16. The London Chronicles: Part V

Monday, July 24th
Okay, honestly, our Monday after coming back from Paris wasn’t all that exciting. We went to our two classes (complete with normal coffee shop stop at Café Nero in the back of the bookstore between classes, as always) and had a lot of homework to work on for the coming week. But since we were hungry after Corporations, we decided to go to the City of Yorke.

Now the City of Yorke is a pub probably four doors down from Swan House on High Holborn. The sign is a golden shield with “City of Yorke” proudly painted in gothic letters. The gothic lettering of the “Y” looks so much like a “D” that the first day we were there, Ricardo called it the “City of Dorke”. And ever since then we’ve wanted to stop at the City of Dorke.

Needless to say, we went in and were greeted by this pub that looks small before you enter but after you make it past the hallway opens into a large room with a high ceiling. There were lots of little cubby tables around the edges and one of these is where we sat. I got a delicious mushroom and goat cheese pie? It was so good.

And then we went home and studied for the rest of the evening.

Tuesday, July 25th
On Tuesday, as we made our way from the Strand building and Human Rights & Human Trafficking up Chancery Lane (the law capital of London) towards Swan House on High Holborn, we detoured and went to this little coffee shop called The Press. I had kept seeing it every day but we had never stopped in there. I’m so glad we did stop that day. It was this little hipster bar with typewriters on the walls and the most delicious chai latte you ever did have. We had a lovely little break with said chai and a flat white (a favorite in London) and pastries.

After Corporations, the law program had set us up a Tour of Parliament. Most everyone in the program went, so we all gathered at Swan House and set off towards the famous Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. (In case of any confusion, Big Ben is the clock on Elizabeth Tower which is part of Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey is adjacent to Houses of Parliament. They look much the same because the same architect built them both, or modeled Houses of Parliament after Westminster Abbey. One or the other. I can’t remember which.) Houses of Parliament was amazing. No photos were allowed. There were portraits of English royalty everywhere and I realized during that trip exactly how much I know of the Tudors and that period of British history. And also how woefully ignorant I am about any other point in British history. The architecture was beautiful. The House of Commons is on the other side of the building from the House of Lords, and the House of Lords is all red while the House of Commons is green. We learned about the voting system there and got to see Theresa May’s box where she receives her daily mail and updates. The whole experience was pretty amazing.

After Parliament, Ricardo and I headed just across the Thames and past the Tate museum to Shakespeare’s Globe. I had gotten sitting tickets for Much Ado About Nothing weeks before. The Globe was so much more than I could have even expected. The outside was full of these semi-artificial painted trees that were so full and rich in their prop production that they simply added to the magic of the whole place, as did the strings of colored lights everywhere. “LOVE” was written in big colorful letters on the side of the theatre as part of the theatre’s Summer of Love theme. (The whole city of London embraced the Summer of Love theme for gay pride; signs of such celebration and rainbows were seen everywhere throughout the summer.) We were up in the very right-hand corner of the second level of chairs. You could get standing tickets for five euros and stand right up close to the stage like the commoners back in the days of Shakespeare, but I was very lazy and wanted to sit for the play.

As soon as we walked into the theatre (which was open to the elements, by the way), the first thing I saw was a giant logo for “Santa Fe R.R.” on the side of a boxcar. Oh my goodness, I found it hilarious. New Mexico even follows me to the Globe Theatre in London. The whole stage was set up in Hispanic Mexican style, as the whole play – all with the original Shakespeare script – was set in the time of the Mexican Revolution. It was absolutely fantastic.

After the play, Ricardo and I walked across the Harry Potter bridge that the Death Eaters tear down at the beginning of Deathly Hallows Pt. 1. Right on the other side of that bridge was Saint Paul’s Cathedral. The cathedral looked so much like the U.S. Capital that I was suddenly very confused about how I’d gotten back to D.C. from London in the blink of an eye. On the other side of Saint Paul, we met up with several of our classmates as it was two of their birthdays and they were on the tail end of having a night out to celebrate. We all walked around for a good half an hour or forty-five minutes together, found that everywhere was closed, and we headed home.

