Saturday, June 27, 2015
Class orientation was Saturday morning, which was a lot of administrative stuff that you probably don’t want to hear about. Our final class schedule was announced and we’re going to many amazing places! I can’t wait to share!
Anywho. After orientation we visited Parliament. It’s a little over a mile from where we’re staying and the walk along the Thames was beautiful. I really can’t believe I’m experiencing this. Is it actually real life?!
Close up, Parliament and Big Ben are breathtaking. I mean, honestly, they’re breathtaking from far away too… but standing next to the giant clock and craning your neck up is an experience.
The tour was of the audio variety; we were given headsets and little players to enter the corresponding numbers.
A lovely British woman spoke to me about Westminster Hall where you first enter. It was built in 1097. Now for those of you who don’t like math, THAT’S 918 YEAR AGO. Where I’m from… we don’t have anything like that. The hammer-beam oak roof was constructed in the 14th century and commissioned by Richard II. (Yeah. Shakespeare wrote a play about him. The roof is before Shakespeare.)
At the end of the room (imagine it’s behind you if you were taking the picture above) is a stunning stained glass window.
The next room was St. Stephen’s Hall featuring several mosaics, paintings, and statues.
The following rooms, including the House of Commons and House of Lords, were unable to be photographed. They seem to be a theatrical bunch, though! The traditions they still carry out today, including the slamming of the House of Commons’ door toward the Black Rod, are symbolic. They hold meaning and therefore “re-present” the past.
After Parliament my group walked towards Trafalgar Square to find St Martin-in-the-Fields where there’s a café in the crypt. To our surprise a pride festival was going on! This was very timely since the US just legalized same-sex marriage. We continued our walk back to the South Bank, ate lunch, and returned to the dorms for the LondonAlive tours starting at 3pm.
I ventured on the Literary London tour (surprise, surprise). We visited where Bram Stoker and Charles Dickens worked near the Strand…
…saw Covent Garden where George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion finds Eliza Doolittle. My Fair Lady is based on Shaw’s play..
…and where Virginia Woolf lived with the Bloomsbury Group.
I feel like if you turn any corner in London you’ll find something with some sort of historical significance!
After venturing north to the British Library for a few minutes (they were closing, otherwise I would have stayed for hours in their Treasure Room) I took my first Underground trip from Euston to Waterloo!
On to Day 3!