Published: July 10th 2006July 9th 2006
**Sorry no pictures yet! I'll post some soon :)**
Wow, what a fun day!
I didn't go to bed last night until around 3:00 in the morning GMT and was woken up this morning at 7:30, so I am pretty tired now.....
But we woke up at 7:30 so we could get ready and make it to church downtown at 9:30. It was such a nice service with people from all over the world and tons of tourists, too.
Then we went over to Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park, and it was freaking awesome. It's this corner in the park where seriously whoever wants to can get up on a stool or on the fence or whatever and just preach. So there was a Muslim man talking about human rights, an existential guy whose sign said "Don't believe anyone, including me", a Christian man who was preaching about faith and repentance, and then people just gather around and heckle them and ask questions and it's hilarious and so much fun! it was fun to hear what the people had to say and what they believed in.
From there, we went to Convent Gardens to play and get lunch. Covent Gardens is a huge square with little street venders and tons of street performers and great little restaurants. We ate lunch at a little pub called the White Lion and immediately when we walked outside, there was a guy painted gold with a gold painted bicycle that was completely still! It was cool, but the fun was just beginning.... just beyond him was a guy on a pedistal painted all silver with a Roman uniform and no shirt on who was making absurd faces and gestures and would attack anyone who would get near him to give him money!! It was absolutely HILARIOUS! Little kids were all daring each other to go do it and they would all run up and he would pretend to attack him with his big sword and they would all run away... it was soo fun! Oh and he had this bloody cut off hand attached to his belt too haha. We stood and watched him for almost a half an hour because it was so entertaining. Then I went up and gave him some money and stood for a picture and he SMILED! It was sooo funny. He started making all these funny noises and hitting on me, then I got a picture with him and he slapped my butt with his sword! The whole crowd was dying, it was so funny! Then we all split up and walked around together shopping and watching more performers including a magician, some mimes, some African drummers and Asian flute players... it was amazing! My brother Roderick, though, had been being a big jerk ever since he woke up this morning because he was tired and hungry and he was being rude to EVERYONE, and after lunch when we were just barely starting to walk around the square, he had a temper tantrum about his feet hurting and Dad said that nobody cared, so Rod stormed off and his wife ran after him... We didn't see him the rest of the day haha.
Then from Covent Gardens we started walking to Westminster Abbey. We passed AMAZING architecture, double decker buses left and right, and lots of statues and memorials to people that I didn't know. We stopped in Trafalgar Square and snapped some photos in from of the fountian and the buildings, then walked on some more. While we were walking, we saw a crowd gathering and decided to stop and see what it was about. Then we got to see the changing of the horse guards (except, because of maintanace, they weren't on horses today) and learned a lot of great history about it. For instance, the guards are guarding the exit from Buckingham Palace that the queen usually comes out of, and in the middle of the changing, the guards had to all come out and stand in a line while a senior officer inspected them. They are inspected because when Queen Elizabeth I was ruling, one of the guards was drunk and she ordered that all guards be inspected twice a day. Well, four hundred years later the tradition lives on haha. Also, when Charles I was beheaded in that same plaza, it was at exactly 2:00 and so on the big clock the number two has a huge black mark covering it for all the people to remember, and again, four hundred years later, the clock (and the big black mark) remains. The British are so stalwart and set in their traditions and rituals, it's really funny. I swear the army hasn't changed uniforms for centuries (they still wear head dresses, for crying out loud!). The really are beautiful, but it's still kinda funny.
Then we walked on and saw Downing Street where the Tony Blair the Prime Minister lives (it's the equivalent to our American White House, even though it's just an apartment with gates in front of it, really).
THEN, we went to Westminster Abbey..... WOW!!! It was so completely amazing. Absolutely breathtaking! The architecture was so detailed and seriously stunning. We couldn't go in, because (ironically) the abbey is closed on Sundays, but we stood outside and got tons of pictures, which was fun. Some history about the abbey: It was built by Edward the Confessor and every king and queen since William the Conqueror in 1066 has been coronated in it. It's absolutely ginormous and the south side looks strikingly like the Salt Lake Temple, which might have significance, but I don't know. Just adjacent to the abbey is St. Margaret's Church where royalty all gets married, which is quite smaller and less stunning, but still beautiful.
Then we marched along and wlaked down by the Tames River for a while, looking at the new ferris wheel called the Eye of London that is easily 10 stories high, and watching all the tourist boats pass. Then we caught the tube down to Soho where Amy and I hung out yesterday to get some dinner and watch the final World Cup game. Needless to say, everywhere that had a TV was PACKED with soccer fans (all mostly rooting for Italy because everyone hates the French haha), so it took us quite a while to find a place. We finally crowded into this trendy little Japanese place that had amazing food and a secret big screen TV on the lower level, so it wasn't too crowded. Well, then we ate dinner and headed on home, leaving Dad and Amy to finish up the game. We took the tube home and got inside and got to see a spectacular fireworks show from our 8th story balcony celebrating Italy's win. So that's been my first day in London with my entire family! It was a blast, but I'm definitely tired from all the walking :)