Me and Sherlock
London is officially my favorite city in the world. I donâ€™t know if a big part of that was because they speak English there and it was easy to communicate, but it is still my favorite place. It was a really great weekend too. We did everything and went everywhere. I am defiantly going to go back some day. Even the weather was good while we were there. Granted it was freezing cold, but the sun was shining for most of it and it never rained. I did have to buy a scarf and gloves, but that was ok.
The trip started Thursday morning at about 5am.
We had to take a bus from Strasbourg to Baden in Germany. Baden is where the airport is. We took RyanAir and so we have to go there to get on the plane. It is about an hour ride. The plane ride was very fast. I thought it was going to be longer but it was only about an hour. I was really happy because we got stamps in our passports. I did not get stamps for any of the places we went on break to. Most of the Western European countries have an agreement that people donâ€™t have to go through customs. I donâ€™t like that because I want to fill up my passport. That just made me like England even more.
After we arrived we had to take another bus into the actual city.
The airport we flew into is not actually in London, but that is ok because we saved a ton of money by not flying into Heathrow. The ride was about an hour but it was through all this country area and it was just beautiful. I sat and stared out the window the whole time. When we arrived in the city my friend Amy and I went and found our hotel while the other people we went with went to find their hostel. After our experiences with hostels Amy and I have decided that we are never going to even bother with hostels again. It really worked out for us this time because apparently the hostel that the others were staying in was also pretty bad and two of them came with us and slept on the floor of our hotel room for the next two nights.
During Veteran's Day weekend and Westminster Abby's lawn was covered in crosses commemorating the veterans
The first thing we did after checking into the hotel was meet up with the two how stayed with us and bought tickets for a bus tour.
We got to sit on the top of the open air double-decker bus. They gave us head phones so that we could listen to the commentary. It was really funny. The woman talking was making jokes and it made the ride very enjoyable. My favorite part was when we went by Madame Tussaudâ€™s Wax Museum, they made a joke about being able to see the pasty white form of Michael Jackson, and they canâ€™t quite figure out why, but he did not make it into the horror section of the museum.
The tour came with fish and chips at the Sherlock Holmâ€™s Pub. So we went there for dinner. I still do not like fish, but it was not too bad. I had a couple bites. It was here that we met these men. Everywhere we had gone that day I had seen people with paper flowers pinned to their chests.
I noticed that these men had them too and I was curious so I asked them what it was for. We ended up talking with them for about 20 minutes. They told us that it was remembrance weekend. They were remembering all the veterans who have fought in the wars. On Sunday there was going to be a big ceremony and the Queen and the Princes and the Prime Minister were going to lay flowers on the memorial. So we made plans to get their really early so that we could be right up front to see Prince William.
The National Museum
After we left the pub we walked down Regent Street. This was where they were going to have the ceremony. Amy and I had to leave around 7 because we had tickets to Les Miserable.
It is my favorite musical ever. I was so glad I was able to get tickets. They did a wonderful job. The music was beautiful. The acting was a little weird, but it was horrible. It was just weird at the part where they were all dying. They were doing it in slow motion. I donâ€™t know why. Anyway, I really enjoyed it. We just went back to the hotel after the play. It ended at about 10:30.
Women of World War II monument
The next morning we got back on the bus. We had bought 24 hour tickets and since we did not get on the day before until the late afternoon we were able to go again without paying. The bus lets you get on and off as many times as you want all day long. So our first stop was the National Gallery. I think I told you that Amy is an Art History major and so we had to do this.
I did not mind it though. There were some very beautiful paintings. The romantic period is not my favorite though. We spent about an hour here and then we went out to lunch
I hung out with Amy, Amy, and Cece. It was just the four of us doing stuff together even though three other girls came on the trip with us. The four of us went to lunch at Frankieâ€™s. It was great. They had a brunch menu and so I had pancakes, eggs, hash-browns, and bacon. It was the best meal I have had in a really long time. I am so happy that we found this place. The entire time I have been in France I have only had Smacks cereal for breakfast. I needed real breakfast. Frankieâ€™s just made the trip even better.
