eventually we found our place on high end road. thank goodness. we walked around and found a pub to eat dinner at and watch some football (soccer). it was great. we stayed away from the city, next time i would change that.
day 5- this morning we got off to an early start. we found a closer underground stop and took that to hyde park and the marble arch. here we got on a double decker bus and took the city tour. i never realized that london was so spread out. i sat on the top for a while. it was FREEZING! finally i just couldn't take the cold anymore and the annoying russian lady who kept standing up and blocking everything so i went downstairs to join the parentals. boring! you couldn't see anything. i don't know why people would sit down there! defeats the whole purpose.
anyways, we looped around again and stopped at the tower of london! this was one of my favorite experiences. i had just developed an interesting in king henry viii and all the drama that unfolded with him and his wives. there was so much history there. the be-headings of anne boleyn, lady jane grey, and the mystery behind the two missing princes. not to mention elizabeth and mary (bloody mary) were prisoners there too. sir thomas moore and so many others. it was just fascinating. i ate it all up.
then there were the crown jewels. they were breath taking. and the tower itself is over a thousand years old. AMAZING! i bought a book to help satisfy my new intrigue. its called elizabeth and mary. its about elizabeth and mary queen of scotts and there whole rivalry which end up in mary's death. i was just blown away.
other sites: london bridge, the london eye, kensington palace, st paul's cathedral, westminster abby, houses of parliament, big ben, the aquarium, tower hill, marble arch, west end theater district, soho, etc.
later that day we hit harrods to visit tiffanys to see if i could get my necklace fixed and to see if there was anything here that we didn't have at home. nada. we went to the ice cream parlor and the candy store.
after we got back on the bus and completed the tour of the city. we walked oxford street that night and did some shopping at the department stores and souvenir stores. didn't find a lot considering the pound was two to one us dollar. i had a hard time parting with that kind of money for things that i could find at home.
day 6- today holds my favorite experience from my trip. but i'll get to that later.
we walked from the underground to buckingham palace today. no changing of the guard today. but the palace itself was exquisite. there was a small guard that passed through the square on horse back at the time that they would normally change the guard. however, they only do it every other day during the year and then everyday during the summer. the queen was residing there, hence the flag. once again it was too cold to stand out there to long to we looked for a place to walk around inside.
westminster abbey was the answer. we spent a few hours walking through the abbey looking at all the tombs, monuments, and art through out the abbey. this experience was in the top three for me. we saw tombs of the people we had learned about at the tower. we saw tombs of henry vii and elizabeth, mary tudor (bloody mary), mary queen of scotts, darwin, and edward the confessor to name a few. memorials to newton, and some of my favorite authors. one of my favorites was the poets corner with jane austen, the bronte sisters, geoffery chaucer, tennyson, dickens, shakespeare, and handel! wow. yes....wow.
then there was the coronation chair. it has been used at all the coronations since 1308. 1308!
LES MISERABLES. after that we jumped back on the underground to picadilly circus to buy tickets to a show. it was supposed to be a surprise for my birthday from my parents, but my mom couldn't keep it from me. we went and saw.... les miserables! that was my favorite part of this trip! hands down one of the best experiences of my life. the performance was stupendous! i cried. i had seen phantom when i was younger and had always wanted to see les mis! finally! we snagged some great seats for that nights performance. it is performed at the queen's theater in the west end.
the music. my mouth just hung open as drew sarich, who played jean valjean, hit the note at the end of who am i... the line "who am i.... 2-4-6-0-1." the note was just so powerful and rich. then there was i dreamed a dream sung by fantine, joanna ampil. the lines:
i shed a tear. yes it is true. and again at the end. of course i could care less for the songs like master of the house and the prostitutes singing their song. the lesson of change and being that change you want to see in the world was there. and i thought of president hinckely and his love for bring him home. i absolutely LOVED it! and who knows maybe i'll have to make a special trip out to NY during the 6 month limited engagement on broadway to see it again!
"He filled my days with endless wonder...
...But he was gone when autumn came
And still I dream he'll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather"
before the show we ventured out into soho and china town... we had traditional chinese food for dinner and walked around the shops before heading to the theather.... i fell asleep that night humming bring him home...
day 7- was kind of a blah day. by this time i was way ready to get back to the us. i wanted to sleep in my own bed and just be able to sit for a while and not feel like i'm wasting time or money because i'm abroad. i was ready to just take a break and sit and read a book for hours and not feel guilty. i was homesick.
today's stops were the british museum, regent street, hamleys, the london eye, and more shopping. my favorite part of the museum were the exhibits about egypt and mummies. facsinating. hamleys is one of the largest toy stores. it is the largest in london. there were 5 floors of toys. i walked around and picked out all the toys i used to play with as a kid. and i was glad to see that somewhere in the world they still made some of them. i got a paddinton bear and a book from my mom there. apparently its supposed to be for my children who, by the way, are still waiting patiently in heave for the mom to get a clue. and i also bought a star (yes a real star in the night sky) for my students. it came with a cute blue stuffed dragon. we have yet to name our star.
the london eye. this was a sight that everyone must see. i was a little freaked out at first, but it was well worth it. the views of the city were sensational. too bad it wasn't a totally clear day when we went. but i got some good pictures of the city.
by the time we were done getting all the "stuff" for our friends and family here i was ready to just get on a plane and come home.
day 8- woke up early to finish packing and get ready to venture home. took an hour cab ride to gatwick airport. the underground and other trains weren't such a good idea with the luggage situation which we learned on the way in from heathrow. the cab ride took about an hour. i got sick in the car. not sure if it was driving on the other side of the road, lack of circulating air, or the fact that i was way dehydrated. maybe a combo. all i know is when we got to the airport my heart jumped.
the flight home wasn't as high tech as on the way in. no touch screens and guess what... no people. our flight was almost empty. i had a whoel row to myself and stretched out for the journey home. watched national treasure two (again), enchanted, and sort of watched the water horse. read a lot. chatted with my dad about life. once again, no sleeping.
on my flight were two of my professors from byu. that was a little weird. they were from the pre-school at byu. random seeing as byu was still in session. small world i guess.
i finally got home after 23 hours of no sleep and crashed. got up the next day and went back to work. and let me tell you... still recovering and its been six days...i'll post more pictures as i get them from my parents. there are links on the right up at the top for more pictures!
the united kingdom- i'd do it again. only this time i'd explore the countryside more and things outside of london. ooooo and i'd rent a car for a day just to drive around.