Saturday, May 10, 2014

Across the Pond

Because I know you were wondering, this is the only souvenir I bought in Paris...

I got it at a gas station. And I love it.

Also, I am going to put all three days in London in this one blog post. So it will be long and there will be lots of pictures; I hope you can forgive me. But this is my blog and I do what I want.

Just kidding, I love you, just keep reading.

We drove out of Paris early and took the Chunnel over to the English side of the channel. Who knew there was a magical train that you can drive onto and then it transports you under water to another country? So cool.

The Chunnel comes out right near the White Cliffs of Dover, so of course we had to take a quick look before we headed to London. After some beautiful fields and a castle or two we turned a corner and came across the beautiful cliffs.

We were not in the best spot to get the most dramatic effect, but it was easy to see why the sea wall was so famous. I loved smelling and tasting the salt in the air and feeling the dancing wind on my face. It reminded me of home...

After exploring for a little while we climbed back into the car and went to the LDS London temple. The grounds were amazing and we wandered around for a couple of hours enjoying being outside and the sacred feeling that always comes from being near a temple.


Eventually our stomachs started growling at us so we started searching for something to eat. England, as we all know (to be read in a tone of complete sarcasm), is widely known for their eclectic and flavorful food so of course we completely avoided local cuisine altogether and found the most hilarious "American" barbecue place. We're talking cowboy hats, country music, saddles and antlers on the walls...I loved it. Although it was kind of disconcerting when a girl in plaid, braids, and cowboy boots and hat walk up and start talking to you in a British accent. It's just not right.

Surprisingly, it was really good. We all ate too much, and enjoyed a taste of home. Fat and full, we decided we needed to walk around and try to burn off at least a few of the many calories that we had just consumed so we drove into the heart of the city. Parliament, Big Ben, London Bridge, Westminster Abbey, The Eye of London...such a beautiful city!

We stayed at Lakenheath Air Base, which is about an hour and a half outside of the city, so it made for a late night but I'm so glad we did it. I loved the city at night!

Day two was a Sunday, so we found a local LDS ward to attend and then decided to tour the nearby University of Cambridge campus. We're talking THE Cambridge people. I was geeking out.

It almost felt like we were at Hogwarts. Spires, turrets, giant arched doorways, you name it. A lot of things were closed, but we had so much fun just wandering.

I even got to drive for a little while. Those weird Brits, driving on the wrong side of the road...

We ended the night with classic fish and chips, a must on my food list. And it even turns out that I like mushy peas and should have ordered them over the regular kind...

Day three was our day of culture. First we went to THE West End (England's Broadway), and got tickets for a show later that evening. Then we tried to get a quick bite to eat, which turned into an hour wait for food that was underwhelming. To make ourselves feel better we explored the area and wandered a little into China Town. I loved seeing all the old, famous theaters and finding the one we would be entering in a few hours.

That's right, I'm not above the cliche.

Why hello there.

Our truest cultural experience was made possible by the suggestion of my Grandma Packard. She was born in England, and when I asked her what kinds of things I should do while I was there she told me that during Christmastime only they put on funny altered productions of fairy tales called pantomimes. So to the panto we went!

Juvenile, potty-humor, and very British. It was no masterful production, but I could just see my grandma as a little girl - sides splitting with laughter. And the funniest part? Grandma today would have HATED it.

They even had us dress up during intermission!

Soooooo...that's a man.

And then the crowning event: LES MISERABLE. I am always amazed at the pure beauty and talent of some people, and this was no exception.

After the play we took a quick drive around the city so we could see it at night one last time...

And that was it for London. Cheerio!

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