Friday, April 15, 2011
Changing of the Guard
Double Decker Bus, Telephone booth, and Ron Paul
Every tube stop, the voice over the loudspeaker tells you to alight for this or that at this stop. I really like that word, so I’m going to start using it more in these posts. So, I awoke and alit for I didn’t know what, but I had the ultimate goal of making it to the British Museum. I got off at a pretty random tube stop and decided to try to find my way to Buckingham Palace. When I got there, there was a really large crowd--I didn’t know why they were there, but I figured I would file into the crowd as well. After about fifteen minutes of standing and looking aimlessly about, I overheard someone talking about the changing of the guard, which apparently only happens once every other day at exactly 11:30. I had gotten to the palace at about 11:10. Ten minutes earlier and there might not have been a crowd to stop me.
The changing of the guard takes place in several stages, and if you don’t know what is going to happen, it can be kind of stressful. First the bugle and fife corps comes in--I thought that was going to be it, so I moved in to watch the action. As soon as I found a good place to stand in the crowd, the large band came down the street, which I missed because I was watching the first action that consisted of a flag-bearer and a man with a sword walking back and forth (pretty boring). Then on top of it, the horse-guards trotted by. Finally the elaborate ceremony started to happen for real. The band played a few songs, the guards changed and everyone marched out. It was pretty neat, but it looks like they were building a grandstand, which will be great, to perhaps watch it in the future (or maybe it’s for some wedding). Speaking of the wedding, you can already see preparations being made all around London. Flags are going up, flowers are being planted, it seems like it might be a big deal.
After the changing of the guard, I alit for the museum. I didn’t really know what was in the British museum, but I had a sneaking suspicion that the Rosetta Stone and the sarcophagus of King Tut might be there. Well, I was one for two. As soon as you walk into the Egyptian room, there’s a small crowd gathered around this big black thing about the size of my torso or so. It was incredible. The writing is so clear that it sort of makes you lose appreciation for the translators. In addition to the Rosetta Stone, there’s also this thing called the Parthenon which is there. Who knew? I thought it was in Greece. The entire frieze (another great word except that Yankee fans use it way too much) is housed in the British museum is a room shaped like the Parthenon. I’m thinking about doing something on this later. All in all the British museum is incredible, I think that I’m going to go back tomorrow.
After the museum, I made my way to a new hostel in Piccadilly Circus. This area of town reminds me a lot of Times Square, except much like the rest of London, it’s not as crowded or tight as New York. You don’t get the feeling of claustrophobia that you do in New York. I met one of my roommates, an Israeli who was only here for a night, and we decided to go grab some dinner and a beer. We found what seriously looks like the quintessential British pub. Like, if there were a bar that Cheers and every other tv show based in a bar in America was made, this would be the equivalent in England. Everybody looked British, they all spoke British, and the food was very British (you guessed it, fish ’n chips). We went back to the hostel and plotted our night, which consisted of a couple of clubs, where we met some Spanish girls who were very cute but spoke incredibly little English (why oh why don’t I remember any Spanish). We hung out with them most of the night as well as a few folks from our hostel who were from all over the world (New Zealand, Texas, and…Lesotho?). A good day. More to come.