Flashback Friday is where I post some writing of a little snippet of my life as a younger me. Today, I bring you another awesome Europe Edition of our time in London in May 2008.
We came to London on a train from Brussels. We took the train because Rick Steves said so. I was starting to doubt his so-called cheap strategies because for two adults and a toddler it cost us a nice 700 Euros (about $900) to take the freaking train. The plane would probably have been cheaper, but not as fun. We got to chase our toddler up and down the aisles while I enviously watched all the childless people read books and listen to iPods. And we got to go under the English channel in the famous tunnel which turned out to just be a really long, dark tunnel that made your ears pop at the end. But the best thing about the train was the view of the gorgeous country sides and the whole novelty of it. I felt very European and sophisticated and I loved watching all the houses, green hills, and fields go by.
The first thing you have to do when you get to London is go on a double-decker bus tour so everyone miles around can know that YOU ARE A TOURIST. We stayed a little out of downtown London to save money, so we had to learn how to use the underground (read: subway, also know as the “Tube”) like a local. We got ourselves some reload-able oyster cards so we could just scan and go on all the public transportation. We were so proud of ourselves using the Tube like we totally knew what we were doing until the stop we were supposed to get off at was closed and we were left wandering around London. If Rick Steves had been there, we could have asked him how to get to Piccadily. Too bad he was a book. Luckily, we saw tour buses pass by so we figured there had to be a stop up ahead somewhere and there was.
The bus tour was fun for about 5 minutes until it got freezing cold from the rain. My husband went inside the bus to keep our son warm and I froze my butt off recording the view from the top deck.
We got off at Buckingham Palace first. There was a huge crowd and we somehow managed to get there right in time for the changing of the guard. You get to watch guys with tall fuzzy hats march all over the place to drums. That is, if you can seem them from 20 feet away through a huge crowd and iron bars. I weaseled my way to the front of the crowd and found a place I could see from.
“Come over here!” I told my husband, “You can see really well because this person in front of me is really short!”
The girl in front of me turned around and was half-amused, half-offended at my shouting. Yeah, sometimes my self-edit button doesn’t work. The parade afterwards was cool because there were horses going down the street and you could see the guards much better.
We got back on our cold tour bus and my husband wanted to do something warm and inside. I told him we could go to the Tower of London since it’s a castle. That would be warm and inside.
I hope your laughing at us by now, because the Tower of London is ENTIRELY OUTSIDE. They had a small exhibit of Crown Jewels, a medieval armor exhibit, and a few rooms you can see, but the majority of it was outside in the cold rain with lots of puddles.
The next day, we vowed that we would not get rained on again. So, in the morning, while we were eating breakfast at the hotel, we watched the news until the weather came on. To our surprise, the weather lasted about five minutes and consisted of a lady standing in front of an unmarked map of the UK saying “It’ll be partly cloudy and rainy for most of the day” while vaguely pointed to the lower left of the map. And the temperatures were in Celsius. I knew that temperatures were in Celsius before we came here, however the weather was so short I couldn’t remember what the number even was, let alone convert it to Farenhenheit. Plus, there was still that little problem of not knowing which Celsius number applied to us because the map had zero labeling.
“So…is it going to be raining in London, then?” my husband asked me.
“I have no idea.”
The weather report was like that everyday and we came to accept that it probably more or less rained everyday in London and people didn’t care much about the weather report – they just prepared accordingly. It was our running joke that today it would be “raining over there.” “What’s the weather like today, Jessica?” “Oh, it’s raining over there.” And it was my husband’s favorite joke that whenever it was raining to nudge me and say, “Hey, it’s raining! You want to go see the Tower of London?” Hardy har har.
We saw the British Museum later that day and thankfully it was free. London was fun, but the dollar sucked in 2008 and pretty much everything cost twice as much as it did in the States.
If you ever want to go to a cool museum, this is it. It has real mummies (some of which aren’t in cases and you can see them. They’re gross and I had to wonder how they would feel about being a museum attraction), real Greek statues, real Egyptian tombs, the original carvings from the Parthenon, a real Michelangelo cartoon and the one and only Rosetta Stone (IT’S REAL GUYS). That was my husband’s favorite part of the museum. He took a bazillion pictures of it and like 10 whole minutes of video. I thought it was cool, too, but let’s face it – IT’S A ROCK.
Our son loved this museum. It’s made for kids so everything is encased in glass and up high. He got to run around to his heart’s content, see lots of new things and then zonk out for the boring parts.
Our museum tour consisted mostly of my husband taking way too much video while I had my nose stuck in a book. I would randomly say things like, “Hey! This is sanskrit!” and my husband would be recording some huge statue at the other end of the room. We spent four hours like that and didn’t even see everything. Best. Museum. Ever. Before we left, my husband had to stare at the Rosetta Stone some more and then we took the Tube home.