the next day we got up early and had our usual toast/coffee/”juice” breakfast. we still haven’t completely adjusted to the time, so we wake up early w/ no need for an alarm. all the loud noise of people banging around in our room and slamming doors at odd hours helps us wake up too 😉 .
our first stop of today was the tower of london. this is this huge castle in the middle of london, and is where the royal family used to live. we got a tour and learned all about the history of the place and all about the brutal executions that used to go one there. one of the interesting things we learned on the tour was that all of the waste from the castle was just dumped into the moat surrounding it. can you imagine how bad this place would have smelled being surrounded by a stinky cesspit of human waste mixed w/ garbage?? yuck! after the tour we walked around the castle a bit.
this place was really cool. it’s really neat to be able to walk through places that you know are hundreds and hundres of years old. and it’s pretty crazy to think that even though ths castle is roughly *1,000* years old, that during our trip we’re gonna visit places that are 3 times as old as this. a couple other cool things that we saw there were: the crown jewels (unbelievable how much gold/gems they had there), the ravens (there’s a myth about if the ravens leave the tower, england will fall), and all sorts of crazy suits of armor and old medieval stuff. it’s really weird to me to think that knights actually existed. in my mind they seem like just another mythical thing you find in stories like unicorns, dragons, etc…
After checking out Tower Bridge, we grabbed a bite to eat. i decided to just go for it and ordered sheppards pie which is ground beef in gravy with baked mashed potatoes on top. it tasted really really good! it’s so weird though… i haven’t eaten any kind of red meat in over 3 years. it’s been really difficult for me to decide whether or not to eat red meat on this trip, but in the end i finally decided to do it. i’ll probably go back to just eating fish and fowl when i get back though. i also tried some of caryn’s Bangers and Mash, (weird mushy hot dogs w/ mashed potatoes and gravy) so now i’ve officially tried the three main foods i associate w/ the uk.
after lunch we crossed town on the tube. dude, this tube is so great. you can get to any part of london in pretty much no time flat, and it’s easy to navigate. why the hell dont we have these things on the west coast? you’d think san jose especially, being so spread out, would wise up and have a subway system.
when we’re not in the underground, we try to naviagte around the streets of london, and let me tell ya, it’s crazy! everything here in this city is moving about at a frantic pace. the city never sleeps and people are constantly rushing everywhere. there’s this electric energy in the air and it feels like there’s stuff constantly going on. unfortunately, the cars here also go at a frantic pace and since we’re still used to looking the wrong way when we cross the street, we’re in serious danger of being run over. in fact, pretty much every time we cross the street we’re paranoid of the cars whizzing by. yikes!
i really love getting used to the feel of a new place. it’s weird, on one hand, london is definitely a lot less different than a lot of places i’ve travelled: western culture, same language as the US, etc.. but it still has so much stuff that keeps it unique and separates it from where i’m from. all the little differences like which direction the cars go, how people talk, the food, etc are an endless source of fascination to me. i totally want to take it all in and sample it all… get completely immersed. i want to try all the weird candies i see sold in the stores, read the different newspapers, see the sites, try everything there is to try… but unfortunately i’m only here for a week. that’s just a drop in the bucket, and i’ll leave london barely knowing anything aboout it… i proably wont even have enough time to be able to decipher all the british coins i have jingling around in my pocket.
*continued in next post*