December 28, 2006
British at Heart
Oh yes, I have arrived…. safe and sound with no major flight issues except for the fact that turbulence was so bad over the Atlantic the flight attendance could barely get out of their seats! Yes, and we know how much I like flying over water!!
So yesterday after I got in early morning I spent an hour in the custom’s line…. and another half an hour in the Tube line… and another hour on the Tube… before I checked into the Norwegian YWCA. As mentioned before you have to either be Norwegian or a women under 30 to stay there. I’m the only one in the entire place that qualifies based on the latter. The others, however, are trying to claim me as one of their own. Apparently I look like a Norwegian because I’ve already had 3 people ask if I’ve checked my ancestory for N roots. LOL – I told them yes have checked, and the closest I can get is Lithuanian (a collective… Ahhhhh, yes.)
So, yesterday I set out to explore Holland Park and have to admit that my first purchase in London was…. drum roll please…. Starbucks. Don’t sigh, I NEEDED some tea and the first place I encountered was a Starbucks. So I resisted. And then the second place I passed was a Starbucks and gave in (they’re everyother block here, seriously!) So after my usual Grande Earl Grey – 2 bags I walked around Holland Park and then into Notting Hill where I ended up at a cafe partaking in my favorite past time……. People watching while drinking more tea. I love the English! I figured it best to get out of my own neighborhood and explore some more – looked at and memorized a map from a bookstore (can you believe I didn’t bring any of the London maps I own) I decided my mission was to walk to Harrod’s. I’ve never been there before and it’s on the “list.” My bones were frozen by the time I hit Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. So I made a detour into the Museum of Science for two purposes……. first, warmth. Second, my 20 year old brother and cousin whooped my butt at Trivial Pursuit over the holidays and so I figured I may be able to pick-up some much needed knowledge in the museum. That didn’t last long…. I almost fell asleep in the Space exhibit and still wanted to make it to Harrod’s so I continued along my way. I won’t bore you with the rest of my walk but will say that I arrived at Harrod’s to discover IT WAS CLOSED! Yes, closed. Apparently their big annual sale starts today and so yesterday they were preparing. I looked through the windows and saw 50% Burberry signs — I almost died. I put that on the list of things to do today…. Ended up back at the Norwegian home via Tube (no way was I going to walk another few miles in the cold) and hung out for the night with the other housemates.
Today, woke up not so bright and early (jet lag) and made it downstairs just before breakfast was ending. Housemates informed me of the joy of the Oyster card (for the Tube and Bus) and ended-up back on the Tube making my way to Liecester square. Mission was to score 1/2 price tickets for some show today. Got tickets for a 2:30 showing of Les Miserables for cheap. Spent the rest of the morning walking – to Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace just in time for the changing of the guard, past Parliament, past Westminster abbey and back to the West End in time for the show. Oh – I did get in a coffee and more people watching right before the show. I could write for hours on my findings but I won’t bore you with the American vs British Country fashions. I will say I can spot an American a mile away (as I’m sure others can spot me).
AMAZING. Absolutely freaking AMAZING is the only way I can describe Les Miserables. I can hardly sit through an hour and a half movie but this 3 hour show had me entralled through its entirety. So many symbolisms, meanings, lessons and principles that I think I could probably see it many many times before catching everything. That’s the only bad part about traveling alone…. no one to analyze and discuss with!
So…. I’m having a great time so far. My friends actually get in tomorrow. I thought I was going to meet them on the 30th to make our way up to Bath, however, just saw one of them online and have now revised plans to meet tomorrow 1:30 at Paddington station. I can’t wait to see everyone else too…….. I’m hoping to get in another show before I leave on the 2nd. I still have the British Museum on my list of things to do — hopefully tomorrow morning. Oh and Harrod’s never did happen today…….. apparently Dubai is not the only place that has a shopping holiday and based on the sales I probably wouldn’t have resisted. I also eyed a few wool coats that I don’t need considering I live in Phoenix. With no room in my pack everything would have had to be sent back anyway. That’s what I need to keep telling myself — no room, resist, Katie 🙂
Alright… off I go….