London: Day One

What a day. I don’t think I could ever tire of hearing the local color of the Brits. As soon as we hit the Tube (Londond’s subway), I listened to the soft voice over the speaker, “please mind the gap,” she said… So deliciously proper. And of course my ears perked up when I looked at the Picadilly line on which we were traveling… A line that lead to Covent Garden… A place I’ve taken my students each year- to see Eliza Doolittle- a place where a cockney flower girl might find an honest tuppence…

We left the tube and set off on foot. Our first stop was Trafalgar Square. It was packed with tourists who were there to appreciate (Horatio) Nelson’s column, guarded by four giant lion statues made of solid brass. The square is a gathering place commemorating the Battle of Trafalgar. And from the top of the stairs, visitors can see “Big Ben and Parlaiment, kids”! There were some fantastic street entertainers out today- but probably my favorite was Floating Yoda.

While there, we were able to experience our first public toilets. They made me recall my old college Econ professor who repeatedly chirped about  “no free lunch “. In order to use the potty, you had to play 20 pence. Put the coin in and go through the turnstile. 

Next we went on to Picadilly Circus. Here we were given a bit of free time, so I wandered and snapped some interesting “Londonesque” photos… I do believe this “loyalist” loved his job…

Next, we went to Leicester  Square, home of the Odeon Theater- the Brit’s version of the red carpet- movie premiere hotspot. 

We ended up at a local restaurant where all 30 of us got traditional English meat pies and mash. Wow. Sounded like a double negative to a vegetarian who hates potatoes!  Fortunately, they had a veggie pie for me… And didn’t seem too bothered when I excused myself from “the mash”. The pitcher of water left on each table was room temperature- ice is clearly a hot commodity in London. Ha!

After dinner we headed back to the Hilton Croydon hotel, via, according to Devon-native tour guide Simon, a “proper coach bus.”  Along the way, before I snuck in a power nap, we saw a few more landmarks-Big Ben and the Thames river among them.

The day was amazing. I’m still pinching myself to ensure that I am not in the midst of some post-school year dream. People are  noticeably polite here… Always saying,  “oh, so sorry” when they bump you, holding doors, etc.

I’m off to bed now, but can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings! I know it includes a meal of Asian noodles, a city tour of more London highlights, and a ticket to see Wicked!



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