Wednesday, July 26th
Between classes while Ricardo and I were at Café Nero, we decided that we would spend the few extra days we had before I started EIW interviews (since we had three or so extra days) in Madrid. So the entire luncheon time was a frenzy of rearranging flight tickets home, getting tickets to and from Madrid, and booking an Airbnb for Madrid. It was such a great decision.

After Corporations ended, I dressed up quickly and met Julie so we could go have high tea! She’s the only other person (other than Ricardo, obviously) that I knew going into the London program since we were both Section 3ers. A week or so before London, Julie had asked me if I wanted to go get high tea on July the 26th since she had to make reservations a month ahead of time. I’m so glad she looked into it.

The place Julie and I got tea at was called Sketch and I have to say it was one of the coolest, most bizarre experiences I had while in London. You walk into this very modern-seeming place with a piano covered in pink neon lights that plays by itself, you’re ushered into this very pink, very fancy room lined with pink cushiony chairs on all sides, and you look closer at the walls and realize this place is very different from what you first thought. Tons of sketches were framed on the walls on all sides and they said things like “PENIS” with a sketch of a tree, or a T-Rex saying that he’d pooped a lot. The sketches were hilarious and so random and so absolutely inappropriate that it made the whole experience that much more memorable. We had a huge selection of teas to choose from. When they brought the tea to us, the teapots were white with labels of “Ghost” on them while the teacups had “Just forget about it” on the inside. All the ceramic pottery used was the same way. There was a Caviar Man that came and brought caviar around to each table as the appetizer. He was dressed in a pink suit and had a straw hat and waxed moustache. I swear to you I have never seen a man at his job more fawned over than the Caviar Man was fawned over at multiple different tables while we were there.

The multi-layered tray of finger sandwiches, pastries, and bubble-gum-rose marshmallows looked absolutely delicious and tasted even more delicious. I was ready to explode by the time we’d finished eating everything.

And the bathrooms. Oh, the bathroom. So you walk into these double doors and suddenly there’s a large round staircase leading up both to the left and the right while in the middle of the staircase is a small, tucked away bar area. You ascend the staircase and are greeted with a completely white room with stained glass square colored skylights and giant eggs everywhere. You open the door to one of these eggs, walk inside, and go to the bathroom in a giant egg. You can literally poop in a giant egg there. (That thought was so funny to me that I had to write it down.) And then after you exit your giant egg you find one of the many Victorian sinks along the wall. Man, that was a zany bathroom.

After tea, Julie and I said goodbye and I found my way to this giant toy store called Hamlin’s. It just looked too cool from the outside that I had to go in. That toy store was at least five stories tall and had literally everything I have ever wanted from infomercials over the course of my life in there. They also had an entire floor dedicated to the Noble Collection, which I didn’t find out about until after I left. This was all by the Oxford Circus area, so I walked past many a fine clothing store while heading home. I finally made it home to where Ricardo was studying and read books and studied together for the rest of the evening.

Thursday, July 27th
On Thursday, it was starting to get to be crunch time. Ricardo had a paper due on the 1st of August, which was also the day of our second exam. So after we got done with our two classes (we always got done at 3:30pm every day), Ricardo headed to the library to work on said paper and I headed to the Victoria & Albert Museum for the last hour or so before they closed. I spent a good while in a room full of sculptures and sketched a beautiful torso sculpture that was there. I got a scone and a glass of wine and spent a lovely half an hour reading and eating underneath enormous chandeliers in the grand café. I spent a little bit of time outside in the massive courtyard where a wading pool and fountain entertained children and adults alike. The children all waded in the wading pool and splashed around with joy while the adults merely satisfied themselves with putting their bare feet in the pool from the sides. Honestly, I think every person in that courtyard really wanted to go play in the water. It’s such a pity that adulthood makes us so dignified that we can’t go have joyous fun when it’s right there in front of us.

