Mazes, palaces, Ian & Patrick, robbery & Greenwich

May 16, 2009 - London, United Kingdom

Okay, first no I did not get robbed or mugged. Just read to find out.

Where I left off…oh yes, this past weekend was pretty low key. Saturday I wondered around London and relaxed. That was pretty fun. On Sunday Geri and I went the V&A or the Victoria & Albert Museum in South Kensington, London. It was really nice, it was starting to become one of my favorite museums, until a certain point…I’ll explain. Oh, and I friggin forgot my camera fml, I’ll just go again because it was free.

The museum was really great. They had all sorts of artifacts and stuff that was really neat. Except, well it’s a double edged sword or whatever, a lot of the stuff is similar to the things, like furnishings etc, that you’d see in a palace. So it stinks to see it in a museum, but here they have detailed descriptions about stuff so that’s cool. I just like to look up look everything over then decide what I like the best and read about that. It was really fun, there were a lot of statues and at times it reminded me of the Louvre. So as we continued to walk around we went into this huge room with these huge artifacts. Literally an entire façade of a cathedral was in the room it was huge. There was also a column about 50 feet high in two sections that was from the Roman Forum in Rome. It was really neat I was like holy shit. It was really neat…until. COME TO FIND OUT…they’re all fakes. Yah seriously, seriously, fakes, or replicas in plaster of the real things. I was pissed and moved on quickly. The rest of the museum was neat, there was a great exhibit on Theatre and there was a slide show of famous Brits on the West End stages. Almost everyone I recognized and about half of them are in Harry Potter haha. There was also a video of musicals and Billy Elliot was in it!

On Monday, because I played all weekend I had to finish my homework. I turned in my last paper for my ‘Bollywood’ class, so that was over. I loved that class so much. Then in true London fashion I grabbed a beer and headed to the park. I sat under a tree, typed and sipped a beer while writing for my scriptwriting class. For the record, writing with a beer in ones stomach does not make one write better. I couldn’t focus and it was cold so I headed back.

I did finish my script for my Adv. Scriptwriting class. I will say, that class, which was a huge factor for why I came to London Met was a huge disappointment. I honestly don’t think I learned a single thing. It was all review, but hey, it counts for credit and I got to write so it’s all good.

Tuesday, after turning in my script, Geri and I headed to Waterloo station to take a train out to Hampton Court palace. In order to do so we decided to take the Waterloo & City Underground line, thus completing my quest to ride on all Underground lines. It sounds more exciting than it was haha, next I have to tackle this DLR thingy.

So we went out to Hampton Court, it was about a half hour ride through the suburbs of London to the palace which sits on the Thames. It believe it or not is still technically in London and is really close to Heathrow.

The palace was home to the douche King Henry the VIII. It’s really pretty, in the Tudor style. Honestly, there are more chimneys in the palace than I think there are in the houses on my street. It’s crazy, and they’re all different and detailed. It was cool. We walked around a bit and kinda tagged along with a tour group. We walked around the old kitchens that were the size of the entire restaurant I work at. Geri pretended to be Miss Lovett and make meat pies haha. There was a huge fire place with a fire going that was really neat and made the place smell like my house during the winter, or camping haha. I liked the on the outside and in the courtyards more than I did inside. After a while it’s kinda over kill. I mean, the queen has her apartments and the king has his, and like five drawing rooms, a closet bigger than my room. Its nuts, but I guess if you have the money. There was really no flow to the place either and I think there was one courtyard and stairway we walked through about ten times, I’m not even kidding. But it was funny because in the stairwell there was a guy working on the chandelier and throughout the day we watched his work progress until it was finished and hanging again. We also toured one apartment and we followed around by the tour guide who wouldn’t leave us alone or stop talking to us. Geri was nice and talked to him so I just took lots of picture to avoid it haha. I’m a terrible person. He was nice and probably really bored.

After we had lunch, and because of my tight budget I brought a lunch. Smart thinking I think because the food at well all the places I go is soooo expensive and honestly not great. Oh man, I just got a glass of milk and its sooo good, I’m gunna miss whole milk. P.S. It’s 2am and I’m writing this because AGAIN I have insomnia...I might need to get this checked out.