Next we walked down to see the Parliament, and the Tower of Big Ben.
They are amazing to see. For some reason though I thought that Big Ben was bigger than it really was. Across the river from Big Ben is the London Eye. It is awesome. It is basically a big Ferris Wheel that you can walk around in and see all of London. As another part of our bus tour we had a pass to go on a river cruse.
The London Eye
The departure point for the boat was underneath the London Eye. We got there about 30 minutes early so we walked along the pathway. There were people there doing little shows and there were the people who dress up and donâ€™t move unless you put money in their cups. We ended up watching this man who was doing a juggling show.
He was very funny. He had names for all the different ways to juggle the bowling pin shaped things. There was the Guy on drugs way, the American way, the European way, and so on. He would crack jokes at the people who passes by and he used members of the crowd to help him do things. He was setting up for this very big thing (which we did not get to watch because we had to catch the boat) and he was making jokes while doing it. There were these little 2 or 3 year old twins, a boy and a girl, standing next to us watching and they just kept laughing and laughing and really loudly. It was obvious they did not understand the jokes (some of them were very inappropriate) but they would burst out laughing and the man would thank them and then they would laugh again. They were so cute to watch. I almost had more fun watching them than watching the man.
The boat trip was not very good.
The man who was giving the commentary was making a lot of racist jokes, especially against Americans. He was not enjoyable. It was also a very long ride. I am also pretty sure that it was colder inside the boat than it was outside. I was freezing and thought I would never make it off. We got off the boat at the Tower Bridge. I am sure you have all seen pictures of the Tower Bridge. It is the most famous bridge. We saw the London Bridge, but it was not very impressive. In fact it is just a cement bridge. There was nothing remarkable about it. The song got stuck in my head though.
Tower of London
We crossed the Tower Bridge and I took pictures.
The Tower Bridge
We had to go to the other side of the river because we read about this amazing museum called the London Dungeon. It was amazing. It was by far the coolest museum I have ever been too. It is basically like going through a giant haunted house. The first part of it is they put us in a room full of mirrors, and we had to find our way out. We basically walked in circles for 5 minutes before they moved one of the mirrors back to let us in. The next part was the time when the plague was in Europe. There was a guy who took us into a room and he was dressed up in the time and said he was the only surviving physician in the area.
He did an autopsy on this guy who was laid out on the table and he kept dropping body parts and he said he could not figure out what this certain part of the body was and he squeezed it and we were sprayed and he said â€śOops, that must be the bladder.â€ť He was funny. Then he kind of chased us around the room because he was screaming that the rats were coming. It was funny. In the next room we were trapped with this crazy woman who was showing us all her torture instruments. It was really disgusting and she kept yelling at everyone and threatening to use them on us. The next room was a trial and they picked three people and put them on trial for â€świtchcraftâ€ť and â€śbeing French.â€ť This part was very funny. They were making really funny stories about why these people should be put to death. Then they put us in these boats. We rode backwards and it was pitch black and you could hear people screaming and yelling and all other sorts of very scary sounds. Amy and I were huddled together in the front seat and all of a sudden there was this huge bright flash. They took our picture. It turned out really well. None of us were looking up. We were basically hiding at the bottom of the boat. Cece bought it. We are going to make copies. We got off the boats and were led to the front of a bakery shop. This part of the museum was about Sweeny Todd. He was the barber who killed people and then gave them to his girlfriend who backed them in pies. The lady tried to sell us â€śmeatâ€ť pies. She was really creepy, but that could be because she was really a man dressed as a woman and using a high pitched voice. We think someone must have called in sick that day. Then she led us into the barber shop. We sat in these chairs and all of a sudden the lights went off and it was completely black. I think there were speakers in the back of the chair and you could hear footsteps coming. Amy jumped in my lap. I had to force her into her chair, and even then she was still hanging on me. I was scared to though. Then Sweeny Todd started talking to us. You could feel him walking around behind you and hear the snip of the scissors and the sound of him sharpening his shaving knife. It was really freaky and then all of a sudden you chair is forced back like he is going to start. Everyone screamed. Then the police came in and said they had caught Sweeny Todd. They led us into a room where we learned about Jack the Ripper. There was so much that I did not know about him. I have read about him but nothing I read had described just what exactly he did to his victims. It was disgustingly amazing. This part was not too scary. Then we moved into another room where we watched a video about the London fire of 1666. The room got so hot I thought I would pass out. Of course that was what they were aiming for. It was horrible. It made you feel like there was no escape. That is what happened during the real fire. Many people died because there was nowhere to run. This was the end of the tour. It was so cool. I would love to go back. After it was over we got to see the pictures they took of us. In the very beginning after we bought our tickets they took a picture of us. Cece and I had our heads in that thing that they used to chain peoples heads and arms in. I donâ€™t remember what it is called, and the two Amys had Axes. The picture turned out awesome. Cece bought a copy of that one too and so we are going to make copies of that too and hopefully I will be able to send it to you.
