Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Riding the tube...

Riding the Tube to work is not for the weak of heart.

You arrive on the platform with a poster of George Clooney staring back at you. A daydream of your blissful marriage together runs through your mind when a gush of wind dishevels your hair that was perfect 10 minutes ago when you glanced in the mirror before you popped out the door. The other Londoners on the platform shift subtly. They may look unruffled and engrossed in their Metros but really they are preparing for battle

As the tube speeds into the station, three things run through your mind.
1. Which carriage is the least crowded
2. Which carriage has the cutest boys
3. Which carriage will you be most likely to find an abandoned Metro laying around in.

With all these thoughts running through your head, plus the quick prayer ever since the terror alert was raised to severe, you shove your way onto the train, holding onto your purse for dear life. The doors close, and you are on your way to work.

When thought one is complete, and the train is safely moving, you can move on to processing the other two thoughts. After a cursory glance around; you will usually see at least one decent guy and 10 Metros. However, since you are squeezed in the tube near a pregnant lady and a Henry Higgins wannabe, the chances of coming into contact with either is quite small.

However, by the fourth stop it tends to clear up a little, and you can grab a Metro, usually left by the Jude Law look alike as he leaves the train. By the time you get to the story about the second ever pregnant man, its time to switch trains. You race up the stairs and across the station to the much less crowded Northern line, where 9/10 times there will be a seat waiting for you which is a welcome relief if you have idiotically decided to wear heels that day to work. You settle down with your Metro and continue on to the Mornington Crescent tube station.

When you arrive you spritely mind the gap and take the 66 (yes, there is a sign telling you how many) steps up to ground level. You grasp your oyster card for dear life, and swipe out of the station, deftly avoiding the people handing out flyers, magazines, etc. After that it's just a hop, skit and a jump across the street into the office.

Then, eight hours later, the routine begins again. There is jostling, it is smelly; the only noticeable difference is that the Metro has been replaced by the Evening Standard.

Once arriving back at Earls Court you have one more challenge: avoiding both the adjoining bakery and the Kabob place down the street.

Like I said, riding the tube is not for the weak of heart.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

England vs. the United States


Having been here a week, I am finding myself assimilating to London culture quite well. However, I still am not quite used to saying mobile instead of cell phone, and telling people to "touch wood," instead of "knock on wood," when they say something possibly jinxing. And I am getting much better at not imitating a British accent back at people when they say something to me, though I doubt that I am ever completely cured of that.

Since I don't start work until next week, I have had two fantastic days of sight seeing a relaxing. Yesterday, I went to see Avenue Q in the West End, which featured puppet nudity (yes, puppet nudity) and hilarious songs including "Everyone's a little bit racist," and "The Internet is for Porn." But what I did during the day yesterday far eclipsed my dirty Sesame Street experience.

I died and went to heaven. In this case, heaven was Harrods, the world renowned department store. It was all I could do to keep my chin off the floor while walking room to room and seeing the magnificent offerings of the store. Though all I bought was a sandwich and two cupcakes, I plan to return.

Today a few of us walked through Kensington Gardens, which has joined Big Ben, Westminister Abbey, and the Tower of London on my must see London list. It is so incredibly beautiful and I finally got to see the Peter Pan statue that I've always wanted to see. There was also a plethora of birds, and even a "Bird Lady," who held pigeons in her arms while birds swarmed her feet. Did we sing "Feed the Birds," from Mary Poppins? How could we not.

Our flat is in such a great location that we have been able to walk to most of these great locations. This has unfortunately given me a false confidence in my fitness, and I succumbed to pastries in the window 3 times today. I can only imagine what Paris will do to my waistline.

Tomorrow we head to Bath and Stonehenge, and so we are skipping the pub tonight since we have to be on our way at 7:45 am.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010


It has now been a week since I departed from the states, though it seems infinitely longer, as it feels like I have done a million things. In reality, I have barely scratched the surface of what London and Europe have to offer, and everyday brings new and exciting things to my life across the pond.

Here's a recap of what I've been up to:

1. Visited the Tower of London. As a self-described British history buff, especially regarding the monarchy, I was in nerd heaven. It takes an odd duck to get excited about seeing the Tower Green where Anne Boleyn was beheaded, but I was like an intoxicated MU student presented with a hot box of pokey sticks. That coupled with the crown jewels and the place where they found the bodies of the two princes in the tower and I was in history heaven.
2. Went to a London club, Zoo Bar. It might have been the 5-month-old American music, or the fact that I did my "Single Ladies" dance, but it didn't seem much different than what I'm used to in the states.
3. Partook in a Panoramic Bus Tour of London, where our guide Colin shared with us the many sights of London Town. All it did was make me feel that 3 1/2 months is going to be nowhere near enough time for me to see everything I need to see. Highlights of this tour included: Buckingham Palace, the West End, and the bank where they shoot the inside scenes of Gringotts bank for Harry Potter.
4. Possibly the most awe-inspiring experience I have ever had was attending a service last Sunday morning at Westminister Abbey. For a thousand years people have worshiped there including Charles Darwin and Sir Isaac Newton. I highly recommend going even if you aren't Episcopalian (Anglican), if simply to sample the architecture and hear the choir's voices soaring up among the rafters to the organ music.
5. At the bequest of my dear friend Miss Megan Ogar, I climbed to the top of Primrose Hill which offers not only the best view in London, but is featured in the animated classic "101 Dalmatians," when Pongo and Perdita are performing the twilight bark to alert the dogs of England of their missing puppies fate.
6. I attended the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. A hint if you ever intend to do this: Arrive early, and don't be afraid to use every single pushy, aggressive, obnoxious American stereotype to get pictures of the event. I wasn't afraid or ashamed, and I was victorious.

