Monday, 20 January 2014

Winter Break: Family Trip Part 2

Still trying to catch up with the blogs after break…everything else keeps piling up in front of me! I’m back from London and I have my last exam (Polish) tomorrow, and then I’m finally done with exams and can relax a bit before classes start on the 27th! Okay so back to my break:

Dec. 24: Car and I had a lie-in and my parents went out to lunch with Bob and Marilynn. I was jealous since I wanted to hang out with Bob and Marilynn. Car and I did a bit of shopping in Notts, then went to St. Peter’s Church for a Christmas Eve service. They had different melodies for some of our favorite songs, but thank god they didn’t fuck up O Come All Ye Faithful, my sister’s favorite Christmas song. Car and I had whisper time in our room and it was a different but good Christmas Eve.

Dec. 25: Christmas Day! I showed the fam around Notts, saw Nottingham Castle and the Robin Hood statue, then walked to my campus and back so they could see where I go to school. Literally everything was closed and the entire city was completely shut down. I watched the Queen’s Christmas Address at 3:00pm, which is my new Christmas tradition for when I live in England. She was so cute! Napped hard, then ate at a Chinese restaurant—it was open! Yay!

Dec. 26: Bus to London. Made sure to steal bus muffins from the hotel for the journey. Took the Tube to our hotel, settled in (I had my own single room!), then got pizza for dinner and walked to Piccadilly Circus. Got Cinnabon. Amazing.

Dec. 27: First full day in London with the fam! It was an early morning, headed to St. Paul’s Cathedral and then to the Tower of London. Back home! Unfortunately it was swarming with tourists and raining, so our Yeoman Warder tour was only ½ hour and in the chapel. For the record, my sister not only aced her quiz but also got bonus points! Mom and dad both failed. Went to the Tower Bridge Exhibition, heavy resting period at the hotel, French restaurant for dinner, and Car and I went out to one of my favorite places, the Cider Tap, and it was closed. We went to a pub around the corner of the hotel and went to bed early.

Dec. 28: Headed out early again to Portobello Road Market and had to resist buying everything! When I’m rich, I’ll go back and spend a lot of money buying cool stuff there. We had a beautiful morning at Hyde Park and Kensington Palace (unfortunately Will, Kate, and George were still at Sandringham), wandered around Harrods, and headed to Hampton Court Palace. It felt good to be home! It was my first tour for other people there, and I wish we had had more time. We did make sure to see the most important exhibits, the Maze, a lot of the gardens, and a special show in the Great Hall of Henry VIII and his court. It was so awesome!!! Dancing, music, drama, trumpets, and of course Henry himself. Quick stop at the Chapel Royal, then headed back to the hotel via trains and Tubes.

Dec. 29: Made it to the Churchill War Rooms right when they opened, and were able to beat the bad crowds. I was able to appreciate it so much more now that I know Churchill so much better! What a man. Walk down Whitehall to Trafalgar Square and to the National Portrait Gallery. As Sam says at the end of the last Lord of the Rings movie, “well, I’m back.” Our tour was a little impeded by a “Portrait of the Day” talk in the Tudor Gallery, but we powered through, and then went to the Jewish Museum.

Dec. 30: We went to Westminster Abbey and were in line before it opened. It was so packed with tourists and so crowded and it was so frustrating. It was so great to see all my people again! I also made sure to see two things I missed when I was there last time: Anne of Cleves’ small, plain, brown plaque on a wall, and the urn containing the remains of the Princes in the Tower. It was amazing! Even though it was raining, we walked to my spot in St. James Park and saw Buckingham Palace. Had a break before heading on our next adventure…the HP Studio Tour. All I can say is: WOW. As someone who has been to both a world movie premiere and Harry Potter World in Florida, this experience was just like those days. One of the best days of my life. Being there, with all the fans and with all my people and with all their things, it was a dream come true. I never imagined it could be so good. During the introduction in the Great Hall, I answered all three of the guide’s questions (no one else said anything! Come on guys!) and she called me a geek. Damn straight.

There was just so much to see and stare at and experience. You can see all the props, Yule Ball costumes, the gates, the boy’s dormitory, Gryffindor common room, potions classroom, Qudditch, the Burrow, Ministry of Magic (complete with Magic is Might statue!), Hagrid’s Hut, the Riddle graveyard, Privet Drive, Knight Bus, Godric’s Hollow, chess pieces, Diagon Alley, and then the finale… the Hogwarts Castle model. It was a dream come true. It was so beautiful and I cried so hard and it was one of the best moments of my life. Blew a lot of money in the gift shop (fuck da police) but I don’t care because I am so deeply in love with that beautiful story that J.K. created.

“The stories we love best do live in us forever, so whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”

Dec. 31: We headed off to Windsor Castle for the last day together before my fam headed back home. The Chapel was just as wonderful as I remembered—it was my first time back at Windsor since the first time I went when Sigrid and I were there. I made sure to find Charles Brandon’s grave, since I missed it the first time! The Castle is so old and has so much history. Then we headed from there to Greenwich to see the Royal Observatory, which (after we walked up a giantass hill) we found out was closed. We had our last fish and chips together at the pub by our hotel and some great cider, and then Car and I rested before setting off. New Years Eve in London! I missed my NYE date Claire. Unfortunately, we both had to be up so early so we weren’t drinking. #soberandunamused2014 We headed to Trafalgar Square and watched drunk people. I just wanted to be them. We talked about our years in 2013 and what we hoped 2014 would bring. The fireworks were honestly kind of lame and anti-climactic. I guess being American, I’m used to big fireworks that last forever. But everyone else seemed to love it! We headed back to the hotel at 12:15am and both went to sleep.

Hopefully I can fit everything else from break into one blog post! I have to run some errands and study for Polish, but hopefully I’ll have more time to catch up once exams are done.

Score so far:
            Castles: 8
            Cathedrals/famous religious places: 6

P.S. If you love Harry Potter, please go to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. You will not regret it.

Hanging out with my sister at Hampton Court Palace


Dreams really do come true!

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