Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ok, 28 minutes until time is up at the internet cafe.
We're in our last day in London, the first leg of the journey. Tomorrow we start the southern excursion for a few days, visiting places like Bath, Tintagel, Tintern Abbey, Salisbury, and Stonehenge, probably not in that order. London has been great. I've seen Midsummer Night's Dream, Les Mis, Pygmalion, King Lear, and Twelfth Night, my favorite was Les Mis, followed by MND. We get student discounts, and then discounts from the program for going to see plays, so some of these i saw for £5. It doesn't get much better.
We've taken day trip to Canterbury and Dover. Cantebury Cathedral was beautiful. We stood in the place where Thomas Beckett was murdered. It's strange to be in those places where other people have been. Standing by Elizabeth I's grave was kind of like that. You sort of can't believe it's her. It makes her existence much more real. Anyway, at Dover, we went to Dover Castle, and I stood on the top and looked at the sea for a long time. We went down to the beach and Dr. Ryken read "Dover Beach" to us, the very same one that is posted below. The beach is just like Penzance, so I felt pretty melancholy and missed it. I didn't expect to. I think I will try and visit before I go home.
Westminster Abbey I didn't like very much. It's less of a church than a cemetary. Most of the other students I talked to felt the same way. It's strange. The culture of the time seemed fixated on death, being remembered, etc. There were a lot of people there fighting each other to get the better view of the graves. Throughout this whole trip, I'm wondering what the good of all these museums are. It doesn't really do anything for anyone to see the place where Dickens is burried. I wonder if we all go because everyone else goes. I had similar and worse thoughts about the British Museum, which I will not get into here.
We visited Cambridge and got a fascinating tour of the different colleges led by a Christian theologian of the organization/school Christian Heritage. He talked about the reformation and the roots in Cambridge and effects on the later founded colleges and on the US. He was so warm and kind and wise. I would like to write more about this because he said some really insightful things and now I have a few books I need to read, including Francis Schaffer, who I had never heard of until that day.
I finally got a complete cream tea on Thursday from this little hole in the wall place that also sold hotdogs by the Tower of London. Got some great material for one of my travel essays.
We had another day trip to Rochester and Penshurst. We went in Rochester Castle-- that was cool. Penshurst has been one of my favorite places. The state rooms in the house were alright, but the gardens were beautiful. The best I've ever seen and the best over here. I think I like them more than the rose garden in Regent's Park. It's set up so you can only see one section at a time because of trees and hedges. There's a fountain with pink and white lily pads, so many roses, one garden with flowers arranged like a british flag, hedges you can walk through. My favorite section was closer to the house, with a path down the center lined with white rose trees(?) planted on a bed of some light green fuzzy leafish stuff, then there were pink rose bushes (?) further away on the sides. You could see a church in the distance. And it had just rained about a half hour before, so there were water drops on all the petals. It was absolutely beautiful.
One fun thing, that night, my friend Julie and I went to this place for sushi. We passed by outside and were riveted to see little bowls of sushi passing by on two conveyer belts, one going in each direction. We had to try it. The little dishes had all kinds of things in them, color coded by price. Ginger, wasabi, soy were built into the table as well as a tap for still and sprakling water and glass and small plate dispensers. We paid too much, but it was worth it to be able to sit there and watch the sushi make its rounds with the opportunity to grab anything we wanted right off the line and eat it. So much fun.
Yesterday we saw Twelfth Night in the open air theatre in Regent's Park. They had it 40's themed. I had never read it or seen it, but I enjoyed it. It was a little slow moving at first, but Dayna and I had a great time talking and racing to try and get tea and coffee at intermission with every other person in the theatre. We were cold, so we wanted some. We had a good time and it was fun to walk back to the hotel with everyone afterwards.
All the people are nice and I feel like I'm getting to know some of them pretty well.
I love being back with the food. Every morning we have the option of full English breakfast at the hotel. I've had a couple of coronation chicken sandwiches (chicken salad with curry), my favorite crisps, pastys, yogurt.
I have purchased another hour. I think I'm going to try and upload some pictures. We should arrive at Oxford on July 3, and more internet will follow after that. The phone situation is not good. From the hotel, it's not good and it's not even set up for international calling. The entire program (30 people) have been using one girl's cell phone to make all their calls because she has unlimited international calling.
I think that's all for now.

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