Partying with 50,000 people at Hyde Park

A view of St. Paul's Cathedral from the Millenium Bridge

A view of St. Paul’s Cathedral from the Millenium Bridge

We started the day off at St. Paul’s Cathedral for an Orchestral Eucharist.  St. Paul’s is a beautiful building with extremely lavish decor, as one can imagine.  The service was unlike any I ever attended.  I was amazed that the service was so structured.  The program had almost every spoken word provided for us to follow along.  At some points, I kept itching for something organic, which might explain why I quite enjoyed the deacon’s message.  Her sermon was very personable and felt relevant.  Sometimes the Latin can make one feel a bit displaced.

After the service, Jade and I grabbed lunch and then headed over the Millenium Bridge.  We ran into three book benches today alone!  It was a great day for a book bench hunt.

I took a picture of Jade taking a picture of the Shakespeare Book Bench

I took a picture of Jade taking a picture of the Shakespeare Book Bench outside the Globe

Our plan was to visit the Globe, but it was inexplicably closed for a special event.  We headed over to the Tate Modern where we saw lots of great and lots of weird art.  We spent a few hours roaming around looking at works by Picasso, Louise Bourgeois, Henry Wessel, and Robert Mapplethorpe.  Jade had a great time looking at the photographs and I had a good time absorbing it all in.  I love London and its vast array of cultural attractions.

We walked back to the dorms along the Thames, so I could change my footwear.   My feet were feeling sore from walking around in my flats.  While we are on the topic of feet, here is an ankle update: my sprained ankle has resulted in a very fat and swollen foot that can only be described as “cankle.”  My cankle has actually developed some type of rash, probably from the wrap I wore for a few days.  I blame the London pollution.  Sorry if that was too much information.  Moral of the story: be smart and don’t sprain your ankle.

Jade and I headed over to Oxford Street next, partly to browse and partly in search of a floral crown for my evening venture.  We found one at Primark and I love it.  After our shopping, we parted ways.  I had tickets for the British Summer Time, a concert series at Hyde Park.  I entered the park from the North side, but I needed to pick up my tickets on the South Side.  When I received my tickets, I learned that I needed to make my way back to the North side.  My feet were screaming again because that the small stretch of Hyde park I trekked back and forth was not a very small stretch of land.

When I finally made it into the venue, the Backstreet Boys started playing.  I missed a few of their songs because I had to do some necessary thing such as visit the toilets and queue for fish and chips (obviously).  Surprisingly these fish and chips were way better than the ones I had at the pub.  They were delicious!  They had these little wooden forks to spear the food.  I loved it.

I joined the crowd to watch the Backstreet Boys on the main stage.  I had a great time singing along to some of their hits of yesteryear.  Memories!  They played a few songs from their latest album.  I did not even realize that they had a new album.  News to me!  Also, did anyone else realize that they have been around for twenty years?  I thought that was interesting.  I just had the best time singing along to Backstreet’s Back. It was a good time.

Backstreet Boys breaking it down

Backstreet Boys still breaking it down

After that set, there was an hour break while they set up the stage for McBusted.  I slowly wormed my way closer to the stage.  I didn’t make it very far, as it was extremely crowded.  I came to a standstill multiple times.

McBusted had a fabulous entrance and show.  They dropped onto the stage in the DeLorean.  They started playing a lot of Busted songs.  I’m not familiar with those, so it took a while for me to get into the groove.

The DeLorean

The DeLorean

The concert was so fun.  McBusted are such great performers.  At one point they went off stage and appeared on a UFO stage to play Star Girl.  I think that they invest a decent amount of time and effort into showmanship.

McBusted performing on a UFO

McBusted performing on a UFO

At other points there were fireworks, confetti, tshirt guns, fire, and inflatable triple breasts (I’m not sure what that was about).  They started to show an edited version of Tom’s wedding speech.  I will link the wedding speech because it’s actually quite good and worth a watch (over 13 million views), even if you are not a McFly/McBusted fan.  After that video clip, the band showed up wearing wedding dresses.  Dougie apparently could not get his off, so he spent the rest of the show wearing it.

Also during the show, I witnessed a fight between a middle aged woman and a young man.  There were a surprising number of young men at that concert – more than I thought there would be!  I do not know what they were fighting about, but it definitely got physical.  They were kicking each other.  I also saw the woman try to stub her cigarette in the back of her neck.  Not the classiest of scenes, but it broke up before it got too bad.  The guy walked away.

I never thought that I would have the opportunity to watch McFly in concert, so all in all, it was a great day!  Until next time, stay cool friends!

First two days

I am glad to report that I made it safely to London.  Despite a delay, a threat of another possible delay (they found another plane for us, which thankfully allowed me to make my connecting flight), and getting lost in Dulles, I infiltrated this crazy, busy, beautiful city.  Several other mishaps such as my luggage wheels crumbling, my water bottle leaking all over my documents (tickets, passport, etc.), and both of the zippers of my bag breaking made for a less than smooth arrival to London, but nonetheless, it all worked out and I’ll keep the complaining to a minimum.  Maybe.

