Day Twenty Six

London Travel Blog

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Buckingham Palace

The word of the day is... lame!

I started off my ridiculously busy day at Buckingham Palace to finally see the changing of the guards. We got there a half hour before it started and it was already jam packed. Was able to get my way second in line (just one person between me and the gates outside) but I still couldn't see much. Halfway through I went farther back and was able to see a little more, like the men on horses going through the gate. But, seriously, the thing as a whole was laaaame. So short, so overrated. It wasn't all that special. I guess you can't really go to London and not see the changing of the guards (kinda a requirement) and now that I've done it I can honestly say.

Buckingham Palace
.. so freaking lame.

Then after that we headed to Westminster Abbey. It was absolutely stunning inside, definitely not lame. The architecture, stained glass, monuments. I don't know what else I can really say... you just have to see it for yourself. I really wish photography was allowed because of some of the parts of the Abbey were just breath-takingly beautiful. And no words can truly convey how beautiul it all was. 

In retrospect I kind of wish I did an audio tour of the Abbey. When I went to Stonehenge and Bath they gave us audio tours which I felt were kinda boring and went into more detail than I really cared about. So I decided against the 3 pound tours. But in the Abbey you were pretty much on your own, which I didn't realize.

Buckingham Palace
There weren't many information plaques, telling you about the things around you, like they have at museums. So I was able to look at everything and take as much of it in as I could, but I may have learned more if I shelled out the money for the tour. Oh well, I still liked it. I got to see the coronation chair and crowns and tombs. It was quite a day.

Near the end of Abbey there was a garden and a high school band was performing. So I stayed and listened for a while. It was really funny though. When we got out there the first song they performed was God Bless America (later learned that they were an American high school). I thought that was absolutely hilarious. Outside of Westminster Abbey, one of the most quintessentially British places... that's the last place I'd expect to hear a patriotic American song.

Changing of the guards
So I laughed. They were pretty good... regular band, jazz band, and flags/dancing. I was probably the only person in the audience under 85/not related to a member of said bands, but I didn't really care. I didn't have any set plans for the rest of the day so why not enjoy free music?

After the Abbey I walked over to Big Ben and Parliament again (I had been by there before). Still beautiful, still amazing. This time I actually got pictures of the sights... with me in them. Now you can all see that yes I was there, too! (copyright Dad, Hannukah video circa 1994).

I also walked up Whitehall and peeked outside Downing Street, which, say it with me, was laaaame. There were like three police officers opening and closing the gates when cars would want to come in.

Changing of the guards
They would close it, another car would come, open it, close it, repeat. And you couldn't really see anything at all. Lame.

I also saw some building nearby with soldiers and horses outside (I think it has an official name but I'm too lazy/tired to look it up right now). Not too much to say about it. It was pretty, there were horses.

After a busy morning/afternoon I was a little history-ed out, but I couldn't go home because I'm starting to feel the time crunch (I really don't think I'll be able to do everything I want in the time that's left :/). So I decided to cross the Westminster Bridge into Southbank. I went to the Aquarium and, honestly, I was very disappointed. Maybe I'm just used to the Baltimore Aquarium which kicks ass, but this aquarium was pretty boring.

Changing of the guards
They had a tank with four sharks and a touch tank where I could very very very briefly touch a stingray (felt like rubber)... that was as exciting as it got. Didn't see any octopi, eels. The fish weren't that colorful (sorry, Mom). There weren't that many tanks. I was kind of bummed when I finished, I felt like there should have been way more. But at least now I'm motivated to go the aquarium when I get back home and do it the right way.

After the aquarium I walked up Whitehall again, through Trafalgar Square. I stopped at a lot of tourist shops on the way there. I've decided I don't particularly like London souvenirs. NYC has awesome ones... cool shirts, magnets, snowglobes, everything.

Changing of the guards
The London versions are LAME. A lot of the stuff is old fartsy looking. And, I'm not really sure why, but they have so much London school supplies. Really, is that necessary? Here, I went to England and I got you this London pencil sharpner! ...I don't think so. So now I'm starting to have some problems deciding what to bring back for all you faithful readers (those of you I actually know that is...)

So after some disappointing tourist shop stops I made it to the West End and got tickets to Little Shop of Horrors. But I had an hour and half or so before showtime so I decided to head over to Chinatown which was nearby. And, going with the word of the day, it was laaaaame. Seriously... it was maybe 2 square blocks. It was smaller than NYC's Little Italy (which I didn't think was possible).

Changing of the guards
And, there were only restaurants and grocery stores, no cheap clothing stores or street vendors like on Canal Street. And, even worse,  the food there was GROSS. All I wanted was Chinese stringbeans or maybe lo mein, I don't think that's too much to ask for. But none of them had them. All I remember was a lot of eel soup and bean curds. So lame. So so lame.

So disappointed and still early for the show, I just walked up and down the streets in the West End. It was nice, I really got the atomosphere of the neighborhood. Lots of tourists, but lots of locals, too hanging out at the bars, clearly on their way home from work. And it was nice to just wander around without any particular destination in mind. And, for the first time, like, ever I actually walked at a slow pace.

Changing of the guards
A mosey if you will. That is so not me. I'm one of those people who walks quickly no matter the situation--I could be hours early for something and still race there, pushing by any slow walkers. But not today for some reason. It was a nice change, but I definitely won't be making a habit out of it.

