Expecto Patronum!!!

Trip Start Dec 17, 2010
Trip End Apr 26, 2011

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Friday, February 11, 2011

Is it bad that everything in London made me think of Harry Potter?  

I left for London on Friday night and just got home this morning.  It was an absolute whirlwind of a weekend.  I can't believe how much history I saw.
The first thing I noticed when I got to England was that I, for once, didn't feel guilty about how much English I was speaking.  In Spain, I'm really trying to immerse myself so I feel bad when I go a long time without using Spanish.  However, I quickly discovered that I'm actually better with Spanish than with British.  There were several announcements made in the plane and airports, once in English and then once in Spanish, and I actually understood the Spanish ones better.  That shouldn't have been too surprising because I've always had to turn on subtitles for British movies.  I do love all of the British accents though, and it was especially charming to hear the kids speaking.

I started out Saturday morning at the National Gallery.  I really could have stayed there all weekend.  It was huge and had the best and most famous works of art that I have ever seen in person.  My favorite, Van Gogh's Sunflowers was there.  Also some Michelangelo's, Raphael's, Manet's, Monet's, and Degas'.  Even an absolute illiterate in the world of art, like me, can appreciate names like that.  

The museum is located in Trafalgar's Square which is a pretty cool place in itself.  That day there was an Amnesty International rally in support of Egypt and Palestine, not really my passions, but it was still a pretty cool event to see.  There were also several street performers in the square.  One man passed his whole body through a de-strung tennis racket.  He had to dislocate his shoulder to get it through.  Overall, it was an odd day in Trafalgar's Square, but I wasn't there long.

I then walked to the British museum, another huge building full of more stuff than you could possibly take in.  On the way I, of course, stopped for Starbucks, my first since Valencia.  As I walked, I noticed that every single building in the city looked like it was important and probably famous.  It was exactly what I expected from one of the biggest and most historically significant cities in the world.    

 Both the museum and gallery are free, so I would definitely suggest them if you ever go to London.  I was in the museum for almost two hours and I only saw the section devoted to Asia.  Considering that there's a wing for every continent, I'm sure I didn't see even a fraction of the good stuff. 

Once I was all museumed out, I walked around central London for another hour and saw all of the important stuff.  House of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, The London Eye, and St. James' Park.  I didn't pay to go in anywhere, but everything was impressive enough from the outside and I was running out of time and money.  

By this point I was starving and dying for some of England's national dish.  Not fish and chips!!!  It's been changed to chicken tikka masala and I absolutely approve.  Yum yum yum, but also expensive expensive expensive, as is everything else in London, so Saturday dinner was the only meal I had the whole weekend.  I think it was well earned after all of the walking and touring that I did throughout the day.

Last week we were studying megaliths in my art class and the teacher joked that our homework for the weekend was to visit Stonehenge.  On Sunday, I decided to take her up on that.  Unfortunately, Sunday's weather was horrible.  We rode the bus for 2 1/2 hours out to Stonehenge and then could only bear to be out in the freezing rain for 15 minutes to take pictures before hopping right back on the bus.  It was totally worth it though.  Definitely one of the most impressive things I've ever seen considering that the rocks didn't even come from the area and construction began 5000 years ago.  I'm so impressed with our ancestors.

After the bus ride back to London, I was kind of stuck in a limbo of not being able to go back to my friend's room where I was staying and not wanting to go to the airport yet.  We decided to take the train to King's Cross Station, but access to platforms 9 & 10 was closed for the weekend, so that was a major let down.  I decided to just bite the bullet and get to the airport 10 hours before my flight.  I set up camp with a bunch of other travelers and actually got a pretty good night's sleep considering I was sleeping on a towel and using a backpack for a pillow.  

So that was my first international trip that I've planned completely on my own.  Nothing went horribly wrong, so I guess I owe the church some money.  Now it's time to get back to life as usual, which is still on a beach in Spain, so I guess I can't complain.     

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Uncle David on

That Chicken Masala looks good....
You've inspired me to take Aunt Sandra out for Indian food tonight. She says thank you

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