My first day in London is fast becoming a hazy memory because I was tired and unfocused from the lack of sleep and general travel woes.  We’ll see how well my memory is (hint: it’s not great, ask Taylor or anyone who has heard me attempt to tell a story).

After a ridiculously nauseating ride to the dorms, which was 546431384512x worse than the flight for me due to some dubious airplane food, we arrived at King’s College on Stamford Street.  Jade and I unloaded our luggage in our respective rooms and immediately hit the neighborhood for an impromptu tour, mostly to fend off sleep and kill time before our scheduled afternoon neighborhood tours.  I have to admit that my first impressions of London were mixed.  I adored some of what my foggy mind and queasy stomach saw on the coach to the dorms, but the hustle and bustle of the city did stress me out at first.  I definitely could not imagine living in such a huge and busy city with millions of anonymous bodies moving around and about.  We’ll see how I feel at the end of this trip.

Cute al fresco dining area

Cute al fresco dining area at the South Bank

 

Our class neighborhood tour took us to Waterloo Station, which was a madhouse because of a million delays, the fact that we were there at 5pm on a Friday, and those million delays.

We also took a walk on the South Bank where we passed many notable places: the British Film Institute, the Southbank Centre Book Market, and the London Eye, with a few glimpses of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.  I know that I definitely left out a few notables, but remember that memory of mine?  Yeah, it’s not great.  I imagine that I’ll explore much more of the South Bank in the following month.

 

Gnome and Big Ben

Feminist Sven and Big Ben

 

We had a quick reception back at King’s College.  After eating, the gals, i.e.  Jade, Taylor, and Laura Douglass made our way to Waterloo in pursuit of Oyster cards.  We got weekly passes and took the opportunity to ride a few trains.  We ended up at St. Pancreas and King’s Cross station (we didn’t think to visit that infamous Platform 9 and 3/4, but we’ll get there one day).  From that general area, we hopped on a bus (or two) and made our way back to the dorms.  Let me just say, double decker buses are definitely the way to go.  They are speedy, crafty buggers and it’s fun watching them navigate London roads.  London bus drivers are my favorite people of the moment.  I admire their mad skills.

I went to bed at a reasonable time (10pm, perhaps), but unfortunately, my body refused to sleep past 2am, so I must report that I had a 2-3 hour Netflix time suck.  On happier Netflix-related notes, I found that we get the UK selection and Taylor recently discovered that Archer Season 5 was available, so yeah, we will definitely be watching that.

I got a few more hours of sleep and rolled out of bed at 8am.  We had our class orientation at 9am.  It was great to hear about some of the locations we will visit and learn more about my fellow students.  I will admit that I am terrible with names and I can’t be trusted to learn everyone’s name quickly.  Following this, we had a general orientation with the larger group.  I was fast becoming hangry at this point, so I was more than happy to stop into Pret’s for a prosciutto and basil sandwich.  It was a great and quick lunch and I can definitely imagine going back to try some of their other offerings.  I was just thrilled to eat a nice, crunchy baguette (soft bread seems to be ubiquitous in Columbia, SC – soft bread can be great, but I do love me a fresh baguette).

Feminist Sven at St. James's Place

Feminist Sven visits St. James’s Palace

With fuel in my belly, we embarked on a LondonAlive! tour.  The gals and I went on the tour focusing on Women, Suffragettes and London landmarks.  We learned about the significance of Florence Nightingale, Boudica (Queen of the Iceni tribe who tried to run out the Romans), and Emmeline Pankhurst (suffragette) in relation to London statues and buildings.  Other places of interest include the Monument to the Women of World War I, Clarence House (where the Queen Mum lived), St. James’s Palace (I totally touched it), and Trafalgar Square (Emma Hamilton, Admiral Nelson’s infamous mistress).  I loved this tour and I am definitely considering weaving women’s rights into my research paper somehow.  We’ll see.

We broke off from the group at Trafalgar Square and headed underground towards South Kensington where we visited Ben’s Cookies.  I do believe those cookies are what dreams are made of.  Amazing.

From South Kensington, we took the bus to Hyde Park.  We took some gratuitous gnome pictures, posed with the Peter Pan statue, watched the swans and geese at the Serpentine (lake at Hyde Park), and walked by the Italian Garden at Kensington Gardens.  At this point, we were quite hungry again (if memory serves right, Jade’s pedometer clocked us at 8 miles at this point, give or take a mile).

London Eye

London Eye

We took a bus towards Victoria Station and after two failed trips to overcrowded pubs, we found refuge at our third pub.  The service was questionable, as the waitress (not from the UK based on her accent) seemed to laugh and mock us.  It was an odd experience, which I will happily attribute as a odd, personal quirk and not the rule.  Who knows?

From the pub, we took the tube to Westminster in search of ice cream.  Alas, the venture was for naught as the only stand we found was closing down for the night.  On a happier note, we found a man standing on the bank playing bagpipes, so it was a decent end to a long day.

I should definitely be asleep right now, but I’m not because I’m a rebel like that.  If I had Dumbledore’s Pensieve, I might have trusted those memories to keep, but since I don’t, it was best to work them out asap.

I hope everyone is having a great summer.  Stay cool, friends!