Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Tourists Have Arrived!

July and August is peak season for tourists in Europe and it was easy to tell a difference on the first day of July. In July, the weather is supposed to be better and the days are longer, along with the queues. A piece of advice for if you visit Europe, there are better deals, less lines and less crowds if you travel opposite of these two months. On the other side you may be forfeiting some great weather. Either way in London, you still need to be prepared for the weather because it can change instantly. To the right is a great view of Big Ben, the Eye and part of Parliament along with a mass of tourists.

With the tourists arriving, they are also helping me feel more like a local. I have figured out London pretty quickly (with a lot of help from Anne), and I have had several people ask where something is or a certain street and I am able to explain where it is. A simple feeling that makes me feel more like a "temporary local." Below is a picture of "Buck House" or Buckingham Palace that I took while walking back to Anne's.

On Friday, Anne and I headed to the south bank to visit Shakespeare's Globe and the Borough Market. This replica of the original Globe Theater is built as it was in Shakespeare's time. It serves both as a museum and a working theater featuring many authentic Shakespeare plays and modern plays. During our tour, a play was in rehersal which allowed us to watch their practice.

After our tour we walked to London's oldest food market, Borough market. This place has it all from flowers to organic fruits and vegetables to some mouthwatering fudge. It has hundreds of stands featuring their freshest goods to sell that took a lot of will power to turn down. I ended up getting some excellent seafood paella before we walked back to Anne and Sandy's.

On Saturday, I went to Westminster Abbey to view the greatest church in the English-speaking world. This is the place where all England's kings and queens have been crowned and buried. It seemed very much like an indoor cemetery with over 3,000 tombs, but its architecture was beautiful. I wish I were able to take pictures, but you are not permitted to inside. Inside the cathedral also sits the Coronation Chair. The gold-painted wooden chair has been carved with some graffiti, but its significance is unprecedented. It has been in use since the early 1100's.

By the time my tour ended, I was lucky enough to grab a seat and hear the evensong performed by the Westminster boys choir. Hearing this musical meditation is one of the most pleasant ways to view the church in the way it was intended to serve.

Until next time, cheers and God save the Queen!

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