I will just warn readers and myself, that this will be a long entry. At the bottom check out the Big Ben Awards, for the best moments and experiences I've had abroad and also, the blog stats! Like how many words I've written and pictures I've taken. Pretty neat.
So first...Lindsey did ask me once, “Mark, what’s it like in London?” I’m pretty sure I answered, “It’s friggin awesome, I love it so much, it’s so fun.” Okay, not my most poetic of moments, but I think I found someone who can answer her.
“I can't really explain it,
I haven't got the words,
It's a feeling that you can't control.
I suppose it's like forgetting, losing who you are.
And at the same time, something makes you whole.
It's like that there's a music, playing in your ear,
And I'm listening, and I'm listening and then I disappear.
And then I feel a change,
Like a fire deep inside.
Something bursting me wide open, impossible to hide.
And suddenly I'm flying, flying like a bird,
Like electricity, electricity,
Sparks inside of me,
And I'm free, I'm free!
It's a bit like being angry,
It's a bit like being scared,
Confused and all mixed up, and mad as hell.
It's like when you've been crying,
And you're empty and you're full.
But I don't know what it is, it's hard to tell.
It's like that there's a music, playing in your ear,
But the music is impossible, impossible to hear.
But then I feel it move me,
Like a burning deep inside,
Something bursting me wide open, impossible to hide.
And suddenly I'm flying, flying like a bird.
Like electricity, electricity!
Sparks inside of me,
And I'm free, I'm free!” –Billy Elliot.
It is my last blog entry that I'll publish in London. I just got back from seeing Big Ben for the last time. It was something else; I honestly just stood there and looked at it for the longest time. And for the record I did cry, well teared up as I said goodbye. A friend of mine said that she hates saying ‘bye’ because it sounds like an ending so she always says ‘see you later.’ I kinda like that, cause nothing has to be bye forever... unless you want it to be or someone dies. Oh death….haha. SO I guess I said see you later, till next time, until then, ttyl, to Big Ben, and I did my thing when saying bye, I didn’t look back.
(Previously written) I’m in Kensington Gardens right now under my favorite tree by the Italian Fountains soaking up the London sun. The sound checks for Peter Pan rumble over the hill as I start my last blog entry from London.
That past few days have been crazy, but also reflective and relaxing; when I last left you I had not slept the night before and I was preparing for a long walk around London. Well, I did that walk and have the blister to show for it. It’s in the same friggin spot as the last time I got a blister when my parents were here.
So I drank a lot more coffee yesterday morning and got ready to go out. With my camera around my wrist and my camera bag full of food, my wallet and gum I headed out. My first stop after a Tube ride packed with business people was Liverpool Street Station. I had been here previously in my art class when we looked at the public art in the area. I found a café that had iced lattes and enjoyed that under a giant sculpture outside the station and watched the busy Londoners hurry to work. After I walked around the financial district and the Square Mile in search of the Gherkin skyscraper. This is the one that I think looks like a giant lipstick, my mom things looks like a rocket ship and my sister simply calls “the penis building.” I found it and walked around it, it was huge, haha! Then I kinda got lost trying to find my way to the Thames, but I ended up near my school where I had my Adv. Scriptwriting class. I then walked by the Tower and London and crossed Tower Bridge. It was quite busy in that area as it’s the summer season now. Also about every sightseeing bus and boat cruise I saw was full as well! It was beautiful out as well, actually hot, I was glad I didn’t bother to bring my brelly and coat.
I walked by the London city hall which is a pretty neat looking building. Then I went onto the HMS Belfast, the WWII battleship that is docked in the Thames. It was really neat, they let you go just about everywhere on the ship. It was pretty awesome. I got lost in the engine/boiler rooms. And once again my height was an issue as I had to duck and squeeze my way through some areas. Apparently, I’m too tall to be a sailor. I think I climbed up and down those tiny steep staircases like fifty times. And they make you go down them backwards. It was crazy was crazy and sometimes annoying because I really had to duck to make it down them without hitting my head. BUT, I guess it’s authentic so I’ll let it slide. I saw every part of the main guns. From deep down where they store and load the sheets to the controls that fire it. Did you know it takes 27 sailors to operate one of those guns? I didn’t! I thought maybe 7 to 10 maybe, but no 27! I was surprised. I climbed through the crew quarters which were full of some unpleasant manikins and such. Honestly I jumped like twice from them and then sometimes real people. It’s also Fleet Week here so there were a lot of reenactors around the ship. I saw the kitchens, toilets (the ones the sailors used back in WWII haha), medical area, and so much more. It was really neat. You know from the outside the ship looks kinda small but when you’re on it and in it, it’s huge. I climbed onto the bridge and through all of that. I really liked the charts and radar room. I think it’s called the operations room, that was neat. They had it all dark with lights on the charts and the radar was beeping and they had noises playing that sounded like something was going on. Then I climbed onto the main deck and all of that and of course did the “I’m king of the world” pose on the bow, “flying” over London.
