Thursday, September 13, 2012

Understanding London

Me standing awkwardly in the back of the Palace in the Garden!

Today is a good day. After days of procrastination and several booking cancellations/miscommunications by unreliable “cheap flight” websites, Oktoberfest is booked! This may not seem like a great feat, but for someone who loves planning and organizing well in advance, this was a huge relief for me. I’m sure it was also a relief for my travel-mates, but let’s be real, isn’t my happiness the most important thing here? Kidding, of course, but I am happy that we have a trip set in stone and can explore another part of Europe in an entertaining way. (Note to readers: do NOT use fly.co.uk-big problems for everyone involved).  
To add to the greatest of today, Erin, Allie and I went to Buckingham Palace to enjoy a tour of the State Rooms and the special exhibition, Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration. In case you found the title hard to read, this was a commemoration of the Queen’s 60th year as monarch and thus, her Diamond Jubilee. The exhibition itself had many beautiful pieces, including brooches, necklaces, swords, crowns and other items used in some manner by past British monarchs. Each piece was breathtaking, and some even looked fake simply because they were so extravagant. I loved walking through the exhibition and seeing how each piece holds an important place in history. I also adored the remainder of the tour, through the many State Rooms in the Palace. Every carpet, every piece of furniture, vase, plate, the wallpaper, chairs and mirrors, among other objects, brought a unique sense of beauty and creativity to the Palace decor. Nothing was present by accident, and every single thing had a deep meaning and value that brought it through the Palace doors. 
I took my time through the self-guided audio tour, allowing myself to take in the entirety and majesty of the State Rooms and exhibition. I tried to read every plaque and label to allow myself to understand each piece and the significance of each room. My favorites were the Picture Gallery, where I spent an extended period of time learning about each masterpiece; the White Drawing Room, which was full of gold and white detail on every wall, chair, couch and molding; and of course, the State Dining Room, which had the most beautiful colors and detail present. I was absolutely taken aback by its beauty. I loved the tour, but the only thing missing was the Queen. I know she’s busy, but I know I’ll meet her someday (or at least see her from a short distance)! The Queen does a lot more than the common American might think, but it is important to respect her and admire her for her dedication to the area she rules. 
Another reason this was a good day is because I am finally starting to feel settled. I mentioned that I am directionally-challenged, and while that still holds true, very true, I am managing it. I forced myself to go on a few walks by myself to familiarize myself with the area and with the Underground, and I feel I’m finally getting the hang of it. My lack of disorientation is allowing me to take the guesswork and stress out of the equation so I can just go and see what I want to see without getting lost in this beautiful, yet intensely complex city.  
    OKAY I know this a long post, but I just had to add one more thing! On our first day of orientation, we received tickets to a play called The 39 Steps at the Criterion Theatre. At first, I thought, "Gee, thanks. Some cheap show to throw on the new kids." But I figured I'd go, it was free, after all. None of my roommates were going to last night's showing, so I jumped in with some other people in my building. Let me just tell you: this was one of the most entertaining and talented casts I have ever witnessed. I've seen a ton of shows on and off-Broadway, and the adaptability and versatility of the four cast members playing dozens of parts was delightful.

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