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Sunday, May 18, 2008

London Pride

At the beginning, it seems like a large and tedious task to chronicle my eleven-day European holiday. Especially when I'm so dadgum exhausted. This time last Sunday, I was still on an airplane, probably about to eat a cardboard-like pizza at 40,000 feet. Is it possible that I'm still jet-lagged? The past week was so busy and long, and I'm still not rested.

It took us approximately 16 hours to make it to Picadilly Backpackers, our hostel home during our stay in London. That'd be 16 hours, 250 pounds of luggage, and several hundred steps navigating the London Underground. We were starving by the time we checked in, so after a quick freshen up, we walked down the street to find something to eat.

Ironically, our restaurant destination was called "The Crown." Fitting for a Queen's first meal across the pond. We all ordered and marveled that we'd actually made it to Europe. Little did we know that we were about to experience our first setback...

Our meal was delivered promptly, and I was rather taken with the beautiful display of fish and chips that lay before me. Lana, on the other hand, was mortified when she realized that her barbeque chicken sandwich was globbed with mayonnaise. Lana has an irrational fear of the white condiment, and nearly flipped out when she saw it oozing out between the bread. While Lana steamed, Mandy, Siebe and I focused on our food, and didn't speak for nearly five minutes. Finally, I began to snicker, and pretty soon we were all laughing at how preposterous the situation. Siebe admitted that her worst fear about this trip had come true within our first few hours in London: Lana would encounter mayonnaise. Anyway, my fish and chips were delightfully delicious, and I loved the mushy peas on the side. Mandy, however, prefers her peas from a can.

A very hungry MA & Siebe after a very long trip.

After dinner, we shopped around Picadilly Circus, Oxford Circus and Bond Street. We learned fast that the only shopping we'd partake in would be that of the window variety, as the dollar is so weak to the British Pound. Stops at H&M and TopShop were fruitless. But we did make it to Fortnum & Mason, and I scored some Queen Anne and Strawberry tea.

In the heart of Picadilly Circus with Eros

To be honest, I was a little disappointed in London. I expected much more history, and much less modernization. You'd walk past a quaint corner with historic architecture, only to find a McDonalds or KFC next door. And the people were not only quite ugly, but very rude. People on the street wouldn't think twice about barreling into you. It was like an angry ant hill. And a very dirty ant hill, at that. London is smelly and trashy---literally. People just throw their trash on the street. This is probably because there are virtually no trash cans to be found.

To end our evening, we embarked on a Londoner pub crawl and realized how exhausted we were after our almost 36 hour day. I had a pint of Fuller's London Pride, Outstanding Pale Ale, and then we tucked ourselves into our bunkbeds.

Saturday morning came early, and we rolled out of bed to get ready for the day. Our hostel bedroom was incredibly clean, almost as if it had been sprayed down with bleach before our arrival. The community bathrooms, on the other hand, were rather nasty.

Our morning descent onto the streets of London was lonely, as we were the only crazies to be up and out before 8 a.m. Us and the street sweepers, cleaning up all of that abandoned trash. Our first stop of the morning was St. Paul's Cathedral. We got there early enough so that the four of us got to experience the beautiful church without the masses of tourists.

After St. Paul's we traveled bankside to the River Thames to the lifesize replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. I loved this tour. We were even lucky enough to see a drama troupe rehearsing for a production of Romeo and Juliet. We ended the morning with lunch on the Thames. I was a little surprised at how boring the London skyline. There really wasn't much of one. And carved stone was outweighed by steel and glass.

The Tower Bridge

Siebe, Mandy, Lana & MA on the River Thames

As if we could schedule anymore into our first day of sightseeing, we traveled over to the Tower of London to visit the Beefeaters guarding the Crown Jewels. The complex was pretty amazing and the grounds were exceptionally kept. But it was miserably hot inside the non-airconditioned walls, and the rubies and diamonds were about the only eye candy we found. I did discover an award-winning loo though...

Beauties and the Beefeater

A long day in the sun yielded four hungry (and cranky) girls. We made our way to Leicester Square to have dinner at De Hems Dutch Pub, recommended to us by Mandy's cousin Tina. I had my second round of fish and chips, but not all are created equal. On our table, I saw a tri-fold table topper advertising Eiken Artois, evidently the brother beer of my favorite beer, Stella Artois. Has anyone had an Eiken Artois and can you get it stateside???

And the holiday continues...


Blogger emmysue said...

I have beautiful friends.

1:12 PM

Blogger Kristen said...

You girls look lovely, even if you are jet-lagged or cranky. :) Sorry London was a bit of a disappointment.

2:20 PM


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