The Natatorium

An emporium of oddities from around the world, complete with somewhat informative plaques that almost never match the item they are meant to be describing.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

WARNING: This is my Mother Talking.

Greetings from London! I finally have access to Natalie’s laptop as I am in her dorm room waiting until time to catch our bus to the airport then off to Paris! I have been so busy having an incredible time here. It is spring here and the daffodils are blooming everywhere. The weather has been great since Monday. Sun and 50’s. I am getting to be a pro now with the tubes (subways). Fortunately I arrived on a Sat. so Natalie and I had 2 days together for her to get me acclimated. The tubes are fast and cheap and of course easy or I wouldn’t be a pro. Depending on the time of day they can be very crowded and people are going as fast as they can. You have to keep up or risk getting ran over.

But now for the good stuff. On Saturday, after no sleep on the plane (smooth ride and landing) we went to Portobello Street. On weekends the street is blocked off and vendors line both sides of the street selling anything from antique jewelry to avocadoes. Very interesting and very crowded. I really enjoyed it but the highlight was helping a desperate dad find his little girl who I just happened to see run down the sidewalk into the crowd. Sunday was more shopping in Camden Town. It is the more bohemian area (cheap stuff) that Natalie likes. Then off to Trafalgar Square and the more chic Covent Garden shopping district.

While Natalie was in class Mon. – Wed. I went out on my own to see the tourist stuff. Big Ben is actually the name of the bell in the clock tower in Westminster (I thought it was the name of the whole thing!) Anyway, as I learned from my tour guide it weighs 13.5 tons and just the minute hand is 14 feet long. It is of course quite impressive and serves as a great landmark if you need to get your bearings. I walked –oh yes walking is a BIG part of the experience- down the south bank of the Thames. Tate Modern museum, the London Eye (ferries wheel) and spectacular views of the skyline are part of the walk. Then I crossed over the river to see St. Paul’s cathedral. I was going to go to the Tower of London but needed to get back to meet Natalie. It was a good thing I tried it another day because I was there for 3 hours to see it all. This is where executions of royalty were carried out back when they cut people’s heads off. It was considered a privilege to have your head whacked off here instead of out in a more public area. The crown jewels are housed here as well and one of the buildings has lots of displays of amour and guns. I enjoyed the building itself much more. Since I like old buildings I am definitely in the right place.

Westminster Abbey has been the highlight of my trip so far. I was lucky enough to go to the Evensong service they have at 5pm each day and sit in the choir loft next to the boy’s and men’s choir. It was so awesome. Sitting there in that breathtaking church and hearing the beautiful music was something I will never forget. The next day I went back to actually tour the rest of the building. The tombs of over 3,000 people are there including Shakespeare, Handel and Charles Dickens.

Natalie has informed me that we need to get going. I’ll write again if I can. Off to Paris!

--Donna

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