July 14th – Part 2 – Culture Shock

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It was two years ago this July that I took the biggest trip of my life thus far! The journey covered 6 countries in 2 and a half weeks. A lot a miles were covered but the greater journey was the one that my mind’s eye experienced. I saw, tasted heard and smelled things so foreign to my senses that even two years later I am still unraveling the affair! I can’t explain it but when I came back from our trip I didn’t want to share it with anyone! I wanted to keep it locked up and safely close to my heart. The memories are like a rare and delicate lace that I pull out on special occasions to peer at life through. They decelerate my fast paced life for a brief unhurried moment.

I treasure my memories like a fine old wine! However, I decided to start working on piecing my memories together and giving them to you too. I started thinking about it and, well, wine is always better when it’s shared amongst friends! So I hope you enjoy my unravellings!

 

My Journal July 14th, 2011

This was a long day for everyone! We got to London and went straight to the city without dropping off our bags. It was such an awesome day though! We started with coffee at Pret. I had a flat white which is steamed milk over a double shot of espresso. So good and my eyes wouldn’t shut even if I wanted them to! I think it originated in Australia though so not very British!

We walked all over the city but before all of that we went to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guards. BP was really breathtaking but very opulent and very gold. I never realized that gold looks so alive and kind of on fire or like it is still molten but this does!!

I loved the Victoria Memorial! It was so opulent and stark against the grey sky.

After that we hiked to Westminster Abby, Big Ben and caught a glimpse of the London Eye which I can’t wait to see up close!

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It was rainy all day and a bit cold but I didn’t mind. I had energy all day though not sure where it came from (probably the flat white). Today the one thing that really was most unique was hearing accents but not just from famous British people like I have only ever heard! Children spoke with a heavy British accent. It just seemed odd and cute when I would hear them talk! There is so much to see in London!!

 

 

Sphinx at Cleopatra's Needle, Embankment, London. Cleopatra's Needle is the name given to an Ancient Egyptian obelisk that was brought to Britian and erected on the Embankment in 1878. It is flanked by two sphinxes cast in bronze.

This is the Sphinx at Cleopatra’s Needle, Victoria Embankment (Thames), London. Cleopatra’s Needle is the name given to an Ancient Egyptian obelisk that was brought to Britian and erected on the Embankment in 1878. It is flanked by two sphinxes cast in bronze.

 

 

sturgeons - George John Vulliamy, the Superintending Architect of the Metropolitan Board of Works created several of these lamps built into the retaining river wall of the Victoria  Embankment in 1870.

sturgeons – George John Vulliamy, the Superintending Architect of the Metropolitan Board of Works created several of these lamps built into the retaining river wall of the Victoria Embankment in 1870.

 

Of course we had to stop for real fish and chips at this little place! We were soaked and it felt good to sit. I remember we sat outside because the sun came out. The birds came out too! They scurried around under our table hoping to get a crumb! IMG_1086 We stopped at Starbucks towards the end of this day and while we were sitting spotted a wedding across the street. I enjoyed the scene as the bride and guests spilled out of the church. I couldn’t help but think how extraordinary such a normal scene seemed to me as an outsider. We went back to the hotel and while the boys took a nap I took a shower and went for a walk with Amy (technically we got lost trying to get to a shop Amy wanted to purchase some things she had seen online!) which turned out to be really interesting. London is full of all kinds of nationalities and cultures that seem to be kind of segmented off from one another. On one street you will see Spanish people playing salsa on the radio. On the next street there are old Italian women hanging clothing on a line. Neither of which seem to know about the other’s existance.

When we got back to the hotel around 7:30pm all of us got ready and went to Piccadilly square. This was what I saw: Lights! Huge TV screens like you would see in Time Square, stylish young women in chic ankle boots and miniskirts, Korean people with scarfs and ballet slippers, girls busy shopping while sporting neon leggings, old and tall white castle-like buildings, speeding taxis that look like old Mercuries! Piccadilly was so full of energy that it was contagious! I want to go dancing or walk faster or RUN through the street because I can’t take it all in fast enough!!!

Then… we turned down a street and stumbled upon China Town. Quieter with a red hazy glow over the damp street. Paper lanterns hang from the sky ahead like little suns lighting an exotic path through the streets of London China Town. Eateries line the street and outside  Chinamen beckon you to try their cuisine. One window I peeped into held a waiter. He was an old Chinese man who, having caught my eye, swept his hand wide in a welcoming gesture above the empty table he had prepared. I smiled though not ready to commit to his table and pressed on down the street until finally deciding on the London-China House. Truly for no reason, we ate there. I think something told me to keep the old Chinese waiter in my pocket as a memory just the way I saw him.

Dinner was delicious or maybe excitement really does makes everything taste better. I had curry vegetable and mushroom. After dinner we hopped the train back to our hotel, bought a night cap drink of Jack n Ginger and passed out exhausted before I got half way through my drink (we had our drinks in the hotel room). It was an early night as everyone was on the verge of passing out. I say it was early but it was close to 3am when we went to bed. My internal clock is so far off today! Either way we are so dead tired!

Good night London!

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