Here's to Getting Lost at Every Opportunity
In the midst of job interviews, getting a place to live, and me getting ready to start school (so nervous!) we've been trying to do as much sightseeing as possible. We've had to be both creative and lucky while doing this...
creative: finding free or very inexpensive entertainment such as walking everywhere or drinking cheap beer on a double decker bus. The only downfall to this is very sore feet at the end of the day...
lucky: getting lost (usually on purpose) and discovering interesting landmarks or really cool stores and pubs
Today we had some errands to run and wound up getting off the train at the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square.
The whole area is buzzing with people who seem content to sit around talking, taking pictures, and feeding the pigeons. There are a LOT of pigeons there. There are also signs everywhere asking in 11 different languages (we counted) that people not feed them.
You can guess how well people obeyed. The green bag beside the people talking is full of bird feed - that he sell to tourists so they can feed the birds.
Today we saw a Chinese couple standing in a crowd of pigeons, pretending to be statues as the birds swarmed around, roosted on their arms, and ate out of their hands. Don't know about you, but I just couldn't see myself doing that... lots of pigeons means lots of pigeon poop.
It must be all of the food and attention that brings the pigeons there - everywhere else they go people chase them, yell at them, swing at them with brooms (and umbrellas), and try to run them over with their vehicles. They sense love (food) from the silly, camera-toting humans and hang around all day hoping that more love (food) comes their way.
Since it's free to get into the National Gallery, we wandered in and looked around for a couple of hours, not really knowing what to expect. Didn't realize we were about to see original paintings done by some of the most famous artists of all time. Neither of us are major art affectionados, but when you're in a room with a painting done by Rembrant, Monet, or Leonardo Da Vinci, you stop for a moment and give proper respect. I wanted to snap a couple of pictures (flash-free of course) but was worried about having my camera taken away.
Here are a couple of pics of the entrance - beautiful mosaic floors everywere, surrounded by huge columns and domed ceilings - it was very impressive looking.
Having no sympathy for our already tired feet, we wandered around in search for a good used bookstore, having heard that the Charing Cross area of London is the "book area". Since it was nearby it seemed a worthwhile side trip. I'm a voracious reader and will plow through a 300 page novel in one day if I'm not careful. When we moved here, I had to leave all by 6 books behind. I've read all 6 at least once since we arrived in London - a couple of them twice.
We found one bookstore. Said bookstore was very nice but had very high prices so I decided to look elsewhere, which didn't work out so well since we didn't see any other bookstores at all.
What we did discover was a pub that had been built in 1739, a series of incredibly old buildings that now house modern businesses (like Quiznos of all freakin things),
the Thames River, The Eye, and the Golden Jubilee footbridge (the original having been built in 1682).
here's why Jeremy and I are such a good couple:
"Do you remember the name of that bridge we saw today? Golden something?"
"All I remember is Jubilee"
Apparently all we have to do is remember half of what we saw - the other will fill in the rest of the details when necessary. Thanks honey!
After snapping a few pictures of the river, and cursing myself for leaving my good camera at home yet again, we made our way back to the Underground. Unfortunately, it was rush hour. Anybody who has been to London and experienced the Underground at rush hour will understand how miserable it can get on those trains. People mashed together with barely anything to hold onto, having to push your way (HARD) through crowds at your stop, yelling at the morons who walk through an entrance then stop dead in their tracks to consult with a map, effectively blocking the hundreds of others who need to get past them.
Then you have the creepy guys who stand way closer than necessary or stare at your boobs while you're stuck holding onto the bar above your head since the lower handholds are all taken up. Lots of fun. I don't care as much about the staring at the chest as people invading my personal space - i'd rather not get grabbed in the ass or have my wallet stolen.
We had two different people come up to us today and ask what train they needed to get on - this wouldn't usually bother me except for the giant maps of every train line's stops and destination on every wall of every station. It's pretty much impossible to get lost in London's Underground - I'll get pictures of the maps for another day just to prove this point.
We've decided to take it as a compliment: apparently we don't look like tourists.
About the hunt for a bookstore: I did finally find a few new books on sale at a store near the Notting Hill Gate station - ironically only a ten minute walk from home. At well, the hunt was worth it for sure.
So tonight we're relaxing, resting our legs, getting excited to move into our flat tomorrow (yay!) and me getting nervous about "real" teaching. I have no idea where I'll be working or what the school will be like, if the kids will be good or have "behaviour problems" or if I'll enjoy being "the Canadian Supply Teacher". I've been waiting for the opportunity to be a teacher for a long time and it's at the point now where I must prove myself. Let the kids know who's boss, help them to learn something, and have fun along the way... I guess I just need to remember to keep the things within my control under control and the rest of it will fall into place.
As long as I don't get lost on the way to school it will be all good.