Monday, June 7, 2010

London Saga: Part 1

Before I start, I must confess that I am an absolute awful blogger. (Take a look at the date of my last blog post.)

But as a requirement for my program here in London, I'm required to journal every day. So hopefully, that'll keep me accountable, at least to an extent.

A few requisite facts about this thirty-part saga. The "prelude" or "prologue" to this saga would be my approximately 12 part journey through Spain, Italy and France. But that's for another day, or perhaps another blog post.

I'm studying at Regent's College in London, located inside the beautiful Regent's Park, which is filled with a bazillion variety of roses, many, many birds and squirrels that are too friendly for anyone's good. There is a cat on residence named Sooty, which is always a good sign.

Today was my first official day of class. We're working on Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent, and I must secretly confess that the last third of that book is kind of a blur for me. This is extremely strange when considering that the last third is when the most interesting events occur. We have a quiz tomorrow on the book, and I'm kinda nervous. I'm in summer, not classroom mode.

Because I forgot to set my clock up an hour from Paris time, I ended up waking up an hour earlier than intended. Not a problem - I took a wonderful stroll through Regent's Park and down Baker's Street. (I live right near Sherlock Holmes's house, where there is a very cheesy and very overpriced 'Sherlock Holmes Museum' that I have been advised to avoid.)

In the morning, we have 'class' in the traditional sense - a classroom, etc. Our afternoons, however, are far more interesting.

Today, after lunch, we went to St. Paul's Cathedral and explored the bowels of the magnificent building, including the crypts. I pretended to be British and honored the memory of Nelson and Wellington. Then I climbed the bazillion and a half steps to the top of the dome of the cathedral and enjoyed the most beautiful view of London.

When I was in Paris, I told a tour guide of mine that I was going to London. He promptly replied, "I hate London."

When prompted for an explanation, he told me, "London is so disorganized. In Paris, you'll see that all the buildings look at least somewhat similar. A city isn't a city if there's no coherency."

I could definitely see a complete lack of organization in the London skyline - a haphazard smorgasbord of buildings in architectural styles ranging from Gothic to '60's brutalism, expressionism to Classical.

I loved it.

Maybe I'm just inherently disorganized, or perhaps I simply feel awed in the face of such monumental and carefree chaos. Or perhaps I'm just a gawking American tourist who is amazed by all things British.

Oh, and as a side note - a few London things I love:

1. The WC, or wash closet
2. The phrase 'Adverse Camber'
3. The names of the Underground lines (Bakerloo,  Hammersmith & City and Jubilee, among them)
4. Rooms are not 'vacant' or 'empty'; they're 'vacant' or 'engaged'

Ahem. So anyway, after St. Paul's Cathedral, we walked across the Millenium Bridge  - yes, the one that was destroyed in movie version of Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince - and we went right to Tate Modern, which is an absolutely awesome contemporary art museum. We viewed an exhibit entitled 'Flux' with a wide range of art from Matisse to Picasso, Warhol to Rodin, and lesser-known names in between.

After that came a walking tour of the south side of the Thames from the Tate Modern all the way down to Lester Square. We passed Big Ben, Parliament, the Prime Minister's Residence, Nelson's Column and the London Eye. The best part? It didn't rain at all.

After dinner in an Irish pub called Waxy's (don't ask), we watched Les Miserables in all its dramatic, unadulturated, love-at-first-sight misery. Don't get me wrong - I loved the play. It's epic, sometimes too much so, but mostly all in the right places.

It was raining when we left the theater, so I enjoyed a pleasant walk back from the Baker Street tube station to my dorm room - and now I am updating my blog! :-)

Hopefully these posts will become less of rote recitations of my activities and more thought-provoking in the future. Despite the fact that this blog has been around for several months now, my level of activity still renders me a novice.

That's everything for today - I'm exhausted and ready to sleep. Good night!


  1. That sounds awesome, Rachel! Don't forget you promised to photoshop me into some of your pics to make it seem like I was there. ;)

  2. @Ashy - I'm having a wonderful time thus far, except for the fact that I've been unfortunately sick. But that'll probably be a topic for today's blog post.

    @Annie - Oh, of course! I haven't gotten around to posting pictures yet, but that's definitely on the agenda.