Sunday, December 2, 2012

You Are a Very Beautiful: London Day 3

Day three was my last whole day exploring without Tom. The next day he worked about a half day and then we got to the actual couples exploring of England. But on this last alone day, I took my sisters amazing list of things to see at every museum in Europe, my great map of London, a few deep breaths, and I made out to see as many things as I could possibly see in ONE DAY. I focused on things that Tom either didn't want to see, or had already seen.

It was a big day, and it ended up leading me to the other side of London, which was great, until I walked far away from the tube stations and my right achilles started to bleed. I can see the good in that circumstance in retrospect. It was a needed experience for me. Somewhere around St. Paul's Cathedral I ran into a Boots Pharmacy and looked frantically for a Band Aid/bandage (it was a gusher). I looked and looked until I was sweating and limping. I think what happened was I rubbed the skin raw, until it bled. It didn't appear to be a blister at any point, so that must have been it.

Anyway, as my search got desperate, I ran up to a sweet elderly employee of Boots and made an American fool of myself. I was basically pantomiming.

Me: "Hi, I'm so sorry to bother you, but I'm American"

Lady: "Oh, yes."

Me: "And in America we have these things we call Band Aids, or Bandages" I pantomimed my right hand over my left index finger, in case she was an idiot. I'm more than 100% positive that I was the idiot.

Lady: (looks puzzled)

Me: "They're adhesive bandages....they go on your.... finger...sometimes?"

Lady: "Oh, you must mean PLAH-STERS (plasters)."

I nearly screamed at her, "Son of a freggin'---" And then I said, "I guess, yes, show those to me." Sure enough, she took me to the section under "plasters" and there were what we would call Band Aids. Until then, I had not had any 'Lost in Translation' moments in London. There went the neighborhood.

Lady: "It's different wherever you go, eh, love?"

I smiled and said in my head "It SHOULDN'T be." Maybe I was more of an American jerk in my head, actually.

I was grateful for her and I was glad that the plaster thing did it's job immediately and I could get through the rest of my sightseeing in peace.

The British Museum was first and....amazing! Did the 1 1/2 hour highlights tour, and was still blown away. Rosetta Stone? Check! Portland Vase? Shablam. Colossal Bust of Ramesses? Boom! Parthenon stuff that's better off in the British Museum probably? Bangerang!

This self-take of me with the Rosetta Stone was for dad: "Been there, done that." But of course I walked past it three times without noticing.  D'oh.
Rosetta Stone from the side
My next bedroom door
The Portland Vase. This was the inspiration for Wedgewood. And I LOVE Wedgewood. Period.

 I think the centaur is winning, dude. 
 Easter Island Head.  Seemed like it shouldn't be there, but it was.

Discovered that British signs (specifically at the British Museum) make no sense to me. I'm not saying they don't make sense to everyone, but the directional signs (with arrows) never made sense there. What's wrong with a simple up, down, left, right arrow? Why 18 arrows at 60, 30 and 10 degree angles that you always guess wrong on? I feel like Lewis Carroll designed that museum. Walking in, you had fallen deep into the rabbit hole. Still, that was one of the most impressive museums I've ever visited. I loved it. I missed my Dad and my sister Ashley, as I knew that it was their kind of museum.

After this, I bought some tourist things - of sound mind and body - in a bad tourist shop

I walked and walked a while, until I decided to go do St. Paul's Cathedral. That was pretty spectacular and very busy for some reason. Maybe that's an always thing? St. Paul's was my first cathedral and that made me feel kind of...I don't know.... it was beautiful and dark and had a whole section blocked off for real worshipers and an old lady singing this song about feeding the birds on the stairs, and a nanny flying with an umbrella.

 From there I had heard from an insider that one great experience to have while being near St. Paul's cathedral is eating in the crypt (I say dungeon) of Sir Christopher Wren's famous St. Mary Le Bow's church. I thought, why not? It was really surreal. But I ate a delicious tomato quiche. I couldn't get water to save my life, and the waitress got really nervous when I asked, "May I get some silverware?" she stared like I had just spoken Swahili and then said, "Do you mean cutlery?" Annnnd second lost in translation moment. Isn't it silverware there too? I don't know. I felt like I was being Punk'd. But The Cafe Below was a great choice.

St. Mary Le Bow

The Cafe Below: the crypt.
 A self-portrait regarding the somewhat ominous and yet delightful way it felt down there
From there I got myself incredibly and unnecessarily lost for a while. I finally figured out where Millennium bridge was and walked across so I could hit the Tate Modern and Shakespeare's Globe. Every part of that late afternoon was breathtaking, and I missed Tom. The weather was beautiful, the guy playing jazz saxophone outside the globe...great! Went to The Tate Modern and that was cool (good at some parts, meh at others) but the view of The Thames, with the bridges and St. Paul's = memorable and amazing.

After this, I was exhausted but decided that I had to see Harrods on the way home (for my mom, especially). I wasn't expecting to get off the tube stop and be staring at Harrods. That's how a lot of things in Europe were. I never thought that you'd just get out and there would be "_____." Harrods Christmas decor was enchanting, and the lively bagpiper was a pleasant surprise,  and the crowds were terrifying. I walked in for about 5 minutes and scraped my way back out.

I was ready for the company of my husband. It took me 4 or 5 transfers and a lot of waiting to get back to our hotel that night, and luckily I had the perfect soundtrack with me the whole time. It was Friday and rush hour, I suppose. Nuts.

Tom and I saw Skyfall that night. It was a somewhat surreal experience to see that particular Bond film in the UK. It was such a love song to England, and specifically to all the places we'd already seen. I was my dad in my head for two hours, "Been there, done that! Oooh! Went there today! Oooh! I was on that tube line today!" Jaheeeez. It was great getting to do that though. Unfortunately, it was the worst most talkative, disrespectful audience ever. We tried shushing, we tried politely asking. It never stopped. Sigh.

We both collapsed to sleep that night, but made big plans for our last days in London...TOGETHER!

Day 4: coming soon.

1 comment:

  1. Courtney, I absolutely love how you express yourself. What a great writer! And you certainly crack me up too:) Now, my dear, I hope you are taking good care of yourself after your emergency surgery. Coryn told me and I have been so concerned. Take care and take time to heal well. And I look forward to more of your London Adventure!