Friday, July 5, 2013

July 4th in London

We got up early in Cardiff. I was still feeling quite ill, but we managed to leave the hostel around 9:00 a.m.. We hiked to the Queen's Street Station in Cardiff, our bags in tow. I thought how much I would miss Wales. The Welsh language, th beautiful countryside, and the endearing culture  all became a part of my heart. I hope to be able to return to Wales one day. Perhaps I could return to teach English! We transferred to train that went directly from Cardiff to London Paddington at Cardiff Central station. The train was posh and comfortable. Some people played cards on the way to London. When we arrived in London, we waited in a long line at the giant Paddington station in order to get our Oyster Cards figured out. We bought everyone an Oyster Card with unlimited travel for 35 pounds a week. It didn't seem like that bad of a deal to me. When we finally got on the tube, we started to head toward our flats. After a little confusion, we finally managed to get on the right train and going in the right direction. This, however, was after some people had lugged their luggage up a flight of stairs unnecessarily. After this little mishap, we walked from the Tube stop to our flats. The flat is nice. Somewhat bare, but it has just about everything I could need. We sat through a long orientation with a friendly Irish man named Michael. Several of us were dozing off. For some reason, London is incredibly hot these days. That first night we didn't do much. We did a little bit of shopping at the Co-Op and we explored a bit. The area we are staying in is fairly nice. We all split a pizza for dinner. It was nice to have a cheap meal that was somewhat filling. I am probably not eating enough lately. Food can be so expensive here! We also had a small fourth of July celebration with marshmallows, hot dogs, and games. It was quite fun, even if the flat that we had it in was incredibly hot.

Today we woke up and worked our way to the Tower of London. My 55,000 closest friends also decided to visit the Tower today. One word: crowded. The line to see the Crown's Jewels was at least an hour. I really enjoyed seeing all the exhibits on everything from torture to famous prisoners and ravens and everything in between. I also was shocked at the beauty of the Jewels. I can see why people would wait in such a long line to see them. The diamonds were huge, and the gold objects impressive. After our time at the Tower, we went on a walking tour of Dickens's London. We saw all kinds of interesting things including the hall where 12th Night was first performed! Our guide was knowledgeable about Dickens. We also learned about his life, and we saw some of the places that were pertinent to Dickens's life. Some highlights included the Old Curiosity Shop, Dickens's childhood workplace, Dickens's home/publishing location for a long period of time, and the places where some of his characters lived. The entire tour made me want to read more Dickens! The tour left us pretty exhausted, so we headed back to the flats. We had fish and chips from a tiny little shop. Then we headed home. I did some laundry. We tried to plan tomorrow, but the number of things to do is astronomical. We cannot plan when there are at least 100000000 things to do! I hope to be able to see Evensong tomorrow and walk the Millennial Mile. We'll see what adventures tomorrow brings!

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