Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The London lunchbox

Goodbye to the days when finding peanut butter and jelly in my lunch box highlighted the noon hour. I stopped by King's Cross Station Monday over my midday break. Tuesday, I swapped lunch for a British Museum visit. And today, I grabbed a quick chicken and avocado sandwich in Trafalgar Square before class.

Nothing compares to seeing Big Ben's gleaming face for the first time. But, there's something fulfilling about seeing it for the 20th time, too (that's a guesstimate -- I'm not keeping track). Now, I run past it, wave hello and continue on my way. Ben's an old friend. I didn't wander aimlessly around the museum Tuesday, spending half my visit choosing a wing to visit. I entered the Great Court and took an immediate right. I needed to see the Enlightenment wing as part of the research for my architecture paper. In a near jog Monday, I sped to King's Cross Station to pick up train tickets for my weekend trip to Scotland. And when I met my flatmate in Trafalgar this afternoon, I knew exactly where to find my favorite sandwich shop. I'm still in awe, but I'm starting to feel at home, too.

After classes on Tuesday, a friend and I wandered through Covent Garden. Although a few of the trendy boutiques yanked us off the street, we went for one shop in particular: Whittard of Chelsea. The English tea shop can be found all over London, but the Covent Garden shop has a large upstairs with exotic flavors and a station to make a personalized tea blend. We both chose a coconut black tea. Drunk extra hot with a spoonful of sugar and a splash of milk sent me straight to the Caribbean.

Wednesday afternoon, my architecture professor took the class to see the Royal Banqueting Hall. Like nearly every building here, the hall is steeped in history. Apparently the rectangular hall, which would be used to greet distinguished guests, was originally meant to be filled with two rows of columns. But, James I turned down the design, saying that columns allowed killers the perfect place to hide. So, the columns were pushed into the wall, becoming pillasters -- an architectual element that resembles a column, but only half protrudes from the wall. After our tour, my class moved across the street to the Guard House and saw the mounted guards, red coats and all. Just a normal afternoon in London!

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