It’s not every day your study break is stumbling onto a full military parade. But hey this is London and stranger things have happened. While I’ve spent most of the week studying or trying to study, I did manage to take a couple of breaks to soak in the last little bits of London while I still have the chance.
SATURDAY, THE MALL Headed out early this morning to meet up with Alexis, her friend from Michigan Allie, and Leandra at the Palace to watch the changing of the guard. After meeting up at Wellington Arch we headed to the palace only to discover the changing of the guard wouldn’t be taking place because there was a random military parade happening down the Mall. So not wasting the golden opportunity, we lined the Mall and watched the parade. We decided that the parade had to be a practice run for the trooping of the color later this month. I can’t lie, the Brits sure do know how to put on a show. After most of the parade had marched past, we walked down the Mall to Trafalgar Square and headed out to Abbey Road.
ABBEY ROAD After riding around the tube for a hot minute, and by hot, I mean like 95 degrees, we finally got out to Abbey Road. We got turned around for a while, but eventually, we made it to that crosswalk. Of course, we had to take the mandatory picture. I have to say it was pretty cool to be in the same place as one of the posters I’ve had in my dorm room.
THE STRAND By this point everyone was getting pretty hungry, so we headed back into central London to one of the cheapest places we all know and love: Weatherspoon’s. Weatherspoon’s is a massive chain of pubs here in the UK where you can always count on the prices being pretty good and the food not too shabby. The first one we went to next to Maughan Library was closed so we headed over to the next one a couple blocks away. After getting my fill of chips and fish we headed out yet again.
PRIMROSE HILL Somehow, we ended up just laying out and talking about life and London on top of the hill for what must have been the better part of an hour. It looked like half of London had the same idea because the hillside was covered by groups like ours enjoying both the beautiful weather and fantastic views of the city.
CAMDEN MARKET After getting properly crispy in the sun, we headed out to explore the Camden market. Somehow, I’d managed to not make it to any of the markets in the city in five months and I’m glad I finally did. The place was a cool hodgepodge of shops and restaurants and stalls. Based all on a canal, it felt like a cool, out of place part of the city. The window shopping, I did was amazing. After roaming around the market, we got on a bus back into the city where I bid everyone a last goodbye before we all headed back to the states in the coming days. For an impromptu day of random adventuring, I have to say it was pretty great.
WEDNESDAY, TOWER OF LONDON After spending most of the morning studying, I decided to head into town and check out one of the prime tourist traps I still somehow hadn’t managed to visit. The tower, which is honestly not all that big of a tower, was still very impressive. The place really is a fortress and I could see how the castle had survived for almost a millennium. While expected the main attraction of the crown jewels to be just about the only thing in the fortress, it turns out there were a bunch of other really cool things housed in the Tower. In the central Tower, there is the royal armory which houses arms and armor from the Kings of old. The full suits of armor and the horse armor were actually very impressive. I can’t imagine walking around in the stuff that’s for sure.
After exploring the armory, I headed over to the jewel house and viewed the crown jewels. Surprisingly they’re smaller than you think. Don’t get me wrong, they’re impressive but not as much as you would think. Personally, some of the more impressive things in the collection for me were the cutlery and tableware used for the feasts after the coronation. I’m talking solid gold plates, bowls, everything. There was a 144 bottle of wine punch bowl that took decades to craft because it’s so intricate. I guess the house of Windsor knows how to throw down.
In addition to the armory and the jewel house, the fortress also housed exhibits on its history of torture, use as a prison, executions, and as a military installation. The unit based at the tower even had a museum where they displayed some of the spoils of war they’ve captured over the years. It included everything from the standards of Napoleon’s legions to captured busts of Hitler and Mussolini. As tourist traps go, this one was actually pretty good if I do say so myself.
MONDAY, STRATFORD So I did a pretty big, impulsive thing today. I decided to kill off the beard and become clean-shaven for the first time in months. I had been planning to get rid of the beard before I left London but for some reason, I just grabbed my razor and went to town on it today. I won’t lie to you; my face does feel significantly lighter and summer-ready now.
Well, it’s all coming to an end. I have exams on Wednesday and Friday so wish me luck because I’ve forgotten how to school. I have less than a week now left in what has quickly become one of my favorite cites on earth. It’s a bittersweet time for sure. I have no more plans left besides whatever spontaneous desire come to me and how much my bank account will allow me to fulfill them. This is my last update from London. Come this time next Sunday, I’ll be fast asleep in my bed back home trying to catch up after 24 hours of no sleep and a healthy dose of jet lag. So, on that note, I have some verbs to conjugate, and we’ll catch up for one last time next Sunday. I’ll see you then.