Wednesday May 31
Another Wednesday, another free day to explore! I ventured to Chelsea with some friends and spent the whole afternoon exploring the ritzy area.
Our first stop was the house from the movie The Parent Trap. I absolutely loved this movie growing up, (and still do) so this was a must see destination. It was a little awkward when we first got there because a lady actually living in the house walked right up to the gate when we first arrived outside. She smiled at us as we stared in awe as she nonchalantly unlocked the front door to her 14 million dollar home. We continued to venture around Chelsea as we headed to Bywater Street, a street lined with pastel colored flats. Once again, we saw a lady who actually lives in one of the flats taking out her garbage as we were attempting to take pictures on her neighbor’s stoop. A little awkward, but in the end we got some decent shots!Then we went to the most magical place I’ve visited in my life. Harrods. If you’re ever in London it is a must see location. There are products from every designer imaginable in this ginormous five floor maze-like building. The only thing remotely within my price range was this $13 piece of cake from the Godiva Chocolate Bar. I ate about 3/4ths of it before slipping into a sugar coma. My leftovers were then packaged up into a Harrods bag which I happily carried around on display on our trip home (as if I had just bought one of the hundreds of $5,000 purses on display). Then the bag, along with my cake leftovers, got completely smashed between the Tube doors as they closed, but you best bet I still ate it the next day.
Thursday June 1
Thursday began our weekend bus adventure around England. Our first destination was Stratford Upon Avon, where we stayed in the cutest Bed and Breakfast!We got to town later in the evening so we had very little time to wander around and grab dinner at a pub before heading off to see Julius Caesar at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. The play was over two hours on its own, but about one minute before intermission was supposed to take place a man sitting a few rows in front of me had a medical emergency. At this point in the play Mark Antony is delivering one of the world’s most well-known Shakespearean monologues, while Caesar is laying dead in the center of the stage. Once they were aware that someone in the audience was unwell the actor playing Caesar had to get up (this break in character was pretty funny looking back on it) and people were instructed to leave the theatre. The theatre was cleared for about 25 minutes while medical staff assisted the man, but in theatre the show must go on. So the play then resumed with no further issues. We found out the next day (after some girls in our program ran into one of the actors while walking around town) that the man was thankfully okay. After the show, all of the student in the theatre class got to attend a talkback with the actor that played Brutus in the show. During the talk he addressed his methods as an actor and how he approached the role of Brutus. This talk didn’t end until after midnight so we were all exhausted and went straight to sleep.
Friday June 2
Friday morning began with a trip to the cottage of Anne Hathaway (Shakespeare’s wife, not Princess Mia Thermopolis like some people in our group thought). We toured the cottage, took pictures in the gardens, and learned a lot about Shakespeare and Anne’s relationship. Afterwards we did a walking tour of the town. We went to Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare was buried. Fun Fact: did you know that someone actually dug up Shakespeare’s grave to steal his head and it has yet to be recovered? I had no idea this had happened and I’m still trying to wrap my head (no pun intended) around the idea that a family could be passing down Shakespeare’s skull generation after generation. Friday afternoon we left Straftord Upon Avon and went to Bath. After grabbing dinner a bunch of us met up at Saracens Head, the oldest pub in Bath, for drinks. We were chatting for a bit before discovering that there was karaoke happening in a room in the back of the pub. Seeing so many people from our group sing their hearts out and everyone having so much fun together was definitely a highlight of the weekend.
Saturday June 3
Saturday morning we ate a full delicious english breakfast at our B&B before going on a walking tour of Bath. Our first stop was at the Royal Crescent, a row of 30 houses designed by John Wood (the younger one, as we learned both John Wood Jr. and Sr. both designed many of the iconic buildings in Bath). After the walking tour we went to the Roman Baths. I really didn’t know anything about the Baths before we got there so it was especially cool learning all about the history of this site that was constructed around 70 A.D.
Following touring the baths we wandered around the streets browsing boutique shops. We came across this adorable area with tons of multi-colored umbrellas blowing in the wind. Luckily, it actually didn’t rain at all while we were in Bath. Later in the afternoon we climbed 212 narrow stairs in a spiral staircase to the top of the Bath Abbey Tower. Although my legs were burning and I was out of breath when we got to the top the astounding views of both the city and countryside were completely worth it. This was by far my favorite part of our visit to Bath.
Sunday June 4
On Sunday morning we got back on the bus and headed to our first destination of the day, Stonehenge. The distance from the visitor’s center to the actual stone circle was 1.5 miles so I opted to bus there and then take the scenic walk back. The stone circle was a lot smaller than most of us were expecting and there wasn’t anything else to do or look at there. So once we took our pictures we headed back on the bus to go to Windsor Castle.
At this point everyone was absolutely exhausted from doing things non-stop the entire weekend. The castle was ginormous and beautiful, but we quickly went through the extravagant State Apartments (where photography wasn’t permitted). Most of the inside of the castle wasn’t open to the public so after we finished we got back on the bus and made our way back to London.
Monday June 5
My first class outing on Monday was to the Imperial War Museum to see the People Power: Fighting For Peace exhibit. This exhibit was really powerful as it showcased propaganda and paraphernalia promoting peace from various wars and events throughout history. A perfectly timed outing given the tragic events that occurred in Manchester and London over the past weeks. I thought this quote was incredibly impactful, especially given everything currently going on in the world politically.
That evening, we took the Tube to Wyndham’s theatre to see Don Juan in Soho. This art in the Tube station also seemed to be a sign reminding us of all the strength, love, and acceptance within the city of London.
Don Juan in Soho was absolutely one of the funniest shows I have ever seen. David Tennant and the rest of the cast provided almost two full hours of continuous laughter, something we all greatly appreciated that night.
Tuesday June 6
My first class outing consisted of walking to small bookshops around the area. In a TORRENTIAL downpour of rain. Safe to say it was not one of our favorite trips as we were all cold, exhausted, and soaking wet. But some of the shops had unique books that were cool to flip through. The second class outing of the day was significantly cooler (and drier) than the first. We visited the Design Museum to look at their Designer Maker User collection. There was everything from common household objects, to an AK-47, to a pair of crocs and many other items from the twentieth and twenty-first century. The exhibit provided insight into the design and use of these objects, while everything was bright, colorful, and interactive. I would love to go back and see the other unique exhibits this museum has to offer.