14. The London Chronicles: Part III

Sunday, July 16th
On Sunday, Ricardo left bright and early to attempt to vote. Venezuela, his birth nation, has been in a state of complete turmoil, to say the least. I’m not as informed about the present state of politics or political history of Venezuela as I should, but needless to say, I’m trying to learn. Anyways, an important vote for Venezuela took place across the globe on Sunday, so Ricardo did his best to make it.

We were supposed to meet up with a group of our classmates for brunch and then go visit the Tate late Sunday morning. I made it to the restaurant a good half an hour before anyone else showed up and had a really lovely time discovering these steps down to the shore of the Thames and looking for shells along the edge of the waves. Brunch was a delicious affair of a yogurt/granola/fruit concoction and the best cappuccinos.

After brunch, we all went to the Tate and split up into a few parties. Our party went through one of the multiple buildings and saw a good majority of the free exhibits. Modern art museums are now fascinating to me. I’ve been to more in the past six months than I’ve seen in the rest of my life and I have discovered that I really love seeing how creative people are and what ideas exist out there. After four floors of exhibits, our group went up to the café that looks out over the Thames. The view was absolutely breathtaking. So we had tea and scones and a view of lovely London.

After eating, we all dispersed our separate ways and Ricardo and I spent a good hour on the beach of the Thames collecting beach treasures. We found the coolest stones, an abundance of blue and green sea glass, and a few seashells. It was a really lovely afternoon. Did I mention it was our six month anniversary?

Sunday evening was a combination of studying, grocery shopping, and McDonald’s. London is all about real life.

Monday, July 17th
On Monday, we had a guest speaker between our two classes. He is an immigration and human rights lawyer and gave a truly wonderful and informative talk about human rights and the refugee children of Calle.

After classes, Ricardo and I went to Picadilly Circus with the purpose of going souvenir shopping. There, philosophy discussions and scarves of England intersected, because we are the scarf bystanders. We were both tired and hungry and grumpy and were trying to find somewhere to eat when all of a sudden we stumbled into a Rainforest Café. Just like that, we were transported back to our childhoods and had the best meal there. Who can resist the allure of jungle animals and thunderstorms that occur when you’re eating? We ate hummus and olives and chicken strips. It was such a happy meal. In the Rainforest Café gift shop, we got one of those little bags where you can mix and match little plastic animals and – I tell you – that was the best five pounds spent.

We left the café and decided to walk a little more. We passed a Waterstone Books. I almost didn’t go in because we’ve bought so many books already, but thank goodness Ricardo pulled me in. There in the front entrance hall was a poster advertisement saying Cornelia Funke, author of Inkheart and Thief Lord, was giving a talk and having a book signing at 6:30 on Monday. It was 6:40. We ran downstairs and I ended up getting to sit in on a conversation with Cornelia Funke. She was one of my favorite authors growing up. It was amazing getting to be there. It was so unexpected! No one expects to randomly run into their favorite childhood author. I got a chance to ask her if she bases most of her characters on real-life people (and she does). We got books signed by her and it was amazing.

We got home and watched the first episode of Season 7 of Game of Thrones, as it had come out the night before at 2am and Sunday evening was the first chance we had to watch it. Freaking Ed Sheeran. It was all amazing.

Tuesday, July 18th
Our summer program technically makes us students at King’s College London, but our specific program is actually through the Center for Transnational Legal Studies. Our Human Rights & Human Trafficking class meets in the Strand building on the King’s College London campus. Our second class, Corporations, meets in Swan House, which is up at the end of Chancery Lane about 15 minutes away. My whole point in explaining this geography is that between the Strand and Swan House lies the Court of Justice.

The Court of Justice is this overshadowing, sprawling building of stunning gothic architecture. According to our legal tour guide a few weeks ago, the building was made to intimidate everyone going to court; the Court of Justice is where most civil cases occur. You can go in and tour the Courts after passing through security. So after our first class down at the Strand, Ricardo and I went in and saw the courts. Inside, the building was beautiful. It really was like a castle or cathedral; I suppose you could call the place a cathedral of the law. We wandered around and saw both the display on legal clothing (lawyers in the UK have to wear wigs and robes every time they enter a court) and the Bear Garden, which did not have a bear and wasn’t even a garden.

After Corporations, Ricardo went and met up with one of his old friends that we had bumped into in Oxford. I joined up with them an hour or two later and we had a lovely conversation over coffee about our respective trips in London and Oxford. After that meet-up, Ricardo and I went back to The George and had hummus with olives and toast with avocado and eggs and a good period of very nice study time.

Wednesday, July 19th
Wednesday’s adventures started out after class with Ricardo and I going up towards Camden Market. The entire area is more hip than than area we’d seen in London so far. Lots of younger people roamed the streets and shops and stalls with souvenirs and cool gadgets, fidges, and clothing lined the streets. We first stopped at this pub called The Elephant Head for a delicious tuna sandwich and a light beer. The Elephant Head was definitely the most hippy-ish pub I’ve been in since arriving in London. There were elephant drawings and tads of tie dye on the inside and layer upon layer of flower pots hanging on the outside. There was a jukebox in the corner and our bartender had a ton of cool, artsy tattoos.

Camden Market itself is surrounded by some stream or river and you cross over a charming bridge to get there. The market is a giant, maze-like sprawl of various shops and stalls selling everything from food to jewelry to clothing to used books to antiques and everything in between. Man, it was amazing. There were amazing jewelry artists there. There was a stall with antique cameras. There was a stall of magic tricks. There was a stall with one last, remaining fluffy egg paste doughnut thing powdered with sugar that we bought and ate and the powdery doughnut thing was delicious. We wandered around for a few hours before getting lost on our way out.

Two of the girls in our program are from Italy and invited us all over Wednesday night to their apartment for a night of homemade Italian food. Ricardo and I got to the area early and studied at a little diner for a while before going over to their house. Just about everyone from our program showed up and the entire evening was lovely. I had so many great conversations over the course of the evening. They made two different kinds of pasta and homemade tiramisu. My goodness, that tiramisu (which is already my favorite dessert) was the best I have ever had.

At the end of the evening, we left just in time to get to the nearest tube station before the tube shut down for the night. But when we were close to the station, Ricardo realized he had forgotten his wallet at the house we had just left. (His oyster card – aka the way to get onto the tube – was in his wallet.) We started being followed back by some sort of crazy guy. He was making weird noises and followed us all the way to the gate of the house. When we got to the apartment, we called our friends to come let us in (they live on the third floor), and during that whole time this crazy man leaned on the fence staring at us and muttering in French. He finally left after Ricardo asked him what he wanted. But after that, we just took an uber straight home.

Thursday, July 20th
After class on Thursday, we headed home and packed and left on our way to Paris.

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