Sunday, March 21, 2010

London Bridge is NOT falling down.

This past weekend I went to London with Dayna and Miranda to visit a friend, Leslie, from grade school. She happened upon my facebook one day, saw I'm in Ireland, messaged me and then we got in touch about visiting! She graciously offered to host us for the weekend and it was soo fun to catch up with her! We arrived Thursday night, got some mixin's for stir fry, drank some wine and caught up on life. Then we walked to her college and got some amazing waffles with ice cream!

Friday Dayna and Miranda took a bus tour, while I opted to have Leslie take me around and show me the cool jams. We were going to take a free walking tour but the tube was ridiculously backed up and we missed it, unfortunately. But we headed to the Tate Britain, which I thoroughly enjoyed. My favorite work was in a large sort of rotunda where the walls were covered with snippets of conversation that the artist had overheard. I can't remember his name, but he was fascinated with light and dark, good and evil, basically any opposites and the phrases and sentences had opposites on other walls in the rotunda. Some of the words were written backwards, too, and some things made no sense, like "from the moment you hear this to the moment you kiss someone with blue eyes" or "tell someone a beautiful truth" with "tell someone a beautiful lie" printed on the opposite wall backwards. Stuff like that. I'm sorry I didn't explain it well but trust me, it was really cool. After that we went back to where the next free tour was supposed to start, ate some sandwiches and then found out the tour started at 1pm, not 2pm. SO I was annoyed I had mixed up the times but we got ice cream and took a double decker bus to the last stop, which happened to be the area where Oliver was being performed. We checked out ticket prices and then Leslie headed home while I went to the Museum of Natural History. I spent a good 2 1/2 hours looking at dinosaurs, mammals, gemstones, sea creatures and other SWEET stuff. I seriously could've spent the whole day wandering around. I get REALLY into museums and like to take my time checking out the scene and reading the plaques (only if I want to and am interested, I don't read every single one just to read it) and I loved all the dinos! And I learned more about the human body than I'd ever learned in any health class (read: never had a proper health class). But it was pretty amazing. Then I headed back to Leslie's apartment, met up with the ladies, mapped out our next day and got Indian at the restaurant around the corner, and it was DELISH! So tasty. Then we hung around the apartment and went to the flat across the hall for some fun and games before everyone went out.

SATURDAY we planned to go to Westminster Abbey for a service at 9am (it was free, as opposed to paying 12 pounds to take a tour) but of COURSE my tube was backed up and their bus was on time. So they got to go and I didn't, but it ain't no thang. I took a tube to Notting Hill to walk around Portobello Market, met them and had fun wandering around the millions of stalls set up. I'm really excited about the ring I got--it's sterling silver with an amber stone. I haggled it down to 10 pounds, woot woot! And I got a pretty summer-y pink paisley scarf. AND of course, a delicious bratwurst with the works and apple strudel. I love walking around markets and poking my head into cute and overpriced boutiques. The girls left a little earlier than I did as they had a "rockstar" walking tour to catch but after I had my fill of the market, I headed to Buckingham Palace to take some pics of me awkwardly standing in front of it with a camera in hand. I walked through Green Park and St. James's Park, and ended up at Westminster Abbey for the Evensong. It was ridiculous and so beautiful inside. And the choir was amazing, of course. It was sort of funny, though, to see all the people at the Evensong. Some to most of them, like myself, were tourists, but a lot of people had no idea what was going on. Luckily I'd been to an Evensong before and church in general, but it was slightly entertaining to watch people hesitate before doing anything or making any moves. So after the service, I was supposed to meet the ladies at Harrods and take tea. Well, OF COURSE the tube was delayed and the most direct line was under construction, so it took me 45 minutes to get through 3 tube stops. I would've walked but had NO idea where I was going, though it probably would've been faster if I had gotten lost on the streets of London. At least I would've seen sunlight..or rain. Whatevs. So EVENTUALLY I got there, ran through the beautiful fine jewelry section as sparkly things danced across my eyeballs, and found them in the "food court" of Harrods, which is must francier than any food hall I've ever seen before. But we sat down for tea and I realized it was all wrong! We were supposed to be the grand tea room on the 4th floor, but as I looked at the time, I realized we wouldn't have enough time for tea AND the Grim Reaper tour we had planned for the evening. So we left Harrods WITHOUT TEA and without looking at the beautiful and way expensive gorgeous Valentino bags, Burberry anything, ridiculous jewelry, and whatever treasures were hidden from my direct line of vision as I walked out slowly and in very bad spirits. Harrods! You've slipped through my fingers again! At least I made it in the building this time, BUT STILL. I suppose a nugget of back story is needed. When mom, dad and I went to England years ago to visit Katie, we drove past Harrods and I begged them to take me inside but we "didn't have enough time" to go in. SO 10 years later I was finally there but still didn't get to look around :( Anyway, we took the tube to the tour, and it was really cool! And creepy and fun! It lasted about 2 hrs and 45 minutes in the rain and darkness. We learned about the Black Plague, Tower of London, Jack the Ripper and Prostitute's Church! It was really interesting and the tour guide was awesome! After the tour, we went back to Leslie's, had dinner and went to a club in Piccadilly called "Shaftesbury." Luckily we got the 5 pound cover rather than 15. Holllla! I loved the music--the beats were siiiiick, yo. And I got a gin and tonic that was more like gin and TOXIC, but it was palatable. We got home in the wee hours of the morning, and I slept like a rock.

TODAY Dayna, Miranda and I headed to the Museum of Childhood. It was full of toys and fun stuff geared towards children, but I liked it even if it was a little bizarre. We even played dress ups and did puppet theatre! Then we took a train to the airport and eventually landed safely in Shannon. Ryanair flights are somewhat crazy, and they reinforce why I hate flying. Every flight I've been on with them has made me fear for my life for about 10 minutes and then feel kind of ok. I can't explain the feeling, but I'm curious to know where their pilots come from. They're just crazy. If you've been on Ryanair, you know exactly what I'm talking about, with the feeling of being pressed down into your seat and feeling like you're on a roller coaster.

Anyhoo, I had a nice weekend, albeit short. I wish we had had more time in London--I felt like 1/3 of my time was spent on the tube or chasing people down to meet up with them. I certainly didn't mind spending most of Friday by myself. It was nice to wander at my own pace and not feel like I was holding anybody back. I might just have to schedule another trip there this semester before I go home to check out Harrods (obvs), the Tower of London (I didn't take a tour because I heard the exhibits were closed down but I wish I had anyway), and the Tate Modern art museum. Phew! Busy busy.

This week I have to read a book, write 3 more papers, and make a portfolio of my volunteer work for my literacy service course before M&D come A WEEK FROM TUESDAY! I can't wait to see them, it'll be so nice to have my family with me!!!! Yay! Ok time to buckle down.


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