So we finished the rest of the inside of the palace and headed into the gardens. We took a short horse carriage ride around part of the gardens. As we pulled away from the Palace I looked at it and it really reminded me of Versailles. Then our guide says “now from here you can see the Rococo style façade of the palace. You may think it looks similar to the Palace of Versailles in France. That’s because King George and Queen Catherine (?) who built that addition wanted it to look like it” Score one for me.

We saw a “wild” deer herd off in the distance. I say “wild” because they were put into that park, basically a large enclosure, hundreds of years ago to the king could come and hunt them. It’s the oldest documented herd in the world.

The rest of the gardens were really pretty, I actually liked them more than Versailles, but I think it’s because it’s spring and everything has popped. There were these trees that I really liked too. They basically look like giant mushrooms, Geri and I posed under them. It was cool, the guide said they’re basically waterproof underneath too.

After we went to the famous hundreds of years old hedge maze. It was fun, I felt like Harry Potter haha. We actually made it through it, or too the centre really quickly. It was neat. Then we took a sit in a neat garden and just enjoyed it. After we went off in search of the ice cream booth but were disappointed because it was closed. So we looked around the rose gardens, which had not bloomed yet…damnit. The gardens were pretty nun the less. After we walked back through the palace and saw more gardens and took some funny pictures.

Later we headed back into London on the train. It was really quick which was great. I also realized how awesome and extensive the English rail system is. Honestly at one point I counted 6 trains in my field of vision not including ours. It was amazing. The station was jammed too, our train was at the same time as like two others and another was heading out amazing.

We jabbed some dinner near Piccadilly Circus and were making our way towards our play for the evening. In Leicester Square there was a movie premier so we thought we’d do some celebrity watching. It was cool it was the premier of Night at the Museum 2. We saw Hank Azaria really close and I got some shots of him. Then we saw Ben Stiller, who’s…honestly, short. And looks old, I’m not a huge fan of him but it was cool to see him.

After we saw the play Waiting for Godot (pronounced God-O) with IAN MCKELLAN AND PATRICK STEWART!!! It was amazing. Ian climbed over a fence at the back of the stage and I freaked out. I mean was so excited it was amazing. Friggin GANDALF was right there. Then Patrick just strolled on and Geri freaked out haha, it was great. They have been acting together since the 1970s, and it really showed because in the play their characters have known each other for their entire lives. They really were just amazing to watch on stage and so into their characters. The play was a cheeky comedy, though I think the playwright would hate me for saying it. Honestly, I was laughing the whole time and there was only one poop/fart joke, which I noted haha. After during the curtain call Geri and I snuck out our cameras to grab some shots of them, I got about 4 before we got yelled at haha. It was amazing.

On Wednesday we headed out to the Kew Gardens, or the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew. Haha. They were amazing; I honestly saw a plant from every continent except Antarctica. We started off by taking the Kew Explorer, a trolley that takes you around the gardens. At this point we both realized how big they are and shit our pants. I wish I brought my pedometer because we walked a lot. After the explorer we went into the Palm House, a giant greenhouse. The ceiling is literally like 70 feet high. It was hot in there too, steamy. They plants were really pretty, I got some great shots. There was also a walkway above them that was neat. After we hopped back on the Explorer and went to the next greenhouse. When I say greenhouse that’s because that’s what they are but look at the pictures because they really are huge. The next one is the largest Victorian era “glasshouse,” that was built in the 1870s. So yah, Civil War era for Americans. It was huge and really neat, so many plants. Look at the pictures because there really are so many.

After we went up this treetop viewing platform thing. It was really neat; we walked up in the trees. Geri was a trooper and climbed all the way up and was actually faster than yours truly. I was actually a little scared too because it shook. After a long walk down and wondering around we looked at the Japanese gardens. There was a peacock there and it had its tail up! It was really pretty. Then we got lost because the maps sucked. I mean really the scale was so wrong. We found the lily pond and Geri took a sit while I headed out to find the sequoias or redwoods. We had past them on the Explorer and I just had to see them up close. They were really big and tall, though not as big as the ones in California? Not that I know, but I really want to go there now. OH, so redwood trees are actually red! Yah, I didn’t know that. I just thought that was the name and maybe they had like a hint of red, but they were pretty red. Or I thought to. I was excited I love them. It actually felt like being in a cathedral under them. It was so pretty. I had myself a little photo shoot and got some picture of me that I love. Ones that Mel would approve of as I hugged trees, danced around like Maria in The Sound of Music and jumped up into the air around the trees. They’re pretty awesome. I loved it. Then the Explorer went by as I was twirling around and I became part of the exhibit haha. The trees were amazing though.