After I went through the Hays Galleria, which is a mall not gallery, and crossed the London Bridge, taking me back into the Square Mile. I was beginning to fade as one can imagine, having not slept for 24+ hours. I got on the Tube and went down to South Kensington to go to Harrods. Okay, so I got sooo lost in there. I was trying to find the “pet department” as I said to one store clerk; whom corrected me saying “oh you mean the pet kingdom.” I digress, but I found something for Iris but I can’t say what it is because it’s a surprise for her, but it’s something very British.
I then headed back to Nido for lunch and a short and much needed nap. After, the sun was still out so I headed to, actually right where I’m sitting now, the Kensington Gardens, haha. I tried to do a bit of writing but I was unsuccessful.
Annoyed and frustrated I got on packed and delayed Underground to go grocery shopping. I went to Sainsbury’s up at Angel as they had a Coinstar machine. I cashed in all the loose change I had accumulated over the term. I had over ten pounds! I was quite excited as that was my money for my last Nido cooked meal, Welsh lamb chops, mash, cheesecake and beer! Haha yah, I got all that for ten pounds. That evening after stuffing my face, cleaning and packing, all to Frasier, I Skyped home to my mom for the last time from here. That was exciting for both of us. Then I passed out early as one would expect.
This morning I woke up and was quite stiff, I slept like a friggin log. I don’t think I moved all night. Rested and excited to make the most of my last day I cleaned up and headed out. Today I did another walk around London, this time through Westminster and a lot of the touristy places. I started on the Strand which was quite nice, but very busy. I ended up in Trafalgar Square and did my first good deed for the day by taking a picture of some Japanese tourist. I quite enjoyed Trafalgar Square, it was really busy though. I have never seen it that packed. I then tossed up going to see Big Ben or something else and chose the something else, saving Big Ben for last this evening. I knew that would be a long trip. So I went through Leicester Square, possibly my favorite square in London. It’s so busy and in the center of theatreland with literally theatres all around. I got my last gelato and enjoyed that in the square. I even asked for a small spoon to make it more authentic and make it last longer. I then did the last of my souvenir shopping. Actually this is quite funny and a very Jewish thing to do, yah racism! I went into all the souvenir shops on one street (there were about 4 of them) and checked the prices on the things I wanted then went back and got all the things at the places it was the cheapest! Haha, I’m a terrible person. Then I got a slushy cause it was so hot and I enjoyed that by the fountain in Piccadilly Circus. That place, okay may not have an actual circus but is so crazy it mind as well be.
I then walked along the Mall, which is not a mall but a street, down to Buckingham Palace, the Queen wasn’t home. Then through Green Park and Hyde Park corner and into Hyde Park. I went through the Rose Gardens which were in bloom and were so pretty. It was funny, I was listening to my iPod all day to a giant playlist I made (it was 4 hours long) and I was like, you know some corny love song I put on it should come on now. And “Love Song” by Sarah Bareilles came on haha. I laughed. Next was past the Serpentine, the giant pond that divides the Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. It was very busy there as well, tons of people enjoying the boats.
After I took a break in the shade at the Diana memorial fountain. I really love it there so much. It’s such a pretty place and peaceful. Okay so today it was packed but I still love it. Tons of people were enjoying it. I was a creeper and took some pictures of Londoners enjoying it. There was a cute little boy playing with a football that I got some great shots off. Okay, so after feeling like a creeper I got up and passed the Peter Pan statue and onto the Italian Fountains. I sat in my favorite spot for a while and enjoyed that. It was so nice and the sun was awesome. I got a little burned but I don’t care. Then I bused it back to Nido and went out with Geri, her sister Tina, and our friend Denise and Jamie. We went to a pub and got fish and chips and a pint for the last time. It was quite sad thinking it was our last time in a pub, FOR NOW, gawd I have to keep saying that. FOR NOW, FOR NOW. OH, funny friggin story, we’re heading into the pub and we all get carded! Yah, last fucking time I got to pub in London and I get carded! That would happen to me. I didn’t have my ID because you don’t need to have one on you in London and come on I’ve never been carded before here. But he let me in.
