August 19, 2014

There's no Place Like London: Part 2

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I think every person over the age of 18 has their own personal "bucket list." That list of "To Do's" that don't include laundry, dishes, or grocery shopping, but rather the monumental check boxes, that if completed, lead to a life of fulfillment. 
I started forming my list at about the tender age of eight.
Mine was simple:
Read the entire Goosebumps series (check)
Receive the "Student of the Month" award for every year of elementary school (check)
Then I grew up, and my bucket list morphed into a more mature version of its earlier self:
Graduate College (check)
Marry a really amazing guy (check)
Receive my teaching credential (check)
Travel the world...
Have a baby...
I had checked all of my boxes. Except the last two. And in order to get to the "having babies" part, I knew I had to see a bit of the world. With London in particular. It has always been my # 1. The city that I most wanted to visit. My dream.
My husband asked me on our third day in London, " it everything that you've hoped and dreamed of??" 
My response?
"Nope. It's more." And that's not an exaggeration...

London 7.18.14
By our third day in London, my sleep schedule had adjusted itself accordingly. The husband's? Not so much. Poor fella had a rough time, but he was a good sport and went along for the ride as I dragged him all over London.
On the agenda for today?
The Tower of London
The British Library
The British Museum
Dinner in Soho

The Tower of London:
Oh, the Tower of London! Construction on the White Tower (the oldest portion of the entire complex) began in 1066 under the Norman king, William the Conqueror. Over subsequent years and under subsequent kings, the Tower was expanded to its present 18 acre size, and became its own little town. Over the years, it has served as a royal residence (it is still considered an official royal residence today), a prison and execution site, the royal mint, and the home of the crown jewels. Today, it is home to many Yeoman Warders, affectionately nicknamed "beefeaters," who guard the tower and the crown jewels that are housed there. The yeoman are retired military, and live within the walls of the Tower with the families. They offer daily tours to visitors, and provide very colorful and entertaining commentary. But make no mistake...while they're quite entertaining, they take their job as keepers of the tower very seriously! My favorite part of the tour was the Beauchamp Tower (pronounced beech-um), where many of the Tower's most famous prisoners were housed. The cell walls are full of graffiti etched into the stone by the prisoners housed there. The most common theme of the graffiti seemed to be the family name of the prisoners, or their family crest. 

The British Library:
After six hours at the Tower of London, we were exhausted. It was our hottest day in London, and we were drained. But I KNEW I needed to get to the British Library. It was out of our way and about to close, but we hopped on the Tube, and made it inside with 10 minutes until closing. I just knew that I needed to see the Magna Carta. When you have the opportunity to see such an influential document, both for the country of its origin, as well as the country of your birth, YOU SEE IT! And I did. I cried. I know...who cries over a piece of paper? Well, I do, and I'm perfectly okay with it. We had a few minutes to browse, and I think my mouth remained open the entire time as names such as Shakespeare, Austen, The Beatles, Dickens, and Beowulf looked out at me from behind glass cases. It was heaven. Sorry...I only got one picture. I was more concerned with filling my ten minutes with sheer bliss than snapping any photos, but just know that it was A-MAZING!

The British Museum:
After our whirlwind of a visit to the British Library, we popped over to the British museum to take in the sites there. One thing about the museums that we visited while in Europe- they can be overwhelming (to say the least). There is SO much to see, that if you try to see it all, you will spend days in one place. And I'm not exaggerating. This was the case in the British Museum. So we picked and chose what we wanted to see, and just kind of browsed the rest. My one destination in the British Museum? The Rosetta Stone! I've been teaching bout this hunk of stone for years, and it was absolutely surreal to see it in person. I cried. Again.

Dinner in Soho, and a stroll through Piccadilly Circus:
The boy and I are not the party type. Like, at all. Our idea of a party is dinner and a movie. BUT, we did both want to see the night life in London, at least for one we decided to dine in Soho. Let's just say, Graham was not its biggest fan. He doesn't do well with large crowds and mobs of people. So, Soho was not his favorite place to be. While I enjoyed observing the crowds and the energy of Soho, one night was definitely enough for me! As we headed home, we passed through Piccadilly just as storm clouds rolled in. It was absolutely beautiful to see the dark clouds roll over the illuminated buildings. Beautiful, that is, until the clouds decided to open up...

London 7.19.14
Our last day in London began with both excitement, and increasing depression. I did NOT want to leave London. So I soaked the day up the best I could. 
On the agenda?
A Beatles Tour
St. Paul's Cathedral
Hyde Park

The Beatles Tour:
My husband's capacity for and retention of musical facts is quite impressive. He grew up on The Beatles, and is a huge fan. So, when I began planning the trip, I knew that a Beatles tour was a must. When the day came, there were still so many other things I wanted to see, so he suggested that we scrap the tour. My sweet husband. There wasn't much that he asked for on this trip (besides a little more sleep). He knew this was my dream, so he took a back seat to all planning, and did WHATEVER I wanted to do. No way were we giving this tour up. He deserved it for putting up with my annoying energy levels on this trip. And I'm REALLY glad we went. We went with the "London Walks" Company, and our snarky tour guide was just perfect! We got to see some parts of London we wouldn't have otherwise seen, and got to end the tour at the iconic Abbey Road Studios. 

St. Paul's Cathedral:
Can I just say, "wow?!?" Construction on St. Paul's began in 1675 (after the Great Fire of 1666 burned it down) under the direction of the architect Sir Christopher Wren. The church wasn't finished until 1710, but it was definitely worth the wait! We weren't allowed to take any pictures inside St. Paul's, so you should probably google it because it is absolutely breathtaking. The most impressive component is the dome, which is actually three domes in one. The inner dome provides a more shallow "ceiling" of sorts so that worshippers don't feel overwhelmed by the massiveness of the structure while inside, and the immense outer dome is tall to impress viewers from all around the city. It is a grueling 528 steps to the top of the dome, and I'm pretty sure that I worked off all of the calories consumed on the trip in that one ascent. But the views! So worth the climb. 

Hyde Park:
After all of the Regency Era novels that I have read in my lifetime, a stroll through Hyde Park along the Serpentine was a must. It was the perfect end to a lovely day, and one of the highlights of our trip. My husband appreciated the respite, and I loved the views.

Oh, London. I loved everything about it! From its crazy drivers to its jaw-dropping history, I couldn't get enough. As I felt panicked by the fact that I didn't get to see everything, I kept telling myself, "it's'll be back one day." And that's a fact. I will. I think the only thing that made leaving London palatable, was the fact that we were headed to Paris...
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  1. Whitney I'm so jealous but so glad that you are blogging about your amazing trip. I love the voice in your writing, as well as your enthusiasm, knowledge, and love for history. It really brings the trip alive! I anxiously await Paris part two!

  2. I second everything Elizabeth said!
    Cant wait♡ Thank you Whitney for taking us there.



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