Hello from London!
Julie and I would like to acknowledge our brief blogging hiatus. We can only imagine the tears that have been shed in the last two weeks over our lack of Internet presence, and we’d like to formally apologize for any emotional damage we may have inadvertently caused. But don’t fret, my friends, we are back.
I write to you from my lovely little hostel in South Kensington, where I really should be doing some work for my Travel Writing class. (I’m writing in London for two weeks with eleven other students and a professor from my university. I may have found heaven.) There is so much to do in this city it makes my head spin. But we’ve been adventuring, researching, and writing, and I’ve made some interesting discoveries in the past week.
Things I’ve Learned in London:
- There are three different pictures that you could see at a crosswalk sign: green man, red man, and no man. Green man means go ahead, the road is clear. Red man means look both ways and sprint across if you’re feeling adventurous, but don’t say we didn’t warn you. No man means if you try to cross now, you WILL be hit by a double decker bus. It took a few close calls for us to get the hang of this system. (Double decker buses drive with sports-car confidence.)
- The bridge behind us is actually called the Tower Bridge, while the London Bridge is what we’re standing on.
- The Brits don’t believe in paper towels.
- The forecast for London in January is always rain, even if the forecast is not actually rain.
- A wax figure Justin Timberlake doesn’t like my jokes nearly as much as real Justin Timberlake would.
- Questioning the Queen’s power in a not-so-quiet voice in front of Buckingham Palace is NOT an act of treason, though it is generally frowned upon. (I may have wondered aloud, in front of the palace gates, if the people of Britain enjoyed the Queen taking all of their tax dollars. In retrospect, not the brightest thing I’ve ever done, but it was a relief to find out that freedom of speech in the UK is more in vogue than its ancient statutes on treason. Four hundred years ago, I probably would’ve been burned at the stake.)
- Stonehenge might just be the strangest tourist site in the world. (Welcome to the pile of rocks, we’re not sure exactly how they got here, or anything else about them for that matter, but they’re rather large and if you pay a thirteen pounds you’re welcome to go look at them.)
- The Abbey Road crosswalk looks a lot like every other crosswalk in London.
- Coins here can be worth as much as one or two pounds, so dropping them on the sidewalk and thinking “eh, face-up, it’ll be someone else’s lucky day!” isn’t as popular a practice as in the United States.
- The geese in Hyde Park are ENORMOUS.
- Platform 9 3/4 stands clearly marked at King’s Cross Station, and is staffed by two employees dressed in Hogwarts garb who will make fun of you while holding your scarf for a photo op.
Today we’ve spent most of the day drafting our next piece of travel writing, but tomorrow we’re visiting the sets of Harry Potter. THE ACTUAL MOVIE SETS. If a career as a writer doesn’t work out, Professional Harry Potter Tourist is next on the list. (I’m sure that would pay well, right?)
For now, enjoy these sophisticated snapshots of London taken from my iPhone, and you’ll be hearing from Julie next week!