While here in London the group was able to see two shows; Mrs. Henderson Presents and Sunny Afternoon. Both shows were musicals and they were amazing!
Mrs. Henderson Presents was set during World War II in London. It focused on the Windmill Theatre. The Windmill is the only Theatre that did not close during WWII because they did the shows for the soldiers that were home from the war. It was a way to keep the soldier’s spirits up. The interesting thing about the Windmill Theatre is that they were the first Theatre to do nude performances. The catch for them to be approved for these performances was that the girls could not move on stage that way it was more like art then it was nude dancing. This performance was amazing. The music was beautiful. There was one scene where they simulated a bomb going off nearby during the Blitz that truly made you feel as if you were in the Theatre during the Blitz.
Watching Sunny Afternoon felt as if it was more of a concert than a musical, but it was absolutely amazing. I honestly thought that I would not know any of the songs that they would sing since I had never heard of The Kinks, but in reality I knew many of them. Come to find out many of The Kinks songs have been redone by other bands. The musical is set in the 1960s and it explains how they got started along with all there ups and downs in their career. One interesting fact that the musical pointed out was that The Kinks got banned from the US for 3 years. Maybe that is why they weren’t as well known. The band seemed to be the true British story since they came from a working class family and rose up slowly in the music business. I would recommend everyone to YouTube some of The Kinks music. I think you would be surprised how much of it you know. Below is a clip of one of there songs that most people know!
On our own time just about everyone else attended at least one more show. Two students went to a concert at the Royal Albert Music Hall and other students saw Phantom of the Opera. Myself and 7 students saw Taming of the Shrew at the Globe! I have to admit I have never read the play, but I have seen “10 Things I Hate About You”, which is based off of that play. It was a unique experience to be able to see a play in an open air theatre like it use to be done. It truly was an experience that I am still in awe over. Over all, I highly enjoyed the play and it honestly makes me want to start reading some Shakespeare.
On Sunday, May 15 we got to have a free day in London. We could do whatever we wanted as long as we had a buddy. Some students took a day trip to Blenheim Palace, others went on an adventure to find Abbey Road Studios, some decided to explore the London Dungons, and then a few of us had a shopping and park day. For my free day myself and two students did some shopping in the morning at the Jubliee Market and Tea House. The Jubilee Market is just a big open building with stalls upon stalls of vendors.
After the Jubile Market, which by the way is perfect for my price range, we decided to adventure to Oxford Street where you can find Selfridge’s department store. Now really this is no department store. This is basically a huge department store that is broken down into a bunch of little designer stores. To name a few of the designers that are located within Selfride’s would be Chanel, Burberry, Dior, Prada, Oakley, Ray-Ban, Kate Spade, and Michael Kors. Those are just a few of the designers that you can find there. Let me tell you it was sure an experience to be in that store, but I was afraid to touch anything! This would be the store to go to if you are every looking for anything that a designer makes!
After we decided we were done shopping we went and spent some time in Hyde Park. We got bikes and rode around The Serpentine, which is a pond in the park. The bike ride was a total adventure because it has been almost 10 years since I last rode a bike and everyone knows the saying “it’s just like riding a bike”, but what they don’t tell you is that remembering how to ride a bike again can have a rough start! Luckily we made it through the ride without any accidents. Along the way we got to see the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain along with the Holocaust Memorial Garden.
We ended up walking a little bit of the inner paths that bikes could not go on after we got done riding. There were some beautiful gardens and water features.
We ended up finding a nice spot in the park and spent the remainder of the afternoon people watching, reading, and journaling. It was really amazing to see how the park played such a big role in the life of Londoners. Everywhere you looked you saw people learning something new. Kids learning how to ride bikes or scooters, people of all ages learning to roller blade or ride a horse. There were also many groups of people that were salsa dancing or roller blading to music. It was a place for families to spend time together, friends to catch up with each other, or couples to enjoy a picnic. It was the place everyone wanted to be at on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. It was a perfect day to relax and enjoy London.
