12. The London Chronicles: Part II

Alright, it’s been a bit over a week, so here is a travel journal of the past week!

Saturday, July 8th
We had a nice, lazy Saturday morning and by the end of the morning we headed in the direction of the British Museum. On the way from the tube station, we happened by a bookshop. Of course, us being us, we were immediately drawn in because books; turns out the bookshop was called the Atlantis Bookshop and dealt with all subjects magical and metaphysical. As Ricardo is the only other person I have ever met who also collects books on magical artifacts and creatures, it was fantastic to browse the store and choose a book on weird artifacts with him.

We then made it to the British Museum and had to walk all the way around to the back of the museum before we could get in. Security all over London has been increased because of the recent terrorist attacks, so all the museums have large back-checking security stations set up. After our backpacks were checked, we made it in. We bee-lined our way to the Egyptian area and saw mummies and scarab beetles and jars of human organs. We then journeyed through the bronze age and medieval and Renaissance Europe and marveled at the artisan abilities of humans of long ago. Seriously, the absolute marvels of the craftsmanship from hundreds of years ago are so beautifully done that it’s hard to know whether or not people are capable of such craftsmanship these days.

After relaxing at home, we headed out to Covent Gardens to either go eat or get a drink or dance; what we were going to do, we weren’t really sure when we headed out. The Gay Pride parade had happened earlier that day, so the streets in the area were still swarming with people decked out in rainbow colors and sparkles. It was hard to move in some areas because there were so many people. At some point, we found a book/movie/music store with a sale of two books for five pounds. Of course we both bought a book. I swear, most of our souvenirs are books at this point. We had a deliciously lovely meal at this bright Italian restaurant. We got off the tube at King’s Cross to look for a nice pub, but ended up not finding anywhere and spending twice as long to get home since most of the tubes were closed for the night.

Sunday, July 9th
Our Human Rights & Human Trafficking professor suggested the Columbia Road Flower Market, so Sunday morning we headed about a mile and a half north of our flat in Whitechapel. The market was absolutely incredible. Flower stalls lined both sides of the street and musicians’ music and the smells of coffee and flowers trailed through the air. A side street had more food, an amazing olive stand, antique stalls, and more musicians. We bought the best olives, lovely pastries, and delicious chai tea. We browsed little shops and found ourselves surrounded by bright, lovely flowers on all sides. It was definitely one of my favorite experiences in London so far.

We spent the afternoon wandering around Embankment. We had a lovely lunch and study time at the Sherlock Holmes pub; the music was 80s music and the display and décor was all based on either Sherlock Holmes or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself. We spent the evening studying at the Good Samaritan, this lovely, nice little pub we found not three blocks from our flat. The pub has lovely tea and coffee served with biscuits.

Monday, July 10th
After our first class (Human Rights & Human Trafficking), Ricardo and I sat at Starbucks studying and found out around 1pm that our second class of the day (Corporations) was going to be cancelled. Suddenly we had a whole afternoon in front of us, so we headed to the Museum of Natural History. Unfortunately, the main Great Hall was closed since they were installing a giant whale skeleton. This is part of the Museum’s attempt to be a part of a more modern movement of museums to be involved in current issues. (Yay, ocean awareness!) So after 20 or so minutes we left with the hopes of coming back at a later time.  We then hopped over to the Science Museum next door, got some food, and decided we weren’t in the mood for museum-going. So we went home and spent the rest of the evening studying at the Good Samaritan again.

Tuesday, July 11th
Tuesday was the first day of rain we experienced this trip. Every day until Tuesday has been sunny and bright. Luckily the rain never came down too, too hard while we were outside. We did get caught in the rain on the way to our second class at Swan House though.

Over the weekend, Ricardo and I got tickets to this thing called Alice’s Adventures Underground. So we headed towards Waterloo come evening and found our way to The Vaults, as the location was called. We walked into the most fantastical, whimsical area. There were painted wooden trees everywhere and Alice in Wonderland themed things like giant Eat Me and Drink Me tags. The actual Alice Underground part was a 90-minute interactive adventure; that’s the best I can describe it. Our group got separated into two via an eat me/drink me choice and then got further split into four parts total, with each group being assigned a card. Somehow, we managed to get the heart suit and Ricardo got chosen to be the head of the group as the Ace of Hearts.

The whole experience was magical. It was full of actors dressed up as frogs and cards and the White Rabbit, and all of it was a story that we, as cards, were intimately a part of. It was a really neat experience. Each group gets a different storyline, and apparently there are up to 38 storylines within the place?  After the whole experience culminated in a grand finale, Ricardo and I got and shared two delicious Alice-themed cocktails. My goodness, Earl Gray flavored drinks are yummy.

Wednesday, July 12th
There were no specific plans for Wednesday, so after Corporations, several people from our class were going to go a block down to the Old Red Lion. There are only 19 people participating in our whole program and problem 15 eventually made it over. It was a ton of fun. We all just got the chance to talk and learn about different cultures. Even though the Georgetown London Summer program is through Georgetown law, it’s also one of the only study abroad summer programs for law students. Three of my fellow students are Italian and study law in Italy. I found out on Wednesday exactly how different Italian law schools are from law schools in the US. Essentially, it seems like the US is actually the only country where law school happens post-college. Regardless, it was fascinating to learn about other cultures and schools and everything of the sort.

Ricardo and I have been trying to do at least one new thing a day since we are in London. So after the Old Red Lion, we headed to Hyde Park. We got a corn cup from a local vendor. A corn cup is exactly what it sounds like: roasted corn in a cup. And we walked through Hyde park until we couldn’t see a single building or street and were surrounded by trees and grass and flowers on every side. It was a truly lovely break from the hustle and bustle of city life we’ve been surrounded by for the past several weeks.

Thursday, July 13th
Thursday’s big event was one of our fellow classmate’s birthdays. The entire evening was so much fun. The main event was a pub crawl. A few things of note: Ricardo buying three whole pizzas when he thought he was buying three pieces. Latin dancing. A random guy who trailed along with our party for a few hours. Hilarity everywhere.

Friday, July 14th
Everyone showed up to our 9am class on Friday. No one really spoke up in class. Nonetheless, that’s still an impressive record, considering how late people were out the night before. After Corporations (second class of the day), Ricardo and I got pastries from Paul and had a nice little picnic at a nearby park called Lincoln’s Inn Fields. From there, we walked to the Thames and crossed over a bridge to the south bank. There, we discovered a street book seller booth, delicious food truck burritos, a graffitied and awesome looking skate park, and a sandbox area that doubled as a beach since it was right along the Thames. Of course we also discovered another bookstore. We walked back towards Big Ben and had the perfect Friday early evening.

Saturday, July 15th
Saturday consisted of a day trip to Oxford planned by Georgetown. We all met up for a bus at 9am, drove to Oxford, and got a quick coffee right before a tour of the general place. Oxford is amazing. During the tour, our tour guide pointed out multiple places where Harry Potter had been filmed. Most notably, we found out the library we were at was the same library that Harry had looked for books in the restricted section and Hermione had brewed the polyjuice potion. It was amazing. Did you know that, in Oxford, there is an actual lightpost and a statute of a faun that inspired Lucy’s entrance into Narnia in the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe?

After the tour ended, Ricardo and I saw one of the college churches, the Museum of the History of Science, and the Bodleian Libraries. Incidentally, the library turned out to hold some unexpected surprises in store; Oxford, of all places! After the two-hour bus ride home, we had dinner at a pizza place in Waterloo, and thus ended Week 2 of London.

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