Friday, September 27, 2013

Thursday + {Day Ten: London}

Since we only had one day left in London, we decided to pack in as many of the classic attractions as we could. After another deliciously fat-saturated, protein-heavy breakfast, the four of us headed off boldly for a day full of go, go, going.

At the train station, the man at the ticket booth helpfully informed us that there’s an on-going deal if you buy a train ticket; as long as both you and another person have train tickets, then you can get into a lot of attractions under a two-for-one deal.

Knowing that was fantastic, since London is a pricey city. All-day travel cards (good for any trains in zones 1-6) + any buses are only 8.60 pounds each. Unfortunately, Gooligan and I somehow lost ours immediately, so we had to buy new ones.

The first thing we did when we arrived in London was go the National Gallery. We saw some impressive paintings, but we didn’t linger very long, since there were so many other things we wanted to do. My favorite exhibit was Michael Landy’s Saints Alive. It consisted of these huge interactive pieces of art. You pressed a button, cranked a handle, or stepped on a foot pedal at each statue and it would do something. Each of the statues represented a saint and how they were tortured. I love interactive art and it was a really unique kind of exhibit—and totally free!

After the museum, we decided to split into two groups and meet back in about five hours at Traflagar Square. Gooligan and I went across the River Thames and, after a quick stop by tickets to the London Eye, we stood in line for the London Dungeon.

The London Dungeon is described as “the ultimate thrill-filled journey through London’s murky past.” It’s a sixty-to-ninety minute tour led by actors in costume who discuss important people/events from London’s past. After descending into the dungeon, we started with a boat ride (Henry VIII sending traitors to the Tower), then we stopped at the “City Gate” where a servant who collected waste from the toilets talked to us. Next up was Guy Fawkes. Gooligan was given a letter by one of the actors to carry to the next scene. We met a torturer next, saw a plague house, a terrifying plague doctor who sprayed the audience with “blood” (just water, but it was dark and unexpected!). Then we went to Mrs. Lovett’s pie shop, met Sweeney Todd, were terrified by Jack the Ripper, learned about the gallows, were judged in a court room (Gooligan was found guilty for being an American) and “hanged.” The hanging consisted of one of those rides that go up and then drop you down suddenly. After we were on the ride, the floor folded away unexpectedly so the drop was a lot deeper than I expected and I screamed really loudly.

Overall, the London Dungeon was perfect. It was especially great because we saved almost 25 pounds by having the two-for-one pass.

After the Dungeon, we stopped to get a chili bowl and ate outside. It was a beautiful day; very clear and warm but there was a gentle breeze, too, so it wasn’t too hot.

When we were done eating, Gooligan and I walked over to the Globe Theatre. We were thinking about going on a tour, but as it turned out there was actually a show going on, so the tour was truncated. We decided to skip it (but took pictures of the beautiful outside!) and caught a bus to the Tower of London.

Originally we decided not to do the Tower of London because it was a lot of money and we weren’t sure if it was worth it, but with the two-for-one pass it worked out to be under 10 pounds each. Completely worth it. We saw some more dungeons and torture devices, the Crown Jewels, a lot of the really amazing scepters and swords used in ceremonies, and an exhibit about the Royal animals that were kept at the Tower of London until the attacks became too numerous and they were transferred to the newly built zoo instead.

After the Tower, we met back up with the whole group and went to the Eye. We timed it right and practically walked right on. One full rotation takes a half hour. It was beautiful to see the city from up high! We had planned to go to Big Ben, but we were all a little tired of running around by then and had to get up early for a taxi. The Eye provided us with an incredible view of Big Ben anyway.

We stopped for dinner at this perfect Italian restaurant. Buffalo was their specialty, but we didn’t get any. Instead, we had a delicious super-thin crust pizza and split a hazelnut donut for dessert.

As we walked back to the Underground, we saw a lot of cute shops. I wish we had more time in London, but we packed in as much as we could and had a great time!

Once we were back in Enfield, we stopped at the grocery store to buy some snacks and use up the rest of our pounds. Then we confirmed our cab, packed our bags, said goodbye to our lovely host Rita, signed her guestbook, and hit the hay for… three and a half hours of sleep!

Today was probably the best day yet!


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