So I’m sure there are a few people out there that wonder how we have gotten around these few weeks in London. Well obviously we flew to London (otherwise it would have been a really long boat ride). We mainly have used the Tube and our feet. Below is a picture of the Tube map that we used to get around the city.
Also part of the Tube is the London overground, which is just a train. We also used a train to come back from Hampton Court Palace. We have taken a boat to Hampton Court Palace and to Greenwich. While visiting Hackney with Dr. Whooley we got the chance to ride a red double decker bus!
Some of us have been lucky enough to catch a ride in a black cab. I can’t believe the number of these that are on the streets and man are the streets crazy. You have to be very careful before stepping off the curb because you will get ran over!
Also some of us got to go for a gondola ride on the canal in Camden Town. I would highly recommend a ride on the canal because it was so interesting to see the city from the canal. There are many things that you miss when you are walking and you have to make sure you are not running into other people. We have two free days coming up to where students can either got back to some of the sites that we have already visited or they can adventure to somewhere that was not on our itinerary. I know on my free day I am going to rent a bike and take a nice ride through Hyde Park to find some beautiful gardens! This also lets me check another form of transportation off my list! As far as we can tell it seems that a helicopter is about the only mode of transportation that we haven’t used yet, but I think that is a little bit out of our budget!
Out of all the forms of transportation that we have used my favorite is the Tube. It really is a great system and so easy to use. The map is a little confusing and overwhelming at first, but once you use it a few times it’s not so bad. It truly has been an adventure of planes, trains and automobiles!!!
First off I want to thank all of you that have been patiently waiting for another blog post. I haven’t been very good about blogging this first week here, but let me explain. For this trip we have a very intense itinerary. Most days include a museum and a walk, which you might think “oh that’s not to bad”, but what they don’t tell you is that it is a half hour walk/tube ride (which most of the time you are standing on) and then walking the museum (which is at a minimum an hour normally). Then it’s time to go for a walk around town, which is not a nice stroll, but normally a speed walk, because I have really short legs, for normally two more hours. Then you have to calculate the tube ride back from where ever you are. Now please do not consider this complaining by any means. I am so thankful for this opportunity, but I am just pointing out that it is exhausting! Most days also consist of early mornings and then late nights. London has also been going through a heat wave since we arrived of about 80 degrees and a ton of humity, so that adds to the exhaustion once back to the room. I also never would have guessed how hard it was to keep grown adults in a group. So we have a term for the students on the trip which is ducklings. Every time we go anywhere I start to count my ducklings and let me tell you it is not as easy as it looks to keep the ducklings together. I am not saying that the students have been misbehaving because they are doing great, but they get very excited and very passionate about some of the sites that we visit or see on our walks. This means they may stop for a better view or picture or take a wider turn to see something a little better which can lead to a duckling getting lost in the crowd. The good news is so far we have not lost any of our little ducklings, so everyone can sleep well!
Ok so now that I have droned on about my excuses of not blogging, how about we get to the more exciting things. So what have we been up to since I last wrote a blog? We have been able to visit some really amazing palaces such as the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Household Cavalry Museum, London Transport Museum, Kensington Palace, and St. Paul’s Cathedral. We have also done some guided walking tours of different parts of London; The Famous Square Mile, West End Ghost Walk, Secret Soho & it’s Pubs, and The Blitz. All of the walking tours are about 2 or 2 1/2 hours long and I have learned so much on them. In no way shape or form am I a historian or history buff, but all of these place have been amazing to see.
If I had to pick one place that we have visited so are that was my favorite it would be St. Paul’s Cathedral. This one I enjoyed not because of the religious aspect, but because of the beauty of the cathedral. Unfortunately, we could not take pictures in the cathedral, but, take my word for it, it is the most beautiful cathedrals I have ever seen. The mosaics and dome paintings were amazing. There were different levels of the dome that you could visit; whispering gallery, stone gallery, or golden gallery. The whispering gallery was as far as my fear of heights would let me climb, which is about 257 spiraling steps. All of the students made it to the golden gallery which is the highest level and about another 280 spiraling steps up.
