafalgar Square where the ultimate plan was that everyone would head into the National Gallery. Many of us, however, decided that it was time for lunch and headed to Pret a Manger. Let me just say that my sandwich was good but my yogurt was amazing. I could write a sonnet to this yogurt. It had shredded apples, pomegranate, cranberries, pistachios, and many delicious things in it. I want it...

After a leisurely lunch, Tyler and I had a scant fifteen minutes before we were to be meeting the group to head off to the underground. We stood outside, looking at the fountain and talking about... Methodism. Yes, you read correctly. We talked about John Wesley and our opinions on the United Methodist Church of today. I suppose this is what happens when you put two people who have grown up Methodist together.

We met the group and then proceeded to the Underground. We got out at the station nearest the Monument of the Great Fire of London. For the price of £2, I was afforded the privilege of climbing said monument. Basically, you go in and go up 200 feet (311 steps) of a spiral staircase. Graham was so kind as to remind me of my unadulterated hatred of spiral staircases as we were going up. Just when you think you'll never make it to the top, you come out onto the observation deck. Wow. The view was amazing. I lasted about five minutes out there before deciding me (and my stomach) were better served on the ground. Therefore, down the narrow spiral staircase I went and for my troubles, I was granted a certificate, proclaiming that I had, in fact, mounted the 311 steps. Whew.

Simon basically took us on a tour of the Great Fire of London and we wound our way very slowly toward St. Paul's Cathedral for Evensong. On the way, we went by the Tower of London (although we did not go inside). Once at St. Paul's, I was among the lucky few who scored a seat in the Chancel (choir loft). It was really cool. They had a men/boys choir. I will confess, however, that one of the soloists had some pitch issues which I could hear. Oh being a music major...

After Evensong, we went down to the Thames River Festival for dinner. To do so, we walked across the Millenium Bridge. Tyler and I wandered down the way to the food stalls. I purchased a coconut which the gentleman running the stall cut open for me and handed me with a straw. I drank all the water and thoroughly enjoyed it. I then made Tyler hold it while I got a sandwich from the Venezuelan food stall. We wandered down a ways, stopping outside the Globe Theatre (!!!) and meeting a few people for the group. At this point, I had my hands inside the coconut, tearing out the flesh to eat it. I will say, fresh coconut tastes very different from dry shredded coconut.

At 19.15, we headed back over the bridge, meeting Graham and John on the way and took some beautiful pictures of the sunset over the River Thames. The rest of the night was all Underground, Bus rides, and chasing Graham like ducklings trailing their parent. Life is good.

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