Later we got…lost…again. But saw some amazing birds on the way. OH and I saw a female peacock and they’re actually not as pretty as the males. We saw the bamboo gardens and the rhododendrons that were huge. Okay, my mom has some of those, but there bushes or trees were the size of my friggin house. We then had some dinner; I saved money again and had packed a lunch. We then looked around the Princess of Wales Glasshouse which was pretty neat. It had ten different climate zones in one building. It was really neat, but my camera did not agree because the lens kept fogging. It was hot and steamy in there. They had a “carnivorous plants” room. I was honestly a little scared in there because the plants are scary looking but really neat. After we called it a day as we were pooped. I really wish I wore my pedometer because we must have walked a couple of miles.

Thursday evening I went to dinner and the London Eye with my LMU programme. I’ve done the Eye two times already but it was free soo you know. We went to Pizza Express right near the Eye. It was fun to catch up with some of the people from the group. It was weird though because they were all nice now but at the beginning they weren’t. I did enjoy hanging out with some of the nice people though. Colleen, Courtney and Autumn were three girls from Arizona that I met in my Art class. They along with David were really nice in that class, David wasn’t there because he already went home. So dinner was good. At the end I got a cappuccino because it was all paid for. And so I really liked the cup that it came in because it umm had a funny cartoon on it. So it may have may it into my camera bag as I was taking pictures. My heart was pounding out of my chest, it was scary but I loved the cup. Geri also was a terrible person and really liked the sugar holder haha. We took some pretty funny pictures outside of the restaurant with our “prizes.” I think of it as compensation for the bad service and food haha. After we played around on a little playground before hopping on the Eye. It was a lot of fun. Then we rode on the Eye that was fun as always. As it turned out too I was the only boy from our group in the capsule. But it was okay we still had fun and took lots of pictures.

After some of us walked over to Trafalgar Square and climbed onto the lions. We were able to help Geri get up onto the platform where the lions are too. That was exciting and she was really happy. All in all it was a fun evening.

Today Geri and I headed down to Greenwich to check out that area. In order to get there we had to take the Docklands Light Railway, or DLR which is basically an Underground line but not. Haha, it’s a metro and part of the TFL. It was fun, took a while but it was fun and it was really pretty because most of it is above ground. We went near the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf and the banking district. Then down to Greenwich which I actually part of London.

We walked by the Cutty Sark but it was all covered because it burnt down in January before we got here. We walked along the River Thames and then into the Royal Navel College campus. It was really pretty and they were setting up for a film shoot. The college was gorgeous though, and it was designed by Sir Christopher Wren. We also went into the National Maritime Museum. That was okay, now the best museum ever. The cool part was the kids’ interactive part that was not busy. We played with a Morse code machine and even those signal flags. That was really great. There was also a boat steering simulator that was fun. I tried the hardest ship at the hardest level which made it at night. I did New York City as my map, it was pretty fun. I ended up crashing into another boat haha whoops. Geri did it as well and ended up not crashing.

After we climbed up a huge hill to the Royal Observatory which is also the home of the Prime Meridian Line. It was really neat and the few from the top was excellent. You could see all of London from The O2 Arena to Canary Wharf to the Downtown and Westminster. It was really amazing. London looked really big from up there. We stood on the Prime Meridian which means we were standing in two different hemispheres at once. It was pretty cool. There was also the Observatory itself with a giant telescope. There was also another interactive part in a different building that was really neat. And we touched the oldest thing on earth which is a meteor that crashed into Africa at the time of the dinosaurs.

After we took the DLR back into Central; it was so crowded because it was rush hour. The DLR terminates at Bank which is possibly the busiest station in the Underground system. To add to the mix the Northern Line which we needed to take to get back to Kings Cross was delayed because of a signal failure. The station was jammed I mean jammed I’ve never seen it that bad. A train pulled in and it was jammed too but we crammed on, I mean crammed on. It was the busiest I’ve ever seen the Underground.

YAH, I’m finally caught up in my blog! This weekend Geri and I are going on a tour to the Isle of Wight on the South coast. Apparently we’re staying at a beach B&B or something but I don’t know. It’s supposed to rain all weekend though which sucks. Either way I’m going to go swimming if there’s the option of that. Check out the pictures in the many new albums.

Cheers, Mark


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