Since its been a while, this is going to be a pretty long post. I figured I would post similarly to when I've been gone on trips since I have so many days to catch you up on. The bold-faced type would be the titles of each day (just in case you couldn't figure that one out for yourself).
branching out. surprising, i know
Friday morning we had a group trip to Tower of London. We didn't actually go there as a big giant group because they had passed out our tickets at the Centre and we were all ready to leave at various points that morning. Tara, Kaylee, Hannah and I left at the same time and it wasn't anything hugely spectacular once we got there simply because its in a pretty central part of the city, so we had walked passed it various times. But we were excited to go inside because it has such a significant history. Tower of London is where Lady Jane Grey and Anne Boleyn were executed, among various others. It was pretty cool. The first part we went to was the Crown Jewels. Can you say stinking amazing?? They were spectacular and one the scepter thingy if the First Star of Africa, which is the worlds largest clear cut diamond and its HUGE. Like I don't think I would be able to completely close my hand around it because it's too big. They have all the important Crown Jewels in cases and the little electronic move thingy that they have at some airports to make you walk faster. Or so you don't have to walk at all, you can just stand while the floor carries you along. Anyways, so Kaylee and I went back through the movable walkway dealy three times because it was so amazing. You just don't get to see everything properly if you only go through once. After the Crown Jewels we walked around the grounds, found where the torture rooms were, went through a little history museum type deal that told you about the royals and the tower and found the execution spot. We were (wrongly) told by some of the other people in our group that you couldn't get into the building where Anne Boleyn and Jane Grey are buried, but Amy informed us we most definitely could and Tara and I weren't exactly happy about this news. Though I will get to go back with my parents so I have to make sure I see it then.
Right around the time we were getting ready to leave and find some lunch, it started down pouring so we ran into the gift shop, which is outside of the Tower gates. There was a Subway across the street and we decided that although that wasn't really all that cool because we can get Subway in America, it required very little walking in the rain so we ran across the street and grabbed that. I decided to get something with a little substance rather than my regular old plain ham and cheese and it was quite the success. Basically it was the best Subway I'd ever had. Who knew some vegetables and a variety of meat could make a sandwich so delicious. I've definitely learned to eat things here I wouldn't have ever eaten at home.
After lunch we went to the Imperial War Museum. It was a really interesting museum. They have an entire exhibit on the Holocaust and it was really interesting to see that event from a British perspective. I felt like they were much more respectful and less gruesome than how I learned about it in high school. I really liked it but it wasn't exactly the most uplifting experience. It's pretty sad. After than we went and looked at the World War I and World War II exhibits. There was a Trench War Experience in the World War I exhibit and you get to walk through a recreated trench and it smells like grossness and there are soldiers all around and its dark and there's people 'shooting' at you. It was pretty crazy and kind of scary. Definitely not something I would have wanted to experience for real. They had a similar experience in the World War II exhibit that was the Blitz. They stick you in a bomb shelter while a 'bomb' goes off and then you walk through the ruined streets. It was insane. I can't even imagine what it must have been like to have to live through all of that.
After the museum it was time to meet up with the parents. I walked to their hotel room because it is only about a 20 minute walk from the Centre. It was so great to see them! We went to dinner at this great Indian restaurant and then they came to the Centre and met my friends and my professors. It's so nice having them here!
a day spent on the corner
Saturday morning we went to the Houses of Parliament on a tour. It was pretty cool to see and it kind of felt like I was seeing the White House, even though I've never actually been to the White House, so I wouldn't actually know how that feels. But anyways. So we go through security and they tell us all their crazy rules (like no sitting on the super comfy looking seats that are located everywhere throughout the tour) and give us a badge with our face on it so all the security people know we're legit. The tour guide man was pretty knowledgeable and definitely gave us a good tour. It was interesting because he was talking about Henry VIII, who was one bad dude, but he totally portrayed him in this great light and talked about how brave he was and all this stuff. Even though he broke up the church and killed his wives. I mean I love Henry VIII. He's fascinating. But I've never heard an Englander talk about him in a positive way. I also thought it was interesting because parliament is made up of the House of Commons whose color is green and the House of Lords whose color is red and each one kind of has a different half of the building. So when you're on the House of Commons side all the upholstery and whatnot is green and then as soon as you cross over to the House of Lords side it all switches to red. So yeah, cool tour for sure. Also, I'm not going to lie. I was really tired during this tour, so there were some points where I was falling asleep standing there listening to the guy. I felt bad because he was interesting, but I just struggled to stay away.
