Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

12.14.2010

Mikaela Sees, Smells, and "Savours" London

We had the rest of our trip to tour England, and how captivating that country is! We introduced ourselves to the bus system (never did have much success with that) and the Tube (never led us astray once). Of course, all the classic sights and nostalgic experiences tantalized and beckoned us--we walked the mere ten minutes from our hotel to Buckingham Palace and watched the changing of the guard, complete with a marching band and a twenty minute concert. From there, painfully cold, we strolled down the Royal Mall, with the Green Park on one side, and St. James's Palace (the senior royal residence) on the other. No. 10 Downing Street, the London Bridge (crossed while singing the nursery rhyme at the top of our lungs, of course), and tea at a little shop just across the street from the giant Ferris Wheel known as the London Eye: so many things in just one day!

We also managed to tour the Tower of London under the capable expertise of a yeoman or "beefeater" (the caretakers of the Tower), a thousand year-old fortress most famously used to execute enemies of the crown (including Lady Jane Grey and Anne Boleyn) and protect the royal jewels. Mama and I quite poo-poohed the famous gems, however. Great big gaudy things, they! Who would wear a diamond the size of an egg? (No sour grapes here...)

The day concluded with an opportunity to gape at the Parliament building (by far the most fantastic structure I saw), Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey. We enjoyed an exquisite service at the Abbey inside the exquisite yet sadly vacant cavern. Another royal dinner--does it get more English than Welsh Lamb Rack with minted onion jelly?

Thursday we moved into a bed and breakfast run by a lovely old woman who exclaimed over the size of our suitcases and offered up her piano for me to try anytime (and was I going to concertize, she wondered? Concertizing is such a tough road, she speculated, but so definitely worth it). That day we got to enjoy Picadilly Circus (as in "square" not carnival), with its bustling shops, beautiful center statue, and gorgeous Narnian decorations. St. Paul's Cathedral loomed before us in the sunset with marble everything and a rich history beginning in the 17th century--of course, I would be dishonest if I didn't admit that most interesting to us was that the church served as the location of the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana and the old woman who sings in Mary Poppins, "Feed the birds...tuppence a bag."

I "geeked" out at the British National Museum. The Rosetta Stone? THE Rosetta Stone? In front of me? In front of me! And so it went...statues from the Parthenon...statues of Egyptian kings from the times of Moses (which I touched)...a Cat of Bubastes...and engravings from an Assyrian Palace. We walked through the snow to find fish and chips (with the ever-present, apparently-essential peas--all British fish and chips seem to be accompanied with peas) to end the night.





We had an experience of a lifetime awaiting us the next morning: the bus tour I had reserved was thrilling, with a jaunt through Runnymede (where the Magna Carta was signed), a tour of Windsor Castle (including state apartments rarely opened to the public but often used by the queen and her guests), picturesque Stonehenge with snow drifts and ravens for props, Beef Wellington in the perfectly antique town of Lacock (where Pride and Prejudice was filmed!) at a 14th century pub, and a memorable stop in Bath (complete with a book shop with the "new" (19th century on) books upstairs, and the "old" books downstairs.

One early-morning, two hour train ride through the Chunnel brought us to Paris the next day for a magical 12 hours with Jen, a friend who is living as a missionary in France with her family. The snow came down fast, furious, and freezing that day, but we still managed to get up to the third level of the Eiffel Tower, wonder at the beautiful Notre Dame, and gawk at the excavations beneath. A two-hour lunch in the most charming cafe (the longer the meal, the better the service), shopping, hazelnut-chocolate crepes, Champs-Élysées, and the Arc de Triomphe completed our whirlwind, memorable day in Paris. Thank you, Jen!

As you might imagine, Mama and I were exhausted the next morning, but also eager to experience all our last day in London had to offer. We stopped by Handel's house on 25 Brook Street, where he lived for almost two decades, and where he composed The Messiah. Benjamin Franklin's house--the only existing residence of this man--offered an entrancing and dramatic live presentation about the man, his work, and his relationships while in London. The National Art Gallery was a quick stop, with time to gaze at beauties by da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo.

We spent our last night in London in Covent Garden, strolling the cobblestone streets, enjoying a charming Italian restaurant, and making memories of the scents*, the accents, the people--London.



*Confession Time: In the passport line on our very first day in London, I caught a whiff of a distinctive cologne on a man behind me. From that day on, I smelled this scent positively everywhere--fresh citrus, with hints of cloves, sandalwood, and geraniums. It wasn't until the last night that I found it in a drugstore--Hugo Boss cologne, which (according to my nose) must be the official scent of England.

7 comments:

  1. That sounds like such a wonderful time! I'm so happy you and your mom had this opportunity!

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  2. Thank you for giving us a great glimpse into your whirlwind trip. I am amazed at how much ground you covered, but I am sure you felt there was so much to see in so little time. :)

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  3. I've enjoyed reading about your trip to England. Thanks for sharing!

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  4. I'm glad none of you are sick of England yet! =)

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  5. Elizabeth KilpatrickDecember 18, 2010 at 8:42 AM

    Mikaela- I'd never get sick of it! It sounds like you had a fabulous time! I am so glad you got to go!!

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  6. Sick of London? Never!!! I love hearing your stories. My husband and I are planning on "jumping" over the pond in September. We only have a week so we are going to stay in London. I am really excited to go. Reading your blog gets me even more excited to go.
    Great writing!!

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  7. *Phew* =)

    Summer--you will have such a fabulous time! We only had a week, but we sure crammed in a lot--and I would highly recommend everything I mentioned in my posts. Try, try, try to go to Benjamin Franklin's house; it was them most well-done historical site I've ever visited, largely because of their creative presentation.

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