One Week Down!

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!

Everyone's feet during our walk through St. James Park and to Buckingham Palace
Everyone’s feet during our walk through St. James Park and to Buckingham Palace

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.

View from Stone Gallery at St. Paul's Cathedral
View from Stone Gallery at St. Paul’s Cathedral

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.[youtube][/youtube]

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.

Everyone except Dr. Ellis dressed up at the Medieval Banquet

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!

Until next time,