So then I saw Little Shop of Horrors which I liked a lot, but I wouldn't say I loved. My assigned seat was in the third row all the way on the right. There's no pit so the front rows were really close to the stage. And the stage was reallllly high up, so at the angle I was it made it really difficult to see. I was a little worried, but then I noticed that literally the rest of the row wasn't filled. So I quickly asked an usher if I could move over, he said sure, and I got a seat closer to the middle and it was great.

Changing of the guards
I could see everything. I guess I still had a little bit of my luck left over from yesterday.

In terms of the show... I loved the theatre. It was one of the smallest theatres I've ever been to. Just an orchestra and one balcony, not too many rows back. The stage was small-ish and rotating. It was just a very intimate setting. Actors were actually on stage 10 minutes before the show started. Just street walkers, walking around, freaking out the young girls in the front of the orchestra. I've never been to a show when actors appear on stage in character before the show officially starts.

The show's official beginning was also really unique. The show started without any warning. The lights were on, people were chatting and BOOM the loud music started playing.

Guards
People screamed, it was so unexpected. It was a funny way to start. The audience was really great tonight, really into the show--lots of clapping and wooing. And there were some times when a character was gross or mean and the audience collectively groaned or gasped or laughed. It made the show a lot more fun... felt like you were watching the show with one big group of friends. Never quite experienced that before. 

And as I said, I did like the show a lot. I liked the characters (especially these three girls who show up in almost every song--their facial expressions alone were absolutely priceless). And the singing was great, too. My only problem was with the songs themselves. I didn't really like them. The melodies weren't that catchy and I couldn't see myself listening to them over and over again as I do with other shows.

Guards
There were a couple songs that I really liked that I'll probably listen to again, but most of the songs just didn't make a great impression on me. They were well sung, but they weren't all too special. Maybe that's why I didn't buy a t-shirt tonight (so unlike me).

After the show it was nice out so I decided to walk home. I didn't realize how close I actually was to my dorm. Because I've been here over three weeks I've become pretty familiar with a lot of the areas in Central London, but only on a neighborhood-by-neighboorhod basis. Like I know West End, I know Covent Garden, but I never realized how close West End was to Covent Garden. So I was pretty surprised that after literally walking five minutes from the theatre there I was, on the route I take to get to class. When I was at the theatre I felt like I was lightyears away because it was a whole different atmosphere with different types of people, but it turned out I was only maybe 25 minutes away total from my dorm. I guess I still have some street learnin' to do.

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Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
Changing of the guards
Changing of the guards
Changing of the guards
Changing of the guards
Changing of the guards
Changing of the guards
Changing of the guards
Changing of the guards
Changing of the guards
Changing of the guards
Changing of the guards
Changing of the guards
Changing of the guards
Changing of the guards
Guards
Guards
Guards
Guards
Guards
Guards
Guards
Guards
Guards
Guards
Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
Me outside Westminster Abbey
Me outside Westminster Abbey
Me outside Westminster Abbey
Me outside Westminster Abbey
Me outside Westminster Abbey
Me outside Westminster Abbey
Inside Westminster Abbey
Inside Westminster Abbey
Inside Westminster Abbey
Inside Westminster Abbey
Me inside Westminster Abbey
Me inside Westminster Abbey
Me inside Westminster Abbey
Me inside Westminster Abbey
Big Ben/London Eye
Big Ben/London Eye
Big Ben
Big Ben
Big Ben
Big Ben
Big Ben and Bus
Big Ben and Bus
Me and Big Ben
Me and Big Ben
Me at Big Ben
Me at Big Ben
Me and Big Ben
Me and Big Ben
Me and Big Ben
Me and Big Ben
Parliament
Parliament
Me and Parliament
Me and Parliament
Again
Again
London Eye
London Eye
Horse building
Horse building
Me at horse building
Me at horse building
Guard
Guard
Horse
Horse
Me and horse
Me and horse
Park in Westminster
Park in Westminster
Again
Again
10 Downing Street
10 Downing Street
Downing Street
Downing Street
London Eye
London Eye
Me and London Eye
Me and London Eye
Aquarium
Aquarium
Aquarium
Aquarium
Aquarium
Aquarium
Aquarium
Aquarium
Aquarium
Aquarium
Aquarium
Aquarium
For mom!
For mom!
For mom!
For mom!
For mom!
For mom!
For mom!
For mom!
For mom!
For mom!
For mom!
For mom!
For mom!
For mom!
Turtle
Turtle
Turtle
Turtle
Naughty turtles
Naughty turtles
Closeup
Closeup
Catfish
Catfish
Cool plant
Cool plant
Touch pool
Touch pool
Whatever compelled me to take this…
Whatever compelled me to take thi…
Stingray
Stingray
Starfish
Starfish
SHARK
SHARK
SHARK
SHARK
SHARK
SHARK
SHARK
SHARK
Chinatown
Chinatown
Chinatown
Chinatown
Chinatown
Chinatown
Miss Piggy in Chinatown
Miss Piggy in Chinatown
Little Shop of Horrors
Little Shop of Horrors
Little Shop of Horrors stage
Little Shop of Horrors stage
London
photo by: ulysses