[Rewind to before the Victoria & Albert Museum:] I said goodbye to Ricardo at Swan House and started walking towards the Holborn station by myself. As I was rounding the corner of the street, I saw a man that I thought looked like Benedict Cumberbatch. He was wearing exercise clothing and holding a shopping bag while smoking a cigarette. I was pretty sure it was him. To my surprise, he entered the station right behind me and went through one of the turnstiles right before me. It was most definitely Benedict Cumberbatch. I couldn’t be a creeper and take a photo (and it was obvious he was trying to avoid attention; he kept his head down and kept looking left and right to see if he was recognized), but I wish I could have. We went down the same elevator and both of us got on the Picadilly Line, even though he went the opposite way. That was my major celebrity sighting in London!

Earlier in the day, I had gotten tickets to An American in Paris, which was to be playing at the Dominion Theatre. So I found myself at the nearest tube station and walked through Chinatown (a cool, accidental find) and this Harry Potter themed store that was all about the graphic designers who had designed Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes, for instance. It was so cool. I still had an hour before I could even go pick up tickets so I finally found a pub with seating and food and got an appetizer and read until it was time to go to the theatre.

An American in Paris was fantastic. I’ve heard a lot about it but really didn’t know any specifics. It was essentially a musical ballet or a ballet musical. One or the other. One of the two main girls was a beautiful ballerina who did sing a little bit, but mainly danced, while the other main girl was just a singer. The whole thing was incredible and I’m so glad I went. It was especially neat since I recognized most of the places they were talking about simply because I myself had gone to Paris less than a week before. Had I seen the show before that trip, I wouldn’t have understood nearly as much geographically!

Friday, July 28th
Second celebrity sighting in two days! I’m pretty positive I saw Maisie Williams walking past me on the way to my first class in the Strand Friday morning. I’m pretty positive it was her. I really lucked out with celebrity sightings while in London. Did I mention that at some point during our trip Ricardo and I had to stop before crossing the road at a light and wait for a while because the King and Queen of Spain and their caravan of cars and security passed in front of us?

Friday was our last day of classes. A month of classes went by so, so very quickly. Human Rights & Human Trafficking was wonderful since we mainly had a day of questions and answers and threads of topics that didn’t necessarily have to do with human rights specifically but linked up, whether by international law or some other means. I guess I should take a bit of time to talk about the classes now. Our professor for HR & HT was named Klaus, and he is from Berlin, Germany, where he currently teaches and is Vice President at Frau University and is also a judge. He was a wonderful, wonderful professor. I really admire him. He was funny and made everything we discussed in class incredibly interesting. He really cared about our learning and gave us excellent advice for the duration of the summer program on great things to do in London.

Between classes Ricardo and I had our last lunch and coffee/tea time at the Café Nero in the back of Blackstone Books. I bought so many books while in London and read four of them over the duration of a month. That’s a rather impressive amount if you consider how many hundreds of pages of homework we had on top of just being in London in the first place. Regardless, I bought many books at Blackstone over the summer. Perks of having a bookstore/coffee shop a block away from one of your classrooms!

After Corporations, which was a short review day, several of us went to… Petticoat Lane? Some Lane that was close by to go to this café that had Strawberry Champagne ice cream. And true to the café’s word, their ice cream (which also included marmalade and some orange chocolate ice cream) was deliciously yummy. On the way to the ice cream place, Ricardo and I spotted a barbershop, so Ricardo also got a haircut! It wouldn’t be worth mentioning except that we’d looked for a barbershop off and on the entire time we were in London.

After finishing at the café, we all headed down to The Old Bank of England, where the program head (with Klaus’ help) had set up a program happy hour for us all. Being as there were 19 students, 3 professors, and 1 program head, everyone knew everyone by the end of the summer and I really do feel closer to this group than I have so far to any other group in law school. A bit of a digression. Anyways, on one of our first days in London, Ricardo had spotted the Old Bank of England and had talked about maybe opening a bank account there, just for the sake of opening a bank account in London. We walked in and discovered it was not a bank but a pub instead. So I’m glad the happy hour there happened because we had enough time to discover that it was actually a wonderful place.

From the Bank of England, Ricardo and I headed straight to King’s Cross/Saint Pancras to catch our train to Dover!

 

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