First days in London – 9/10-11/09

Now that I have finally arrived in London, I have been making sure to take note of all the special things that I will have to know: how to use the Underground, neighborhood locations, good restaurants, and what pubs are especially popular (you know, the important things).  Over the past few days, we have done all the touristy things that are required of every London visit, including all the big spots.  Our hotel is in the central city area of Holborn, so we were easily able to walk to many of the more commercial neighborhoods.

On Wednesday night, we only started out a bit later in the evening, so we walked down the Strand to Trafalger Square, peering into the shops that lined the street.  We then continued to Picadilly Circus, which earned its namesake with flurries of activity and people darting from place to place.  The next day, we headed down to Buckingham Palace via The Mall, a pleasant walk along the park leading to the gates of the palace; we barely missed the changing of the guard ceremony for the day, and were only able to catch the end of the guards’ parade into their quarters.  After seeing the palace, we walked south, past 10 Downing Street, to Westminster Abbey.  The Abbey was beautifully designed and built, of course, and its history as a part of the nation and monarchy added deeper layers of tradition behind just the Abbey itself.  After that, we walked over to the London Eye, which looks like a giant Ferris Wheel with walk-around pods instead of chairs.  The pods give a true panoramic view of the city, and we were able to get beautiful pictures of Big Ben and Parliament at sunset over the Thames.  Yes, today was a very cliché tourist/sightseeing day, but it was great to see all of the landmarks that the city has to offer.

Friday was another sightseeing day, taking the Underground to the London Tower to see the Royal grounds as well as the Crown Jewels.  Like many of the other landmarks in London, the reason that these places are so fascinating is the tradition behind them as opposed to the buildings themselves.  The Crown Jewels were stunning, and the sheer brilliance of the Imperial Crown is incredible.  That night, we bought tickets to Avenue Q, an American musical that was appearing on the West End.  If you have a chance to get tickets to this show, I would highly recommend it!  This is my last weekend of (official) summer, so I am planning to do my last bit of relaxing before everything starts up with my program on Monday.  I am obviously very excited to start things up, and will let you know how everything is going!  London pics to come soon…

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