Big Ben and Parliament
We started and ended our tour in London. We were there for Guy Fawkes night – which meant that we got to check out some fun carnival rides, and generally revel in merriment on our first night there. Ryan and I rode the scrambler … and we laughed a lot. It was probably just as fun as I remembered it. And maybe more fun ’cause I got to be out on a date with Ryan in London. :) Being out on a silly fun date with a guy you really really like … it makes up for all those times you saw the other girls with dates and you didn’t have one.
Friday was Guy Fawkes night, but it was pretty rainy and miserable, so we decided not to go see the big fireworks. It turned out that it probably didn’t matter anyway, ’cause they started fireworks all over the city while we were still trying to decide, and we tried to count how many we could see from our hotel room window.
When we finally got it together, we decided to head down to the Covent Garden area for some pub grub – exactly the kind of filling comfort food that we can’t find anywhere in Italy. I was constantly being pulled between fish & chips and various types of pot pie … mmmm.
We checked out Westminster Abbey (scene of the upcoming royal wedding). Which, aside from being an amazing cathedral complete with baptistry and cloister annexes … had a whole lot of British culutural history to teach about. There was poets’ corner – with stones dedicated to famous British writers and poets. There was a stone shrine to Isaac Newton (It wasn’t clear to me if these people were buried there or not). and an unknown soldier memorial.
And there was a pretty crazy story of Oliver Cromwell. From Wikipedia: Oliver Cromwell’s body was exhumed from Westminster Abbey, and was subjected to the ritual of a posthumous execution,… (The body of Cromwell’s daughter was allowed to remain buried in the Abbey.) His body was hanged in chains at Tyburn. Finally, his disinterred body was thrown into a pit, while his severed head was displayed on a pole outside Westminster Hall until 1685.
The next stop was a Tour of Parliament – (which is actually the building big ben is on). It turned out that the really interesting part of that tour, was learning about modern day British Democracy. It’s not as democratic as I would have expected. (and that ignores the queen thing altogether.)
There are two houses in Parliament: The House of Lords, and the House of Commons. They each have half the building, and they are decorated in a way that matches their names – The House of Commons is green, and plain, and the House of Lords is red and ornately decorated. The House of Commons is relatively democratic … but the House of Lords … as far as I can tell, is pretty much made up of famous people, and rich people.
Parliament also has a big Lobby – where both sides come together, and people can lobby them.
We also heard more about Guy Fawkes … and why people are alwayas burning effigies of him.
Dinner that night was at a Scottish Seafood restaurant back in the Covent Gardens area, and then we went to see Jersey Boys, which I really enjoyed. I knew a lot more of their songs than I thought I would. I enjoyed the way they used the songs to also tell the story of what was happening with the group (Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons) and I loved the way the musical ended with lots more singing. I left happy & that’s part of why I love Musicals so much – they have such a fun happy atmosphere!