After I took my last double decker bus ride, FOR NOW, down to Waterloo. I was heading to say ‘ttyl’ to Big Ben. I walked past the London Eye and enjoyed the view there for the last time, FOR NOW. I honestly couldn’t even look at Big Ben yet because I was on the verge of tears. Oh, PS Big Ben turns 150 in two days!!! That’s exciting! So I made my way across Westminster Bridge and just stood there and looked at Big Ben. Now okay, I’ll explain. Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament is the most beautiful building in the world. I love it so much. For me, I’ve always wanted to see it and so seeing it from the first time, every time and this last time, FOR NOW, I get, got and will always get chills. It is for me, a symbol of hope and accomplish for a dream, dreamt and lived. The truth is, London feels like home and someday I dream to make it just that. I’m quite sad to be going home but humbled by how lucky I have been to live here for the past four months. I’m feeling a lot of emotions at the moments, the likes of which I haven’t felt since the night before I came here. Only fitting I suppose.
So that’s that. Now I’m back a Nido, packing and cleaning my room up. I don’t know how clean to leave it but, I don’t want the people to think I’m a slob haha, must take after my mother. Tomorrow is an early wake up so I’m afraid I’m not going to post photos for now.
But I have something even more exciting. THE BIG BEN AWARDS and the blog stats!!!!! So like I said, I got his idea off Facebook and it’s like all my favorite things, funniest moments and such on a list as if they were awarded an Oscar or something. I added to it considerably making 25 categories, most with runners up haha. I also have the alphabet of things I’ve learned while I’ve been here. My hope is to just look at this list in the few years and maybe remember something I didn’t blog about.
CAMERA AND BLOG STATS:
Total Pictures Taken: 11,236
Total Pictures Saved: 8,830
Percentage of: 78.5%
Total Words in blog: 56,444
Pages in Word, single spaced, TNR, 12 point font: 87
THE BIG BEN AWARDS
1) ‘Big Ben’ Moment Award: Seeing Big Ben for the first time, and yes, I did cry.
a. Runner Up: Showing my parents around London, like I was a local.
b. Runner Up: Prague Medieval Experience, Mel was a witch!
c. Runner Up: Ronaldo’s game winning goal at Old Trafford!!!
d. Runner Up: Finding out I won the election for Student Government President.
e. Runner Up: Shaking and being so scared on the Eiffel Tower.
2) Funniest Moment: Geri and I were on a double-decker bus and a woman hit her head on the windshield when the bus driver hit the brake. Honestly, I could not stop laughing, but I think the couple of gin and tonics caused that.
a. Runner Up: Geri and I laughing uncontrollably during Over There.
b. Runner Up: The entire experience with the LMU crew at Pizza Express when I was a klepto.
c. Runner Up: The night with Courtney and Autumn with the wine and pints.
d. Runner Up: Hanging out on the rooftop terrace overlooking the Canterbury Cathedral with Geri, Mike and Jonathan, and my jokes haha.
e. Runner Up: Drinking with my parents was hilarious.
3) ‘Awkward Annie’ Moment Award: First Irish pub with Geri, when she ordered water.
4) ‘Tear Jerker’ Moment Award: When we put Louis to sleep.
5) The Gray Hairs Stress Award: Mel and I’s fight over like 70 cents in Prague.
a. Runner up: The month when my motherboard was fried.
6) R&R Award: That time on the Isle of Wight when I lounged in the sun.
a. Runner up: Anytime in the Kensington Gardens, especially the time when I got sun burned.