Also behind the high alter in the back of the cathedral was a beautiful , what I call a memorial, for all the American troops that lost their lives in Europe during World War II. Coming from a family that has a military background this was a very touching things to see. At this memorial they have a book at has the names of all the troops. Each day they turn one page and read the names of the troops. If I remember correctly from one of our tours, it takes about 14 months for all the names to be read and then they start all over again. This video below are the bells of St. Paul’s Cathedral. These bells are all pulled by hand still and there is no computerization in the pattern of ringing you hear. This went on for about 45 mins to an hour, but we were not sure why they were being rung.
My favorite tour so far is kind of a tie. I really enjoyed the ghost tour, but I think that I enjoyed the Blitz tour even more. I think that the Blitz just intrigues me. The whole fact of what was bombed was almost completely by chance since the accuracy was so poor just blows my mind (pun not invented, but fits nicely I guess). Also the reaction from the citizens of London I find very interesting. If you want more historical details you will have to talk to one of the majors. I can probably even point out the one that specializes in the topic is you want. One thing that really took me back to the Blitz during the tour was the planes over head going to the airport. During the tour you really focus on that time period. You focus on the feel of the city, the state of the building, the feelings that the people had. I could almost feel myself back in time during the Blitz and feeling the fear of hearing the planes over head and not knowing if you were going to see tomorrow. Not knowing if you would have a home or place of employement. It was a very scary thing.
We have had such amazing food since we have arrived here. I have a feeling I will not want to eat when I get home because every time I eat the food tastes so much fresher then at home. We have done traditional pub meals, China Town, a medieval banquet, and market vendors. My favorite has been the medieval banquet. We ALL wore costumes and enjoyed an outstanding meal along with a very lively show. It was so much fun to see all of the students get into the event. Plus we were encouraged to bang on the table as applause and to yell “Wench!” when we needed anything. It truly was a good time!
We have many more exciting adventures ahead of us in the upcoming days and I swear I will be getting better about blogging more often! I am also hoping to get some of the students on here soon, so you can hear from them!
As some of you know we had a late flight out of Detorit at 5:50pm on Monday night, which made us end up landing in London at 6:30am on Tuesday morning. If I could give someone who is traveling one piece of advice is SLEEP on the plane. I tried to sleep on the plane, but I’m pretty sure that I only got about an hours worth of sleep on the plane. That little sleep lead to a very interesting day on Tuesday. The plane ride was actually pretty great. We got some pretty cool little goodies on the plane that made the trip more comfortable and the food wasn’t horrible either.
Hello London! I am not sure if it normal, but when we were flying in the plane did a loop around London and we got such an amazing view of the city.
We got into the city around 7:45am on Tuesday morning, but the only problem was that we could not check into our hotel until 2:00pm. So what is the logically thing to do with 10 jet lagged and tired students? Get some breakfast and walk the city for hours of course! We walked for a couple of hours to see the area around our hotel and to show the students some of places they will be visiting on there own. We saw our home tube station, South Kensington, Albert Memorial, a little of Kensington Park, a few grocery stores, and restaurants.
Well it’s time for me to get ready for another exciting day. I know I will be posting again soon since there is plenty to say about our day on Wednesday and Thursday!
Well it’s 3:15pm and we have all arrived at our gate at the Detorit Meto airport. Gate 50A rocking out!
What to do now? Well so far half of us have gone on a walk and the other half is walking now. We have taken over a row of seats by our gate. Jordynn has made herself comfortable in a pile of coats and carry on bags.
Everyone else at this point is just hanging out and making the necessary calls to family. It should be a good trip and I know everyone is excited to get this adventure started.