Checking All the Boxes – Rachel Kesseler

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Day 25, cont: Hanging out with Dad

When Lo and I got back to London around 4:00, we took a taxi from Kings Cross Station back to Regents to check into our new rooms.  I traded my (huge) suitcase in for a smaller weekend back, packed a few things, and headed to the tube station to meet Dad at the hotel he was staying at (Quick tip: don’t try carrying two bags full of luggage around the underground during rush hour).  The traffic was the worst I have ever seen, anywhere.  When I got there to the hotel, Dad was still stuck in traffic, so I checked into my room and headed up to the seventh floor – it was amazing.  The Langham is a famous hotel in London, and it definitely lived up to the reviews.

Around 7:45, he was still stuck in traffic.  I went downstairs to meet him when we got there, we hopped in the same cab he had been in all afternoon, and drove to the AquaShard for dinner.  Because he is as awesome as he is, we somehow ended up with a window table on the 32nd floor looking out over the entire city just in time for sunset.

It was an all around great night with great views, great food, and the best company.

Day 26: Tourists

On Friday morning, we slept in a little bit (my own room + a king bed + air conditioning + exhaustion = best night of sleep ever).  After we got ready, we headed to Starbucks to plan out our day.  Over lattes, we decided to take the hop-on, Hop-off tour; by doing this we were able to see all the important, touristy stops in London in one full swoop.

The first time we got on, we took the bus from Baker Street (by Regent’s University) to the London Bridge.  We got off there to walk around Borough Market, but it was packed so we opted for one of the nearby restaurants.  It was tucked back into one of the alleys and had such an amazing atmosphere.

After lunch, we walked around a little bit more, got back on the bus (drove across Tower Bridge), and ended up near St. James Park.  By now, we were cutting it a little close on time, so we got off, and I got him to take the Underground for the first time ever! Of course, the one time I try to convince him how cool and easy it is, the station is absolutely packed. It was still a fun experience, but I think he’s sticking to cabs.

When we arrived back to The Langham, grabbed a quick drink, got ready and took a cab to Prince of Wales Theatre to see The Book of Mormon (4th row!).  It was hilarious; I definitely recommend it to anyone in need of a good laugh.

As if the play wasn’t enough, we hopped back in another cab after the show and went to a popular Italian restaurant, Novikov, for our 10:30 reservation.  The restaurant is split in two when you walk in – Japanese food on the top floor and Italian food on the bottom floor.  It was hands down one of the best meals I have ever had, and the atmosphere was unbeatable.  It was a great way to end night #2 with Dad.

Day 27: South Bank

It was a late night, so we decided to sleep in, again, to pack up our stuff.  Then we headed to Starbucks (again), and we sat and talked for a little over an hour before we had to go back and finish packing up to leave. We caught the very end of the Queen’s birthday parade on tv right before we left.

It was the such a fun 48 hours having Dad here showing him all my new favorite parts of London and discovering a few more!  I couldn’t have asked for a better couple of days.

When I got back to Regents, Lo and I took the Tube down to South Bank where there are food trucks, small markets, street performers, music, theaters, a carousel, and so much more.  It was a little overwhelming at first trying to figure out where we wanted to go, but the atmosphere quickly consumed me, and I felt like a five-year-old running around a carnival.  We decided to stop at the Mexican food truck (great choice), then walked around a little bit, occasionally stopping to watch the street performers. Eventually we ended up at the Udderbelly, a big festival area centered around a huge blow up, upside down purple cow.  In the back corner, there was a place called Wunderground, and the booths were all wooden imitations of go-carts with vintage looking advertisements wallpapered on the wall. The whole area was such a unique experience, and we got to see so many interesting things.

A few hours later, we started walking along the river for a couple of miles to Borough Market where we got on the tube and shopped around Oxford Street for a little while before coming back to Regents to meet up with everyone else for the night!

Day 28: Lazy

Sunday morning’s weather was a little gloomy, so we slept in and went to a late lunch.  We were all exhausted all of a sudden (I think the trip is starting to catch up to us).  We ate at a Greek tapas restaurant that we had passed the day before when we were walking along the river.  It was just what we needed.  After lunch, we came back to the dorms to relax for a little bit and write our papers.  Around 5:00, Emalie, Katie, and I took the Tube to St. Paul’s cathedral for mass.  It was absolutely gorgeous inside.

It was a lazy Sunday, but much needed to save up our energy for the last coupe of days in London!

Day 29: Cambridge

Today we took a bus to Kings College and Cambridge with our speaker, Mallory.  Mallory is a graduate of Kings Cross and has achieved a number of very impressive things over the years.  Today, he placed special focus on a couple of the famous graduates of the college such as the very famous economist John Keyes.

Fun Fact: In 1999, Time magazine published a list of what is considered the most “influential and important” 100 people of the twentieth century, and King’s College claimed two of those spots – Alan Turing (computer pioneer) and John Keynes (economist).

After this discussion, we visited the chapel.  The intricate stain glass windows were amazing, especially when we found out the meanings behind each of them.  The bottom windows told the story of Jesus from birth to crucification, and the upper window depicted events that correlate with Jesus’ story.  One of the major points he made about this was the transformation of storytelling over the years. Long ago, if a story wanted to be recorded, it had to be told over and over again in order to pass it down verbal.  Eventually, the printing press was created and people could write things down to share stories.  There are major differences between telling stories verbally, via words, or in pictures, and often times, the method of covering ideas can strongly effect the impact of story has on an individual.

Following our tour of the chapel, we had a few free hours to explore the town of Cambridge, so we grabbed lunch, walked around the market, and had afternoon tea.  Then, we got back on the bus to go to the World War II Madingley American Cemetery and Memorial.  It is the only WWII American military cemetery in the UK.  Officially, the site is called Cambridge American Military Cemetery because the land was donated by Cambridge University.  The site is the final resting place of over 3800 graves of American service men and women who died throughout the WWII era.

The number of crosses in the cemetery and the thousands of names on the wall of missing military members was incredibly eye-opening.  It really shows how lucky we are to live in a country like the united States and how many people have given their lives to continue to allow us this privilege.  From high level commanders, pilots, and naval officers to bakers, postmen, and nurses, there was a place for all people involved in the war.  The four words the administration uses to sum up the vast number of people buried here are Courage, Competence, Honor, and Sacrifice, and this couldn’t be more accurate.

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