After Parliament, I had plans to meet my parents as Westminster. I gave them specific directions as where to meet me, but they forgot the directions and my directions really weren't amazing if you'd never been there before. So I literally stand on the corner for 45 minutes before they finally found me. I was basically a picture prostitute the whole time too. I'm not even sure how many people asked me to take their picture while I was standing there but it was a lot. We went into Westminster and toured that. It was just as great the second time around. It really is a beautiful building and I love seeing all the well known people who are buried there. And this time I found Charles Darwin's grave. Yay! After Westminster we walked around and took pictures of Parliament and the London Eye and whatnot.
After Westminster we were having problems deciding what we were going to do and how to get anywhere because the tubes are always ridiculous on the weekends and we needed a map. So we tried to get Internet and ended up walking a zillion blocks away to get internet at a McDonald's. We decided that lunch would be a great idea so we went over to the Tower of London area because we had plans for later that night in the area. My parents were big fans of the lunch food, but England doesn't really have the most spectacular food to begin with.
After lunch we wandered around until our Jack the Ripper tour started. I wasn't really sure what to expect from this tour. It was a walking tour and tour guide lady was nice and she gave some really interesting facts. But that was about the extent of it. It was full of interesting facts but there wasn't any humor or anything scary. Just a walk from building to building telling us about Jack. So it was enlightening and I learned more about Jack the Ripper than I ever knew before, but it wasn't the most exciting thing ever. It was through a super slummy area of London though. That was sort of interesting to walk through because I hadn't been in the slums of London yet.
After the tour, we came back to the Centre, picked up my friends and one of my professors and his wife and got gelato at our favorite gelato place. It was great as usual and I'm pretty sure my parents enjoyed it. Then it was on to the hotel, where I stayed with them for the night.
God be with you till we meet again
Before we had gone to bed on Saturday, I had figured out how to get to church with the new line closures and found a way that only too us about an hour instead of almost two. Where the heck has that way been the whole time I've been here?!? Craziness. I enjoyed church, as usual. My parents though every was very nice (because they are) and they picked out the crazies (cuz every ward has them. even if they are nice crazies) and they were able to add that to their list of non-home wards they've been too. The closing hymn at sacrament was God Be With You Till We Meet Again, so basically it was really sad. And then leaving at the end was super sad. I've loved every minute with the girls I was able to spend time with at church and I'm going to miss them all so much!!
After church we went back to their hotel to change and what not and then got some food. We were going to go to the Churchill War Rooms, but it was getting late and I didn't think we would have enough time so I ditched them (very sadly and apologetically) to go back to the Centre and finish up my homework and study for my finals. My homework sucked big time but I did finish it.
We also had a fireside last night and everyone told one of their favorite moments of the trip and then we watched a sideshow of pictures. It was really fun, even though there were some teary moments. The professors gave us a little farewell talking to and the boys passed out little notes they had written to all of the girls. Then we sang God Be With You Till We Meet Again and I cried through it...
see ya centre
This morning I got my finals over with. History sucked and I don't even want to know what grade I got on it. But literature was fabulous. It's nice but also weird to not have any homework to do. I actually have a little bit of free time instead of being insanely busy.
After class and some lunch, I packed up everything. It all fit in the suitcases I brought, which is pretty miraculous. And now I'm sitting here blogging because all of my friends are finishing up their art final and my parents are off exploring. Maybe there will be more exciting things to share with you about today later on.