Thursday, January 22, 2009

A great way to cheer up a bad start!

Today I finally got to see the real London. I got a lot better feel of the city and am really enjoying myself here. There's so much to see, everywhere you go, and everyone speaks English so you can read and listen to directions. It's kind of weird, actually. I'm so used to being foreign in Asia and obviously not fitting in. Here, I fit in perfectly until I open my mouth. It actually makes me a bit hesitant to go places and talk to people because I know it will be odd for them to hear an American accent and there will probably be difficulties.

Today a local woman asked me for directions somewhere. I told her I was new around here, but I think I could have said anything. Once she heard my American "r" she laughed at the obvious and we parted ways. It says something, though, if I fit in enough to get asked directions. I was wearing my bright red backpack, too.

While on the topic, I have no idea what these people are saying out here. I'd say at any given part of a conversation I have with someone, be it telling me how much something costs or the normal small talk to tourists, I understand them about half of the time. Seriously, there was a long announcement on the train and I could understand about three words. Granted, I can't usually understand what train operators say in America, but it's so odd to hear English spoken so differently.

Also, the cockney accent isn't pretty. It's a bit startling and makes me wonder for a second if they realize that they're not sweeping chimneys and it's not a hundred years ago.

Anyway, I walked through Westminster today. For those who don't know, that's the stereotypical London area, right along the river with Big Ben, the House of Parliament, the Eye (the giant ferris wheel), and Westminster Abbey. The house of Parliament and the Westminster cathedral are so intricate. I'm not sure how they carved the outside, but the amount of work put into it is astounding. I personally think the ferris wheel is hideous and completely out of place in an otherwise beautiful area, but that's my opinion.

Later, I stopped by my new favorite building in England: The Natural History Museum. First off, it's free. Second, it's in an amazing old building. Third, they really put an emphasis on zoology and the natural world, not so much humanity's impact on it. If you don't know, I'm sort of a zoology nerd, especially mammals, cephalopods, and evolution. The Field Museum in Chicago satisfies many of these needs, and this museum is now second on my list, perhaps topping the Field just because it's free. I can go back again tomorrow, and perhaps several other times this trip. Today I read exhibits for hours and glossed over only a mild chunk of this museum's massive inventory. There will be more to hear about this museum soon.

Big Ben. Strangely, it's smaller than it looks like in most of the pictures, but that doesn't make it any less impressive. Seeing it close up, I have a hard time imagining it in an older time. It's such an impressive piece of architecture and it's so iconic.

Outside Westminster Cathedral. This looks like a really cool building, too. Unfortunately, admitance costs 12 pounds, roughly 18-20 dollars. That's obsene. I think I'll enjoy it from the outside.

Westminster Abbey through other buildings. It really was an impressive area.

A statue outside the house of Parliament

A little bit different perspective of the house of Parliament

A fish lightpost along the river. I believe it was called "Queen's Walk" or "Way" or something else British.

This isn't too far away from where I'm staying. This was just off London bridge, looking at Tower Bridge, which is ironically much more interesting to see.

This is inside the Museum of Natural History. Look at this place! Look at the building. Just walking around it was exciting. That, coupled with the zoology exhibits, completely made my day.


KellyA said...

Try to keep some of the maps/pamphlets from your trip to these magnificent places. I still look at our Paris trip and remember them through those. Plus the boy will get a kick out of them. I am glad you are enjoying yourself again.

Donna said...

Hi-spend the money and go inside-who knows when you will get the chance again. The pictures you have taken are wonderful!
If you get a chance send a postcard to Grandma Ava-she would love to see a postcard of a statue.