yes, I went to London on Friday but for some reason, it was not what I had expected. Far too big for my taste, unfortunately. We took the train in, which was wonderful because each friday they have planned trips for us for free! (or perhaps a minimal charge). I wish I'd known this, however, before I set off and bought my BritRail pass because now we've got free trips each weekend and I don't know who wants to go with me anywhere. Updates to come. So far, I know that we are going to Brighton next weekend, Salisbury/Stonehenge, Brasnose (a cottage that I have inevitably spelled incorrectly), perhaps the Globe Theatre....and perhaps something else? I don't know. But they're free!
The tube is a terrible place. My friend Liz said that sometimes they make an announcement that the tube has to stop because someone has just thrown themselves underneath. horrifying. The tube was hot and crowded and we all stood betwixt and between many people who I felt sure would suddenly reach into my pocket and find the phone, camera and train ticket that I had placed there. I kept one arm wound backwards around my backpack because mom prepared me to be robbed and mugged of all my worldly possessions. Of course, this did not happen, because I am a savvy traveler. And I have a wonderful informative mother.
We exited the subway smack dab underneith Big Ben. I would not have known it was him unless someone had mentioned it, because if you look up, you can't see his face:
Westminster was beautiful! What doors this place had Dad, I would have taken photographs except they were not permitted. I resigned myself to the fact that it was okay not to have captured it all on camera because we were not allowed to take photographs anyhow. It's all in my mind and I have fond memories indeed. I do find the burial for people who were so simple and pious in life to be a bit overdone in death, as if they were saving up. I got to see some famous people's graves/memorials though, which was neat. To name a few: Kippling, Yeats, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Handel, QE1, Mary Queen of Scots, Mary Tudor, ect. I was especially interested in Poets Corner, where memorial stones have been placed in memory of many poets and writers. As I usually do when I am touring something historic, I got into my head and imagined as I walked about that I was wearing a long, beautiful gown and attending to my prayers. I know I will never pray or wear a beautiful gown but both of these would have been acceptable back then for me, certainly. The audio guide was quite informative and laced with choral renditions of songs that brought Grampie to mind. Has he ever sung there, I wonder....
It's amazing to think that everything here is so old, because nothing in the states is. I've stood on millions of old, dead people and walked across the same cobblestones as countless famous authors and other such cohorts. History is buzzing inside each stone on this island.
I began to not enjoy London when I exited the Abbey (and therefore my romantic stupor) and found myself quite alone and unable to find anyone in my group. After a moment of curious contemplation and a couple phone calls, and minutes of walking about, I found others again and off we set to the National Museum. We did not have much time, as many of us planned to return to Oxford soon after due to exhaustion, so we were given a mere half hour to glance over everything! I know I shall have to return to soak in each and every painting, but at least I got to see the two paintings I most wanted to see; the Vermeers that Dad and Mom had told me so much about. They were not two I would consider my favorites of his, but none the less, very good pieces of artwork. A trio of french boys asked the curator for "Vech-Meech" (key: pronounce very french-ly) and I smiled to myself; both at the accent and that others wanted to see the same paintings I had wanted to see.
after this it was home again, home again on a very crowded train.
note: I have no idea how to turn these photographs right-side-up so please bear with me.