Despite the lack of sleep and luke-warm bottled water on the flight, great conversation, new friends, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo got me from JFK to Heathrow in good spirits. For the record: walking through an airport with two checked bags and transporting them to any place is not a task for the weak.
Settling in to our flat was surreal. The South Kensington area was so pristine and perfect and posh, it was hard to believe that we were going to live here for three months. While filled with pent-up anxiety, we were ushered to a riverboat tour of the Thames. On Tuesday, September 4th, we finally felt like we were here. Sights of the Parliament Building, the Victoria Tower, the London Eye, and Millennium Bridge met our gaze as we cruised towards Greenwich. Once we landed, we explored Greenwich as much as we could before getting too hungry. Our collision course of exploration led us to the Prime Meridian, the Paralympic Venue in the Greenwich Park, and the Cutty Sark.
Classes only imposed on one day out of our first week, but even this imposition was welcomed. In my British Law course, we took a field trip to tour the Supreme Court Building and see Parliament in session.
Friday included an undeserved day-off and a lovely trip to tour Buckingham Palace. One simply cannot visit London without immersing themselves in the grandeur of the monarchy…no matter their views on it. The Palace was as magnificent as expected. Extravagance as far as the eye could see. Event the cafe on the patio was extravagant! (That was the most expensive apple juice I’ve ever purchased.) The extravagance also extended to the Diamond Jubilee exhibit currently on display. Never in my life had I thought that I would say, “wow, that is a nice tiara,” but her highness proved me wrong upon this visit.
To round out a rather eventful week, we went on a Panoramic Tour of London. We saw all of the basics, including Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Tower of London. We even were able to cheer on some USA Paralympic athletes during the marathon. To stray from our patriotism, we loved the Tower of London. Not only did it have its own moat, but it housed the Crown Jewels. In addition to the monarch’s trinkets, we witnessed the power and shear awesomeness of the tried and tested weapons of the medieval time while in the white tower. Just for the record, stay away from the ravens!