Tower of London

Tower of London

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Checking In...

Hi Everyone,

Sorry it has been so long since the post. We have been extremely busy here. Here is what the last week has looked like:

*** Friday: Day trip to Stratford Upon Avon where I Visited the birth home of Shakespeare, the Shakespeare Museum (very cool), the local public library, and was able to see an amazing production of As You Like It at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

*** Saturday: Day trip to Dover and Canterbury. We explored the Dover Castle (amazingly beautiful, the London you dream of with the sprawling green hills and big stone castles). We drove by the Cliffs on the way home. Unfortunately, I do not think my pictures came out that great (something about bus glass does not make for Nikon moments!), but they were beautiful as well. Apparently, the cliffs are white because they are chalk-not limestone as many people think.

Canterbury was fun too. We went to the Canterbury Cathedral. We were really limited on time, so we did not get to explore as much as I would have liked, but the town is adorable. It definitely is reminiscent of the Canterbury you would expect of Chaucer's time.

*** Sunday: Day trip to Stonehenge and Winchester. Stonehenge. Nuff said. Very cool. The cue for the site was a little surprising-it was fun because you walk around in a big circle with a million other people and everyone is taking pictures. It was dark and gloomy too, how perfect!!!!

Favorite moment: When you get to the end of the circle there is a big jam and everyone is trying to exit (through the gift shop of course) and a little French child of about 8 who knows just enough English to yell at you to hurry it up (which he emphatically tells you in English and French several times) and physically displays how to push through the people in front of you. I don't believe in spankings, but someone certainly needed one.

I must apologize to all of the people who should have received a cool "Stonehenge Rocks" tshirt (get it?!). The gift shop was a million times worse then the end of the line, (which was obviously no picnic) so I bolted back to the bus in hopes of avoiding any more of Stonehenge's evil influences.

Then it was on to Winchester and back to the cobblestone roads and quaint shops. We took a quiet afternoon to just stroll around the town and enjoy England.

*** Monday: Riverboat Ride on the Thames to the Greenwich Maritime Museum and Observatory in the morning and after a boat ride back in the afternoon, Parliament, Big Ben, and a walking tour.

So, I was loving the boat ride and could have stayed there all day, but the Maritime Museum and Library was really cool too. I have to do a thorough blog about that later for my class, but let's just say for now that pirate history is awesome! Of course, I also went up to the Observatory and stood on the prime meridian.

A group of us decided to take another London Walks tour (if you are ever in London, they are really the best way to see the city) in order to see Parliament. We were treated to Big Ben and other several other pieces of local history, but the best part was that we were able to go and sit in as Parliament was in session! It was a happy coincidence that this worked out because this tour is only offered on Mondays and this was our only free Monday to do it and this was the last day they were in session until November. Score!

The House of Lords was good (and the chamber was brilliant), but the House of Commons is the place to be. If you ever have a chance to see it on CSPAN, do not miss out. Yes, this is really how the government runs! They heckle each other, go out for a pint in the middle of session, take a nap during gruelling all day sessions and are generally what would be a classroom teacher's worst nightmare! I have not watched enough of CSPAN myself to see how this compares to the U.S. Senate and Congress, but I bet they would all be a lot more friendly towards one another if they took a few minutes for a friendly time-out once and again. In all seriousness, this was one of the highlights of my trip. Our London Walks tour guide, Angela, was fantastic and everyone at Parliament was a pleasure to speak to. (Another funny story will be up about our encounters in a later blog!)

If you want to check out more about the London Walks and see what all the fuss is about, go to

*** Tuesday (today): Dickens' Home, Class Photo at Platform 9 3/4, The British Museum and the Sherlock Holmes Pub

I am not going to say much about the British Museum because I have to do a blog entry for class about it, but I have a confession. I had a little episode today. The Museum is all you could hope for and more in a museum. I saw the Rosetta Stone and a wonderful exhibit about Japan from pre-history through today. But it is overcrowded (thousands of visitors is so not an understatement), tourists here have no problems pushing you out of the way (literally, I have been shouldered so many times since I have been here it is amazing I don't have a bruise), and the museum is so inclusive and overwhelming in its scope that I had just had enough. In the city, there is so much coming at you from every angle that your senses are completely overloaded. I have not had a chance to really process that I am even in London, never mind all of the amazing stuff I have been seeing and doing while here.

So, instead of a panic attack, I made a quick exit, called my travelling buddies and told them I would meet them back at the flats (a little too cheerily I was later told for them not to notice I was freaking out since I had been so quiet at lunch). It worked out for the best. It was the first time I have been able to maneuver the tube by myself and it felt good. I had a little alone time and a nap and now I am back to feeling like my self. I did buy a new journal while I was at the museum, so I can now begin to process this whole trip and make sure I don't miss anything. Yes, I am sorry, but there is a story or two not fit to print (mostly because they are boring or are not my stories to tell)!

And yes, the Sherlock Holmes Pub was as cool as it sounds! It is not 221 Baker Street, but it was a wonderful prelude to that adventure.

Well, I hope I have made up for lost time. I am putting pictures up and I will be making a slide show when I get home for the few brave people who want to see the whole shebang! Tomorrow, I must spend time in the computer lab doing my school posts. I am so far behind with them that I am spending more time feeling guilty about it than doing anything else. I just don't want to miss anything during my limited time in London.

So, you will see some more posts tomorrow (or please email me privately to yell at me if you do not!) Keep reading, the best is yet to come!

Love Always,


  1. Deep breaths, deep breaths, Melissa.

  2. Hi Miss,
    Sounds like your very busy and having lots of fun. Keep it up?

    love ya