So, it wasn’t really foggy as the title of this post suggests, it was more of a cloudy day in London. While some people may have been inclined to complain because it wasn’t sunny for their visit to London, I was actually somewhat excited that I got to experience London the way that Michael Buble sings about it. I was only in London for about 5 hours, but I got to see more than I would have thought possible. I still want to go back and spend some more time there, whether it’s before July or on a completely different trip, but I was very pleased with what I was able to see in such a short amount of time.
There were three thoughts I had almost immediately after exiting Victoria Station and taking in my first sights of London (that weren’t from an airplane or very jet lagged eyes in a taxi). First, the theater that Wicked! on the West End plays in is RIGHT THERE, RIGHT THERE! Literally, it was the first thing I saw when I walked out of the train station. I am going to go see it one weekend, but I was excited enough for now just to be able to see the theater. Second, the Buckingham Palace grounds are RIGHT THERE. They may not have been as close to the train station as the theater, but I was surprised with how short of a distance we had to walk before I was actually able to see some of the iconic London sights without traveling too far. Third, London is very crowded! It took me awhile to get used to the sheer amount of bodies that were moving around on the streets and standing in front of the landmarks. I was somewhat surprised that I felt this way, because I have been to Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, so I thought I knew how busy and crowded large cities could be. However, it felt like there were many more people walking around – or stopping in the middle of the street – in London than there were at some of the busiest times in Times Square New York. That was something I definitely wasn’t expecting.
After I got over the initial shock of the crowded streets, I was ready for a whirlwind sightseeing tour that rivals the speed and efficiency of the contestants on the Amazing Race. In just a short time, I got to see the sights of Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Horse Guards Parade, Big Ben and the Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Downing Street, and the London Eye. All of them were amazing, but there are a few that stood out for one reason or another throughout the day.
Buckingham Palace was the first and the last stop on the London Tour. I loved seeing the building and seeing the flag flying stating that the Queen was in residence, even though I didn’t know that until after the fact. But, I was especially enthralled by the guards. Yep, you know the ones with the red coats and the fuzzy hats that stand still and never crack a smile. I stood and watched the guards, looking for any sign of movement, for quite awhile. One of the guards kept raising his heels off of the ground (caught him!), but I also learned that the guards do get to march every 10 minutes or so, so that they do not get too stiff – although I never quite figured out, even after my research, how they know when to march/signal to his partner that it’s time to march. Another cool thing that happened at Buckingham Palace was that we got to see someone with a police escort and a guard in a Land Rover following them, enter the Palace grounds. We don’t know exactly who it was, but we are pretty sure it was someone important.
Big Ben and the Parliament was another sight that I really enjoyed. As my dad is a big fan of National Lampoon’s European Vacation, I’ve spent my entire life hearing “Look kids, Big Ben, the Parliament!” every single time we circled a roundabout. To actually see Big Ben and the Parliament in person was pretty cool. And you better believe I stood on the street corner and videoed myself saying “Look Dad, Big Ben, the Parliament!” to show to my family.
Finally, I really enjoyed seeing the London Eye. Though I didn’t get a chance to ride it, something that’s still on my bucket list, just seeing it in person is something that I consider to be pretty cool. Obviously, I knew it was “really big” before I saw it, but I don’t think that photographs do its size justice. In fact, I don’t think you can truly understand what “really big” means until you’re standing directly under the Eye and you look up and see the size of the people in the cars that are easily bigger than some public restrooms. In all, I would consider the trip to London a huge success, and I can’t wait for the opportunity to go back again.
This week, I am back to the “real world” as Half Term Break is over. About 2/3 of Year 6 is gone to camp this week, so we are letting the remaining students have a lot of independent research time and are doing some fun learning activities. I am also helping one of the teaching assistants put together some display boards of students’ past work to display in a common area in the school. Hopefully I won’t be too tired of cutting, pasting, photocopying, and being creative by the end of this week.
Until next time,