So. London. Here are three of the highlights:
Macbeth at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
Elena, Abby (a friend who is going to Oxford with me), and I got standing room tickets to a production of “the Scottish play” at the theatre in which it was first performed. Creepy, heartbreaking, bloody, and absolutely spellbinding, Macbeth tells the story of a man who is foretold to become king and seeks to make the prophecy come true. He succeeds—at the cost of his honor, his friendships, his marriage, and eventually his own life. The play featured Billy Boyd (of Lord of the Rings fame) as the unfortunate Banquo. When we left, my feet ached and I still had chills. I’ll remember that show.
The British Museum
We spent several hours at the British Museum and really only managed to see a handful of rooms. The place is gigantic, housing everything England has collected from its own country and across the world. I got to see delicately crafted shoulder clasps and helmets recovered from the Sutton Hoo Ship Burial, something I had only read about in British Literature classes. I got a glimpse at the Elgin Marbles, ancient sculptures stolen from the Parthenon. And I have to admit that when I saw the Rosetta Stone, I teared up a bit. I’m a sucker for history, alright?
London at Dusk
We spent a whole evening—well, several, really—wandering in downtown London as the sun set. We strolled along the waterfront, saw riveting street magicians and gymnasts, and ate dinner on the steps of a monument (inadvertently photobombing every subsequent tourist’s shot). We navigated the Tube and returned a little tired to our sketchy youth hostel each night. Part of the fun was in being there—not knowing exactly where we’d go each day, even if we had a plan. The past and present rub shoulders in London. Buildings older than the United States sit next to skate parks and graffiti; breakdancers perform on the pavement outside the National Gallery. The city feels old—war memorials on every corner, in every church—but the people are new. Hijabs and skinny jeans walk in the same direction, a man plays steel drums as a breeze snaps over the Thames. There’s no way to characterize London; I think it has to be experienced. It’s an assorted mix of juxtaposed time periods and cultures; I could never predict what I’d find around the next street corner.
The three of us absorbed London, as much as we could, for a week; then Elena went home to her real job, and Abby and I hopped on a bus to Oxford.