Help! We had to do it!
This morning we had a scheduled tour with Doug. He was funny and very knowledgeable about London. We learned a lot about the areas of the city. We drove all along the River Thames, Westminster, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, etc. learning about the history. The first thing I learned that the area our hotel was in was called The Docks. It is where many jobs were for importing and exporting long ago but now is used as a financial district. We stopped at St. Paul’s Cathedral, a very famous church that held events such as Winston Churchill’s funeral and Dianna and Charles’ wedding.
We drove by Big Ben (which is actually the bell not the clock) and Parliament and stopped at Trafalgar Square to climb on the lions.
Our delegation in front of the Tower Bridge
We went to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. It was interesting and very crowded. We started watching from down the street where the new guards were coming from. A band led them down the street to Buckingham Palace. Traffic stopped and people lined the street. We chased the band down the road to the Palace. When we got there, we couldn’t even get close because there were so many people. We saw the band and the other shift leaving. Doug told us that their shifts last for 24 hours. Apparently there is a lot of controversy about the cost and necessity of the whole production every day.
Jill, Lori and I with the Lion
We went and had lunch in a medieval dungeon with Henry VIII. Then we headed to the Tower of London. Doug told us a bit about the tower, torture, beheadings and battles. He showed us the “Bloody Tower” where two young princes were allegedly murdered by their uncle who was the next heir to the throne. I stood in the spot where Ann Boleyn was chopped. I also saw the Crown Jewels on display. All I have to say is, wow. We toured a history display of Henry VIII which focused on his fighting and athleticism. We took good photos of the Tower Bridge which is not the London Bridge as so many people think.
After the Tower of London we had a short cruise down the River Thames on a boat. Good photos before our Chinese food dinner. After dinner we had about 20 minutes of free time in some square. Jon, Lori, Jill and I created the best game ever having to do with stickers. I will leave it at that!
We went to see the play “Blood Brothers”. It was about twins separated at birth that eventually meet their doom at the same time. Pretty morbid but most of it was light and funny. There was a creepy character that kept foreshadowing the end as a punishment to their mom for separating them. He was a real downer. I felt really horrible because at the dramatic ending these actors were pouring their hearts out when some actors dressed as police officers came up behind the audience and scared some women in the back.
They started giggling and it spread throughout the theater. We were laughing uncontrollably throughout the end of the play. It didn’t help that the music had these very 80’s electric drum rifts. They sounded like from the drum break in Phil Collins’ I can feel it coming in the air…
Pretty shot of the bridge through the trees
Getting home was probably the most traumatic event of the trip. We had to take 40 kids on the London Underground or “The Tube”. Now I would like to think that I am pretty worldly person. I lived outside of Boston for years and have been on the T hundreds of times. I have been on the Subway in New York. I have even been on the Underground in Hungary. But I have never had to be responsible for 40 students on a crowded London Tube at 11:30 on a Saturday night when all the drunk people were headed to and from the clubs.
Most of the kids had never been on a subway before in their lives. We separated them into groups. I had 10 kids with me. I made them get a Tube buddy that they were not to let go of for any reason! We had to let two trains go by because they were too packed. We realized quickly that all the trains were going to be that way and we were just going to have to shove ourselves on. I literally pushed my group onto the next train. The looks on their faces were petrified as I was determined not to loose anyone. We were so smushed, my head was in someone’s armpit. The look of terror on the kids’ faces was priceless. We had to change trains at a central station to get on the line that went to our hotel. A very funny drunk guy was carrying on about how someone farted and it lightened the mood. I thought some of the kids were going to break into tears before the trip was over. It was funny reading about the journey in the kids’ journals because some of them talked about it being the most terrifying experience of their lives! When we got home and realized that everyone made it the other leaders and I rested in the hotel lounge before heading to bed. Cheers!