As you can see, I have been very busy seeing all the sights in my new home. However, yesterday I started classes and next week I will begin my internship, which will hinder my explorations a bit, though I am determined to keep sightseeing during the week. My classes seem very interesting; my professor for my British culture class even took us to the Victoria and Albert museum on the first day of class!

On Friday we are taking our first field trip to Bath and Stonehenge, and further in the future lies something even more exciting. A Harry Potter walking tour. Am I excited? Was that a rhetorical question? Will I finally get to push a cart through platforms 9 and 10? Stay tuned for further installments; I'm off to make a cup of tea.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Mind the Gap!

Hello from London!

After 2 days I am starting to feel more comfortable around London. It is such a fabulous city, and I love it already, though I have barely seen anything it has to offer.

After surviving the plane ride, I got my first taste of a British cabbie, cockney accent and all. He taught us many helpful things, including how to spot a legit cab and that the trunk of the car is called the boot.

All of the Londoners were in a tizzy when we arrived because of the snowfall, which maybe amounted to 3 inches. This is not a winter country, and apparently the day before the city had come to a stand still, with all of the public transportation ceasing to run. For a girl from Missouri, this seemed a little extreme, though the city is beautiful with the snowfall.

My flat looks like the house from "The Parent Trap," back when Lindsay Lohan flashed an innocent smile rather than her undergarments. It was built in the 1800s, and though quarters are cramped, it is all part of the experience.

Even though I have been here for 2 days, I only just felt tonight that I was really in London. Before then I had just traveled to my flat and stayed in the area attending orientations and whatnot. However, tonight a group of us went to Westminister Bridge, which is right by Big Ben, the London Eye, and Westminister Abbey. As we walked out of the tube station, Big Ben rose above us to our right. It was the most surreal experience, I still don't quite know if it was real or not. We walked along the Thames (which is pronounced Tems, I thought it was pronounced like it looks until Senior Year in Dr. Coopers class when we read "Heart of Darkness." Joseph Conrad is one British aspect I will not be seeking out in my time here)

Tomorrow my flatmate Emily and I are visiting the Tower of London, which I am beyond excited about. Then we have another orientation, a welcome dinner, and then Flat 2 is going out on the town to finally celebrate being in London.

Oh, and if anyone is interested, my internship post is at a magazine called Professional Beauty, which is the beauty industry's leading magazine in Britain. I will be working with the editorial department and also with event planning. I can't wait to get started working and get on a normal schedule; hopefully that will stop me from feeling like such a tourist.



Monday, January 11, 2010

Harry Potter, Jane Austen, and King Henry VIII

As I sit here, the day before I embark on what I hope will be the greatest semester of my life, I find that I have so many thoughts and hopes for the trip I am about to take. Here, in no particular order, are some of my more lofty goals for my trip:

1. Convince a British person that I too, am British.
2. Find a cast member from the Harry Potter movies and be photographed with them.
3. Visit locations from my favorite movies including, but not limited to: Primrose Park (sight of the Twilight Bark in "101 Dalmatians," The Peter Pan statue from "Hook" the Millenium Bridge from "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Hugh Grant's door from "Notting Hill" and many more.*
4. Attend High Tea at Harrods.
5. Be able to successfully navigate my way through Harrods by April.
6. Try all new foods at least once, including spotted dick
7. Visit the Tower of London and see where Anne Boleyn's eyes kept moving after they chopped off her head. I owe her that much as a faithful Episcopalian.
8. Get a successful picture of myself and three other friends crossing Abbey Road without being injured by traffic.
9. Go into a phone booth and ask to be transported to the Ministry of Magic
10. Meet a Duke. Make said Duke fall in love with me. Marry Duke. Become Duchess Allison.

All in all I believe my goals are quite attainable.

I have fit everything into my suitcases, including all of my shoes. It is truly a miracle. I can't believe I am actually going to be in London in 32 hours. It's not real life.



*If I get the chance to visit Austria, I will of course be taking the Sound of Music tour, as well as singing loudly on top of that one hill.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Nine days and counting

Though I am morally against blogging as it is slowly taking away my livelihood, it is, unfortunately, the best way to keep people back in the states informed of my adventures in London Town. I will try to stay faithful to this blog and upload countless pictures and anecdotes of all of the neat things I'm going to do.

I will be leaving St. Louis at 1pm on Tuesday, January 12, have a short layover in Chicago and leave from there at 5, eventually arriving in London at 6:30am, ready and rearing to take a Double Decker bus tour around the city.

This next week will be filled with goodbyes, as well as Mexican food and peanut butter (I hear they don't have these things in London). I also have a British Movie Marathon Planned, including all Harry Potters, Jane Austen movies, and countless others. It will also be filled with the biggest struggle facing me while preparing for this trip: which shoes to leave behind. In the words of Terri Shuester, it will be my very own Sophie's Choice.

Cheers! (That's what London people say)