Seeing London-checklist style
Our first day of the trip was a free day in London, where the group split up to do some site seeing. It was in part designed to get acclimated to the city and adjust to the new time zone, however, as it turns out we didn’t end up doing much R&R, instead we hit the pavement pretty hard. London is probably the most storied and significant city in the English speaking world, so there was a lot folks wanted to do. The day was spent doing what I call ‘checklist tourism’ where you just try to see as many important sites as possible, not taking too long at any one. We were pretty successful at this, walking from the far side of Hyde Park, through the park, all the way to the far side of the Thames and back. In the day we got to see:
- Kensington Gardens and Kensington Palace (now occupied by the Prince William, Princess Kate and Prince George).
- A marching band come through Hyde Park.
- The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.
- Westminster Abbey.
- The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.
- Covent Gardens (a shopping district with street performers).
- A recreation of the Globe Theater (where Shakespeare spent his career).
- Abbey Road Studio.
- Speakers Corner in Hyde Park.
- The Marble Arch.
My favorite part was probably getting to see Abbey Road studio, as I am a big Beatles fan. Even on a dreary Tuesday afternoon there was a crowd of people that fluctuated from anywhere from a dozen to two dozen people, most trying to recreate the famous album cover picture. However, the road is actually fairly busy, and many motorists don’t take too kindly to constant pedestrian traffic. We witnessed one truck who decided to stop for a while and keep waving people through for their pictures. Cars were stopped behind him as far as the eye could see, generating a constant chorus of honks and other…noises to indicate their frustration. After a few minutes, another driver actually got out of his car, slammed on the side window of the truck and cursed out the driver, he received a select hand gesture in return. After another minute or so, cars started bypassing him by driving into the wrong lane, after a few of those the truck driver eventually moved on. Over the course of the half hour we hung around there was a constant battle between fans and motorists. I thought about how interesting it was that this human drama is constantly playing out, all fueled by the popularity of a music group that stopped releasing albums over 40 years ago. And if I witnessed all that on a rainy, cold Tuesday, I can only imagine what it looks like on a nice weekend afternoon.