A Foggy Day In London Town. Not.
(Cue this jam. Now read.)
London, you are one snazzy town. I think London is just about the perfect city. The people are polished, the children are polite, everyone has the GREATEST accent, and there is teatime and royalty and the Union Jack. What else could you ask for? London's allure hinges on a pristinely manicured edge, balancing it's wizened history with the city's fresh, innovative air of confidence. Steeped in rich fairy tales of knights in shining armor and queens in crowns, this town hosts an entire dream life for a little girl. Or 25-year old girl... Or a 29 year-old man, because Stevie fell in love with this place as much as I did. Let me tell you why.
// A bit squinty in all that London sunshine. We'll take it. //
I'll Have the Royal Wedding Blend, Thank You, Jeeves.
The waiters are all walking around in coat tails. Oh my word, the fanciness of it all. Our dear friend Nabihah, with whom we stayed near London Bridge, wanted to give us a proper introduction to London. She actually used that term, in her perfectly classy British accent,
"Kristen, you need tea. In order to get a proper introduction to London, you need to take High Tea at Fortnum & Mason."
Well twist my arm. Tea time is one of my all-time favorite things on the planet, and it just so happens that Fortnum & Mason is the fancy of all teatime fancy. Fortnum & Mason is the queen's royal tea and food supplier. Thaaaaat's right. Me and Queen Elizabeth. We drink the same tea, so you could say we're thick as thieves these days. I ordered The Wedding Blend, which was created especially for Will and Kate's royal wedding. Tea time was so elaborate, with the crisp, lady-like linens set off by Tiffany-blue tea cups and saucers and petite sandwiches and lacy petit fors and clotted cream (which is heavenly). Oh. I could go on and on. We were sorely under-dressed in our unwashed hippie clothing, but Nabihah was too polite and un-judgemental to notice. She is one classy broad. I'd like to take etiquette lessons from her. I wanted to take pictures in the tea room but it was so formal that it felt wrong to whip out my camera. You know what I mean? Let's move on. Though I really don't want to. The memory of high tea really lives on.
We Did the Stuff. We're Not Slackers.
Post-tea time, we were off for the day. I kept expecting to see a very pregnant Kate Middleton traipsing around (this was pre-George), but alas, she was being good and staying home. Resting her bones. So we didn't catch any royal glimpses, but we were always hopeful. We walked through Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square, scouted for some cheap theater tickets (didn't find any) and then visited the Tower of London. This is the site of some serious historic action. Anne Bolyn and her infamous beheading (amongst many others), the Beefeater Tour, the White Tower, and the insane CROWN JEWELS. Holy cow. I've gotta get me some of those. I like to imagine that sometimes, her Royal Majesty wakes up, looks at the window, snaps her fingers and says, "Jeeves, I'd like to wear my jewels today. Just because I CAN. Fetch them for me, won't you my pet?" I mean, that's what I would want to do. Walk around that gigantic palace in my bathrobe and jewels. Maybe a cocktail in hand. I hope she does that, even if it's only once every few years.
More! And More!
We lunched on the Thames, caught an organ recital at Westminster Abbey, marveled at the footsteps of Parliament and Big Ben, wandered hand-in-hand through St. James Park (and Hyde Park, AND Princess Diana's delightful Kensington Garden), tried to stalk the queen at Buckingham Palace (she wasn't home, but her guards were pretty entertaining), enjoyed the epic British Museum (the epitome of an encyclopedia come to life) and the London Natural History Museum (British dinosaurs!), took a twirl on the London Eye, and tried to find Hugh Grant in Notting Hill. We were unsuccessful at that last one, but we decided that's where we want to live. When we move to London. In my dreams. I shall have a red front door. And maybe children who call me "Mummy." Oh gosh that is so friggin' delightful.
// Parliament. Union Jack flies high. //
// Who lied. These phones booths aren't quaint. They smell the equivalent to a urinal. //
Icing on the Cake.
One of the most spectacular parts of our London trip was seeing A Midsummer Night's Dream in the Shakespeare's Globe Theater. We bought 5-euro standing-room-only tickets and pushed our way as close to the stage as possible. Oh, we were close. I was absolutely enthralled. Thrilled. My age-old love for theater was ignited once again. These actors were FUNNY. And my God, they were so so talented. They brought Shakespeare to life in such a real way; you just know that guy was a piece of work. I was floored and all the more excited about getting back home and getting my audition material polished.
// Nighttime skyline. //
London made me feel strangely at home. You might say it was because everyone spoke English, but I really don't think that was why. I think London is a land of opportunity, of optimism and incredible poise. The dozens of busy cranes on the city's horizon only emphasize that I am not the only one who thinks so. The growth is spectacular and I love, love LOVED being a part of this bustling community for a mere moment.
The VERY End.
Well, this is it. I am sad for this epic trip's end, but thankful for the opportunity to have explored God's grand Earth. What a journey. What an education. My head is swimming with comparisons of Greek and Roman art, Michelangelo's brilliance to Da Vinci's nuance, Munich's foamy beer to Tuscany's articulate wine, Bavarian castles to French Gothic architecture, Pompeii's tragic tale to Britain's frilly monarchy, Amalfi's lemon orchards to Berlin's trailing Wall, the intoxicating Italian espresso, the spicy Spanish sausage, the sweet Parisian crepes, the decadent cheese, the - are you out of breath reading this yet? I am overwhelmed by just typing it. This trip is going to take a bit of time to process.
There's a Lufthansa flight back to New York and I. Am. On it.