Sunday, July 4, 2010

I made it to London!

For a little while there, I wasn’t sure I would. Toward the end, things got a little stressful, especially as we waited (and waited) for our tickets.

So, for those who don’t know, I’m here in London taking a course for my masters in library science. I’m touring numerous British libraries and museums and keeping a blog of my experiences. As I’ve been here for three days now, I figure I should really start my record of my experiences.

Surprisingly, I’ve adjusted fairly well to the time change but after walking around for three days my feet are absolutely killing me. Hopefully by the end of the month, I’ll have toughened up (and maybe lost a little weight).

The first day, after our 8 hour flight, preceded by another couple hours spent on a plane to get to our departure point of Chicago, we were told the best thing to do would be to stay awake so we could crash that night and adjust to the time change that much easier. As logical as that sounds, it was damn hard to keep going after that long of a flight. Leaving our stuff in our rooms, Susan and I headed out to explore London and purchase cell phones and broadband cards (known here as dongles). We wandered around and ended up in Trafalgar square, sitting by the fountain for a little bit. We had to be back by four pm for a walking tour of the city with our library science group.

As interesting as the walking tour was, I really have no idea where we went because my brain was fried. I’m fairly convinced it was just an attempt to keep us awake for a few more hours. After an interesting meal at a Tex-Mex place I crashed.

Day two was much more interesting as, even though we had a class in the morning and an introductory lecture for everyone in the British Studies Program, we spent the afternoon at the Imperial War Museum. We only had a few hours to spend there and only got through part of the basement and the first floor. Susan and I agreed, we would need to go back so we could spend more time on the exhibits.

Yesterday being Sunday (and the 4th of July), we went to John Wesley's church. John Wesley is credited with being the founder of the Methodist Church. The service was interesting as I'd never been to a Methodist service before and it was unbearably hot. Apparently the British have not heard of air conditioning or believe it to be unnecessary. A good number of people don't like to open their windows either so I was sweating like crazy.

The service was interesting as it was also the first Sunday of the month and communion was distributed. This turned the service into an hour and a half and it felt like it just got hotter and hotter. When you first came in, they gave you a Methodist book of prayer or responses for the service and a hymnal. Now I don’t know about other religions, but Lutherans hymnal gives you the musical score as well as the words so for those of us who read music, we can tell what note to sing next. This church’s book only had the words, and I suppose if you went to their church service often enough, you would just know what the melody was, but not being Methodist, I didn’t’ know all the songs and I’m afraid I sounded like a cat singing or screaming on the fence in the night.

After the service, the church offered a tour of John Wesley’s home, grave and off the small museum in the basement. The house was interesting, if nothing other than the reason of being well over a hundred years old and extremely creaky. I was amazed by the size of the house, everything seemed so very small – but I am on the large size, up as well as around.

Susan and I were the only ones who stayed for the tour and while interesting, it did get a little long. We didn’t get lunch until 2.30 at a little café by St. Paul’s Cathedral. After that, we hopped on the underground and went to see the Sherlock Holmes Museum.

This museum was pure fun. We had to go into the gift shop to get our tickets (£6) and I considered getting my father a t-shirt. I decided against it, finding something else I liked better. Not going to tell you all what it is as he will probably read this. Just know it’s not a t-shirt. The townhouse was 5 or 6 stories tall, each floor with two rooms. My favorite item is pictured in this post. Anyone surprised?

That evening, we walked along the Queen’s walk by the Themes again. We decided to ride the London Eye in the evening, thinking we would get to take pictures of London at dusk when all the lights start to come on. Unfortunately, as we were walking from the dorm to the Eye, the clouds rolled in and everything was rather grey. We still got some good pictures and my favorite is next to this post.

After the Eye, we wanted to get something to eat. The night before while we had been out walking, on one of the bridges we crossed, there was a vendor selling hotdogs with grilled onions and they had smelled SOOOO good. Saturday, neither of us had been hungry but we both remembered the smell and went back for a couple of hotdogs. They tasted better than they smelled and I just had to take a picture.

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