The London Dungeon. This was a fun museum about all the horrors of London.
When we got out of the museum it was very dark outside even though it was only about 5pm. We called the other girls we came with and we met up with them for dinner. We went back to Frankieâ€™s. I had pizza. It was normal pizza too. The kind I did not have to eat with a knife and a fork. It also had real pepperoni and not slices of salami. It was really hot, spicy hot. It was the most amazing think I have eaten in a very long time. I am going to need Round Table or Pizza Factory when I get home. I need real pizza. I canâ€™t order pizza in France because I break my wrist trying to cut it, and I lose my apatite because I spend half of the meal cutting it. I always give up before I finish eating. After the meal we just went back to the hotel. It was pretty late by this time. I could not believe how much time we spent just sitting in the restaurant.
The next day we were up and moving by 9 AM. That is pretty good for us. Usually we sleep in until about 10. We all just felt that there was so much here that we wanted to do, that we could not waste any time. Our first stop for the day was to Buckingham Palace. It took us forever to get there though. We got on the bus, but because the city was setting up for the ceremony the next day the bus had to detour and we did not even get near the palace. We tried to get off at the closest stop to the palace but there was something wrong with that too so we ended up having to go all the way back into the main part of the city. Then we got on another bus hoping to get close again. The driver told us that there was a beautiful park that we could walk through to get there and we would get their faster going through it. We heard that the English were not very friendly. I must say that everyone I talked to was very friendly and all of them were helpful. We walked through the park (which was beautiful) and right up to the gates of Buckingham Palace. It was gorgeous. It was not exactly what I was expecting though. I have seen movies where they go to the Palace and they stand next to the guards and try and make them move. I was thinking that the guards stay outside the gates. They were inside and up against the building which was a good 100 yards from the gates. I was looking forward to taking pictures with them. Oh well. We did get to see an inspection of the guards, though it was very hard to tell exactly what was going on. We got there just after the changing of the guards. I heard that it is amazing to watch the changing. There is a big ceremony involved.
Next we walked with Cece and Amy to their theater. They were seeing a matinee showing of Wicked. Cece bought the soundtrack and let me put it on my computer. Now I really want to see it. After they went into see it the other Amy and I went to Harrods. It is huge. I must say though that it is not as big as the Mall of America. It is much more expensive though. We walked around in there. I found a bookstore. I thought I was in heaven until I saw the prices on the back of the book. One English Pound is worth 2 American Dollars. They wanted me to spend $12 for a book. I almost died. I am out of books though. It is killing me. There was a store called Christmas World. It was awesome. I have pictures, donâ€™t worry dad. It was filled to the top with Christmas decorations.
