Okay folks so I’m a bit late on the update. It has been a heck of a couple of days full of good fun; hence I’ve had no time to check in.
London was a great time for sure. I arrived early Saturday morning to Heathrow which was just as much of a mess as everyone says it can be (and I’m used to LAX!). My hostel wasn’t ready to accept me at 10 am but I took a shower and left my things for later, heading out on the town to meet up with Joe’s friends. I stopped into Starbucks for a quick dose of caffeine and got back on the tube with my day pass in hand (at £5.15 it was a great deal compared to the £4 one-way – for those of you playing along at home, £1 roughly converts to $2).
First stop was Buckingham Palace which I thought was a bit like the White House – you stop by and realize there’s nothing to do, then keep walking. Of course, I happened to arrive during the official anniversary celebration of 54 years since the Queen’s coronation, and tons of people were camped out on the surrounding lawns. There was no mention of this, and I chalked it up to wacky Commonwealthers not being able to get enough of watching the Palace for signs of life. Certainly nobody would do that in the States, but there seems to be something in the water across the pond here.
Next was Westminster Abbey with its gaudy tombs and shrines. I guess it was nice to see where such greats as William Wilberforce is buried and it certainly wasn’t something I would have missed, but the £7 price tag brought a sense of disdain for the Sterling, and pride that a city such as Washington is so entirely free.
I met James at the prescribed time of 1 pm and we walked towards the London Eye while munching on our sandwiches. A scoot back across the Thames took us to Trafalgar Square (where something happened a long time ago) and Covent Garden (where rich people go to shop for brands that are cheaper in the States). Through SoHo we trekked, stopping to have some water on the hot and humid day in the city (apparently I brought the warmest of weather with me – so much so that half of the city was shirtless).
I quickly understood why so many say that I’d fit in well here – the look in London is put-together and slim. I’m not sure what I think of some of the fashion choices, but I can appreciate the dares for what they’re worth, and the much more standard fit of clothing than one might see Stateside.
I went home to take a brief nap before heading to dinner and clubbing with James and company. Dinner was great – a vegan place called Maggie’s that had a great choice of dishes – and clubbing was wild – who’dathunk that there’d be great Latin dancers hanging out in London. I climbed aboard a bus to get home and, with the help of two local women, reached the doorstep in good time (4 am).
The next morning was late and I had to hurry to change my room from a booking snafu. I “chucked” my stuff into the new room (according to the Aussie at the front) and grabbed some more Starbucks to perk me up (pun totally intended). It was another beautiful day out and Hyde Park became my oasis in the city on the way to the Tate Modern. Unfortunately, I arrived just a few days too early for an exhibit showing a timeline of photos of the world’s big cities and how they’ve grown (LA being one of the featured), but browsed through the free galleries with a smile on my face. Mark Rothko, Roy Lichtenstein, and others were on display in the permanent collections, housed in an incredible old warehouse. The Design Museum down the street was also a stop, but left a bit to be desired – oh well, I had to see it anyway.
A half-hour walk landed me at St. Paul’s, the gem of London (if perhaps only from the inside). The halls are adorned pristinely but I unfortunately missed visiting hours since I was there on a Sunday. I didn’t feel appropriate going to the upcoming service in what I was wearing, so my stay was brief and not photographed.
Back at the hostel, I met my new roommates: a cool kid from Buena Park, CA and Kay, a Johannesburg transplant who was reading The Purpose-Driven Life (which I just picked up to read during my time in Nairobi). We didn’t talk long as I had to get some rest before arising at 6 am the next morning to get on my flight in time. Some more congestion at Heathrow and not hearing my boarding announcement in the BA Terrace Lounge almost got me in trouble, but I managed to get on my flight in time and safely here to Kenya.
This post has become much too long to detail anything that Kenya has shown me, so I’ll save that for tomorrow. Things happen both quickly and slowly around here, so I’m excited for what is to come – I’ll be sure to keep you posted. Until then, Peace.