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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

London, Part One

In Which I Survive

After nearly two months of living in England, I was starting to wonder if I’d ever make it to London. So when Amy invited me to go with her and stay with her friend Betsy in Woking (just outside of London) for the weekend, I jumped at the chance.

We took a train to Woking, and in anticipation of the hour long journey, I took along the sock I’d been knitting and Plato’s Laws (my “fun” reading at the moment). Unfortunately, all my planning was in vain because the train was packed. Not only couldn’t Amy and I find a seat, we couldn’t even find a wall to lean against, or a pole to hang onto. So we spent the entire trip standing, swaying back and forth, and trying not to fall on the toddler sitting on the floor near us. But we survived, arrived in Woking, met up with Betsy, and planned out what we wanted to do the next day.

The first thing we saw in London was the London Eye. After taking lots of pictures…

…we went on to our first stop of the day. St. Paul’s.

Last night we had decided that we would try to climb all 530 steps to the top. Since there’s three levels, we figured we could stop at each one, rest if we needed to, then continue the climb. The first level was inside, so no pics. The second one was outside and the view was amazing:

We then went onto the third level. We were just a flight away from the top when we heard “beep beep beep” over the intercom. One of the security guards told us it was the fire alarm, and we’d have to evacuate. She opened the emergency fire exit door (you know you’ve always wanted to go out the emergency exit…) and down we went. And down, and down, and down. Over 500 stairs in one fell swoop, all the time listening to the intercom going “Beep beep beep. A fire has been reported in the building. Please exit immdiatly. Beep beep beep”.

We never did find out what had happened, but by the time we had made it to the bottom, they were already letting people back into the building. So it couldn’t have been too serious. We were disappointed that we hadn’t made it to the top, but didn’t think we could handle the climb twice in one day. So we went on to our next stop…the Tower of London.

We took a guided tour with a Yeoman Warder (Beefeater), who was an excellent tour guide.

At the beginning of the tour he asked how many Americans were in the audience, then told us “if you’d only paid your taxes, all this history could have been yours”. The tour was brilliant, and I got a lot more out of the visit than I would have on my own. After the tour we looked at the Crown Jewels, and then visited the armoury.

By that time it was getting late, so we headed back to Betsy’s house to plan out what we wanted to do Sunday….

To be continued….

1 comment:

Zachary said...

You should've told the beefeater that, without us, all that history would be written in German. =P