Greetings from Bloomsbury! That’s the part of London we are staying in and it is beautiful! We’ve been here for about three days and it already feels like home. After we emerged from the airport, bleary-eyed from the overnight flight and time zone change, we were whisked off to our academic center in the city. It’s a huge place that spans about five old London homes and is shared by many American universities. It’s where we will have classes and it’s only a 5 minute walk from our apartments (which is good for the days when I wake up 10 minutes before class starts).
The first few days were filled with a good balance of touring and getting settled into our apartments…I mean flats. I have two roommates and our space is exactly how I pictured it, complete with high ceilings, marble mantels, large french doors and a set of keys that look like they are from 1802. But we have a well furnished kitchen which has a washing machine! But our location in the city is my favorite part. We are a few blocks from the British Museum, a tube station, the grocery store, the drug store, movie theater and a LOT more. It’s very convenient to be that close to everything and makes life easier.
We’ve already been to the Borough Market, which is located under the London Bridge (which I learned is different from the TOWER Bridge next to the Tower of London- but that is what a lot of people think). On Saturdays it is tasting day so we got to sample numerous cheeses, sauces, baked goods and breads. I tried a piece of a brownie and the baker was going on and on about the ingredients but I couldn’t understand a word he said so I just smiled and nodded. It was so fun to interact with the vendors and hear people talking. Sometimes it’s like a whole different language. So many words are different and the pronunciation is strange to me. But I’ve learned that many English people are very subdued in public. They don’t speak loudly, they walk quickly and deliberately, and they don’t seem too phased by that fact that we are American. Although, that might also be a product of life in the city. But assimilation is key and we’ve all been trying to resist the urge to shout on the street and mosey too slowly down the sidewalk… I mean pavement.
So after the market, we continued to walk and got to see some pretty amazing sights. I was very surprised when we were strolling along the bank of the Thames and all of a sudden, the Globe was just chilling there. It’s kind of hidden from view by trees and gates, but it was huge and glowed white in the sun.
I think we are going to see at least one production there and perhaps get a backstage tour. But they also have five pound matinees for students and they are putting on some good shows right now. So there is no doubt I will be writing more about that in the future!
We also happened upon the foot bridge that was featured in the sixth Harry Potter movie, when the death eaters are wreaking havoc on London muggles and cause it to collapse.
It’s called the Millennium Bridge and in the picture you can see how it leads right to St. Paul’s Cathedral. It’s ironic (or perhaps just intentional) that it falls down in Harry Potter because it was closed for two years after it first opened because pedestrians caused it to sway and wobble. But I assure you, now it is perfectly safe. We even saw a photographer and some models having a small photo shoot on the ramp.
One thing I have learned is that if you don’t bring an umbrella with you, it will most certainly rain. And the London fog is no myth. Not three minutes before this picture was taken, the skyline was completely clear. But you can still just about make out Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the London Eye in the background.
To celebrate our arrival, we are going to see War Horse tonight in the West End. I saw an excerpt from it during the Tony’s this summer and I was amazed at the props; they use beautifully constructed puppets and actors (who must have very strong backs) to create real live horses on stage. My first London play!!
Well, I am getting very excited for all that is to come. We have many things planned and I can’t wait to share them with you!