After Harrods we sat at Starbucks for a little while and had hot chocolate. Then we went to Westminster Abby. By this time it was pretty dark so most of my pictures of the building did not turn out. Because it is remembrance weekend there were little wooden crosses with paper poppy flowers on them all over. They literally covered the ground. It was incredible to look at. There was an entire area that was dedicated to all those who died in the wars, and another to all those who lived, and then others dedicated to specific regiments and divisions. I have some very good pictures of them. It was a very emotional thing to behold. Amy and I made donations to the Veterans Memorial Fund and were given paper Poppies to wear on our shirts. The reason that they use Poppies is because a major battle in World War II was fought in the fields of France that was filled with Poppies.
Around this time Cece and Amy called us to tell us they were out of the play and so we met up at the London Eye. We had wanted to ride the eye when it was still light out so that our pictures would turn out, but things just did not work out that way. It was great. You could see everything, all of London. From the ground it really does not look all the big. It is bigger than any Ferris Wheel I have ever seen, but still it did not look bigger than the buildings. Once we got up there though, we realized just how big it really was. I loved it. It was a very nice clear night and you could see for miles. All the lights were beautiful. I wish that my pictures had turned out. I will send you what I took, but you can not really tell what everything is.
After the Eye we went across town to the Tate Modern Museum. Amy loves modern art. I really donâ€™t get it and I donâ€™t like it. Well, that is not true; I donâ€™t like most of it. I like Picasso. His pieces are just very interesting. There was one room dedicated to one artist and on one wall he had 4 different colored neon lights shaped into a box. On the other wall he had a neon light like this â€“ and then on the other wall it was like this /. I just donâ€™t understand why that is art. We spent 2 horrible hours in there. I did not say anything though because Amy really loves it and she was having a good time. So the other Amy, Cece and I would make up stories about the different art pieces. We had a very hard time not laughing. It was very quiet in there and the rooms echoed.
When we finally left it was about 10pm. The scariest thing happened to us on the way home. We were in the subway waiting for out train. There were not many people in there. Then this train goes through without stopping. We were wondering why when an announcement came on over the PA. â€śDue to a reported emergency will all passengers please leave the station immediately.â€ť We all look at each other and then at this lady who is sitting next to us and she shook her head and gave us this look that said â€śI am sure it is nothing and we donâ€™t need to leave. Then the announcement came on again. â€śDue to a reported emergency will all passengers please leave the station immediately.â€ť This time we all got up and started moving very fast. The announcement kept repeating and the alarms started going off. The only thing I could think of was the subway bombing in London a couple years ago. I was very scared. We got out of the building and my heart was pounding. Once everyone was out of the station they shut all the gates and there were guards standing there. We did not know if it was just that one station or not so we went to the next station and it was also closed and the alarms were still going off. We ended up having to take the bus most of the way back to the hotel. It took forever. From the time we left the museum it took us 2 Â˝ hours to get home. By the end of that 2 Â˝ hours though the subways were open again. We still have not found out what happened. We were hoping to get a newspaper the next morning but we did not get a chance.
One of the Amys was feeling pretty sick that evening, and so she decided that she did not want to get up early the next morning to that we could go see the ceremony and the Royal Family. Then the other Amy decided that she did not want to spend the morning in the cold. So Cece decided that she did not really have to go. I was glad that we did not have to get up early but I really wanted to go. I did not want to go by myself though. So we watched the ceremony on the television. I am kind of glad now that we did not spend the early morning in the cold because it was not at all what I was thinking. You could not really even see the Royal Family from where the people were standing. There were so many veterans standing around that you could not see through them. Not that I begrudge them their place, after all they deserve to be there front and center. Prince Henry was not even there. Not that I really wanted to see him. I was there for William. He was not even a part of the ceremony. He was standing up on a balcony with Camilla. It was a very moving ceremony though. I donâ€™t think it would have been as moving for me if I had not watched it on the TV. They did a kind of documentary of many of the battles that had been fought, and then the soldiers shot a cannon off at exactly 11 to signal 2 minutes of silence. Then shot the cannon off again.
After watching the ceremony we headed to the airport. It was a truly great weekend. I want to go back to London. I will to. I think I am going to make dad go with me when he comes and visits.