7) Favorite London Haunt: Kensington Gardens, on the hill right by the Italian Fountains.
a. Gallery: National Gallery
b. Museum: Victoria and Albert Museum
c. Attraction: London Eye
d. Park: Kensington Gardens
e. Square: Leicester Square
9) Favorite Attractions in the UK (outside of London):
a. Castle: Leeds Castle
b. Attraction: Shakespeare’s House
c. Ruin: Tintern Abbey
10) Favorite Attraction
a. In Ireland: Guinness Factory
b. In France: Eiffel Tower
c. In The Netherlands: Anne Frank’s House
d. In the Czech Republic: The Bone Church
11) Most Disappointing Attraction: Astronomical Clock, Old Town Square, Prague. Really, it didn’t do that much.
12) Best Cathedral
a. Overall: Gloucester Cathedral
b. Exterior: Notre Dame de Paris
c. Interior: Canterbury Cathedral
d. Stained Glass Windows: St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague
13) Favorite Tour
a. Walking: I loved the tour of that Chateau in Prague with Hannah.
b. Bus: Isle of Wight
c. Boat: River Seine cruise
14) London Underground Awards:
a. Favorite Line: Victoria
b. Favorite Station: Westminster
c. Favorite bus route: 205…or 73!
15) Favorite Songs for Riding the Tube:
a. O…Saya - A. R. Rahman & M.I.A.
b. Let it Rock - Kevin Rudolf & Lil Wayne
c. So What –P!nk
d. Viva la Vida –Coldplay
e. Open your Eyes –Snow Patrol
16) Best Pub:
a. In London: The Angel
b. In the EU: U Fleku, CzR
17) Best Food:
a. NIDO Cooked: Citrus salmon and rice.
b. Dine In: That place in Canterbury with the wine and lamb and trout.
c. Take Away: The chicken place down the street, best chips ever!
d. Just a Bite: Rendezvous Gelato, Leicester Square, Pomegranate!!!
e. Dessert: STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING!!!
1 Drink of Choice Award:
a. Mixed Drink: Gin (Gordon’s) and Tonic with LEMON!!!
b. Pint: Heineken
c. Wine: Any DRY Chard, that’s not from New Zealand and preferably French.
d. Cocktail: The Eclipse: Jack Daniels, Chambord, lime, and crusted raspberries, best served on the rocks in a Collins glass.
19) Favorite West End Show:
a. Musical: Billy Elliot
b. Play: Peter Pan
c. Play (seen in Class): Over There
20) Favorite Film Viewed in the UK: Rang de Basanti
21) Favorite Class: ‘Bollywood’ –a different Universe
22) Favorite Quote
a. Human: “Mark, you’re not fat. You’re American!” –Geri.
b. Automated: “This is a Piccadilly Line Service to Cockfosters” –The Computer Voice on the Tube.
c. From me: “And when it rains people have sex... Classic line "what to do on a rainy afternoon." My friend Colleen and I joked that this is why the population in London is so high. Because it rains all the time, and spooning leads to forking, which leads to sippy cups! Haha, yah I wrote that, take that Shakespeare!”
23) “Been there done that, okay” -Moving On Award: Palace of Versailles
24) Top Places to Visit again:
a. Old Trafford, Manchester
25) The alphabet of things I’ve learned:
a. Absence makes the heart grow founder…and sometimes the total opposite.
b. Baby buggies and peacocks rule the world!
c. “Cheers,” can mean, “good day,” “thank you,” and “cheers.”
d. Don’t listen to what people say about places…go and experience them yourself.
e. Everyone, including myself, needs to take a chill pill.
f. Football is a religion.
g. Go with your gut.
h. Her Majesty owns everything and she puts her name on it too.
i. Indian food is amazing!
j. Just do it, you only live once so live it up.
k. King Henry the VIII was a douche!!
l. Laughter and Love are the most powerful weapons/medicines.
m. MIND THE FUCKING GAP.
n. No one is immune to ridicule.
o. Open minded is the way to be.
p. Please allow passengers off the train first…people DON’T DO THAT
q. Quiet time is my kinda time.
r. Redwoods are actually red!
s. SGA will control my life for the next year and I’m okay with it.
t. The Internet is the best thing ever invented.
u. Umm, I like lattes and trees.
v. Victoria is my favorite Queen and Underground Line.
w. Walk on the left and stand on the right, on escalators in the Underground.
x. Xxx is the symbol of Amsterdam…only fitting.
y. Yummy sticky toffee pudding haha.
z. Zzzzz is amazing, especially on buses.
FADE OUT: roll credits