Tuesday, 19 January 2010

London, Just Like You Pictured It?

"What are you doing?" Angela, my seatmate for the ride to London, asked. Unborn laughter cracked into her voice as she twisted to face me.

"Bouncing," I answered. Though it came out more like "bow-ow-ow-ow-sing," punctuated by kicks of my booted feet against the bus floor and wild looks toward the rain-saturated windows. "We're almost to LONDON! LOOOOOONNNNDOOOONNNN!" The earbud she'd lent me to share her IPod during the journey popped out and whacked me in the shoulder. I continued to wiggle anyways, until Angela sighed and then let loose her own excited laughter.

I suppose you could say I was mildly excited for my first visit to London.

We started out with a bus tour around London, viewing the sights (appropriately, I thought) through rain drops and half-hazy fogged windows. The Tower and the Tower Bridge stood eerily silent; the massive Eye of London appeared part of a gray-black cyclops. Parliament, the Prime Minister's residence (patrolled by plume-hatted guards in red coats), and so many scarlet doubledeckers gamboling up and down the streets that I felt slightly dizzy.

The British Museum, our next stop, was overwhelming. Mounds of mummies, hundreds of hieroglyph fragments, uncountable un-armed (literally, many of them would fail if they needed to be up in arms) statues! The Rosetta Stone, polished and shining behind glass. The Elgin Marbles, lacking limbs and breathing ancient Grecian mystery. The great stone lions in the lobby, conjuring fierce cat-eyed kings of dusty lands.

I was almost glad to leave for Covent Gardens, my head was so bursting with the sights of famous antiquities!

Lunchtime brought warm paella from a stand in the middle of a Covent Garden courtyard, munched sitting on stone steps. After that, my companions followed my spastic steps into toyshops, past postcard stands, and eventually into a little candy shop selling fudge and toffee. I was reminded a bit of the street performers in Quebec - only British accents and the occasional top hat singled out the corner jugglers, comedians, and tightrope trickers.

Also a opera singer who became very emotional whilst bellowing in Italian, and a group of 20-somethings decked out in faerie garb and running about whispering suspicions concerning mortals. Oh, London.

My favorite part of the day arrived with the sight of Trafalgar Square after a wander through the National Gallery. Insert an odd bagpiper with astonishing lung capacity, gaze out at the fountains, spot Big Ben's tower! Your heart will ache for the beauty of it all.

And you may have to curb the desire to go leap into the fountains as well. Such is life.


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