36. Diary Entry: London

On September 10th the excursion group left their accommodation at Parkwood in Canterbury shortly after 9 o’clock. Compared to the previous days this was rather late. But due to the late return from Eastbourne the day before everybody was happy about the chance to get more sleep. Driving in our coach it took us about two hours to get to London.

We got off the bus close to St. Paul’s Cathedral and formed small groups depending on the plans we had for the day. After supplying us with food for the day my group and I headed for the underground. There we bought day tickets, looked closely at the tube map and took a tube to Camden. Unfortunately the shops and markets in this quarter were not as impressive and interesting as some of us had hoped. Furthermore we noticed that our group was quite big which made it very difficult to walk around or make decisions. Therefor we split up the group; some students stayed in Camden but most of us went back to the underground. Instead of rushing though the city while trying to see every important building and tourist attraction we decided to go to Hyde Park to enjoy the good weather. The fact that we had stayed up very late almost all nights of the week surely contributed to this decision.

In the park we found a nice and quiet place to stay. We laid down in the grass as the sun shone to our faces. For a good amount of time we relaxed, listened to music, talked, got to know each other and fell into a doze. There were some squirrels in the trees looking for food. Successfully we tried to get close to them, stroke them and fed them. After a while a cute little black girl appeared whose family settled next to us. She was laughing a lot and started running around us being shy and curious at the same time. She then picked up fallen leaves from the ground. After giving them to each of us as little presents she quickly ran away again laughing heartily. Later she returned giving hugs and high fives to us and then took one after another by the hand, led us to her parents and advised us to sit down with them. When all the 10 of us were sitting with the family the little girl suddenly was very shy again. She had no idea what to do with us but found it incredibly funny having 10 strangers sit with her in the grass. It was a weird but amusing situation so we started chatting with the parents and later did some dancing with the little girl. We had a lot of fun and the family was very nice and polite. It seemed that this wasn’t the first time the little girl had done this and the parents were already used to situations like this. After some time we had to say good-bye as we wanted to do some sightseeing after all. So we packed our bags and headed south.

Shortly after leaving the park we arrived at Buckingham Palace. There we took a lot of photos and watched the changing of the guards. From there on we went towards the House of Parliament, passing by Westminster Abbey. Standing on one of the bridges we had a beautiful view on Big Ben, the Thames and the London Eye. While again taking pictures we could listen to a street musician. It was a bagpipe player in a quilt which was quite amusing.

Still having several hours left we decided to go to Harrods. Unfortunately we had forgotten to take a London map with us. Confused about which direction we had to walk to it took us a lot of time settle this problem. After lots of discussions and changes of plans we finally started walking back towards Buckingham Palace trying to find Harrods. The rising amount of exquisite, luxury and expensive shops indicated that we were on the right track. While the girls of the group stopped more and more often to take a look at the newest displayed purses, sunglasses or dresses by Channel, Vuitton or Dior the boys started walking faster and faster to pass these shops as soon as possible. When we reached Harrods some only some of us wanted to go inside. The rest of us stayed outside which wasn’t boring at all as here again they had the chance to listen to several street musicians. We spent quite some time at Harrods looking at all the foods, cloths, books, furniture and toys. That was very nice even though I had expected all the goods to be way more expensive than they actually were. Furthermore it was interesting to observe those customers who actually had the money to buy bags full of items and guess where they came from or why they were this rich. What took me completely by surprise was the art gallery at Harrods selling pictures and statues by Dali, Picasso or Warhol. I was honestly enthusiastic being able to take a look at those pieces of art. As the rest of the group was still waiting outside we unfortunately had to leave even though I could have spent several more hours there.

Meeting up with the others outside we wanted to take the underground to Abbey Road as the last plan for the time left and afterwards head back to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Arriving at the famous pedestrian crossing at Abbey Road where the Beatles had taken one of their album covers we were not alone. Several tourists tried to reconstruct this picture walking across the pedestrian crossing again and again and again. The people living in the area seemed to be used to that and the car drivers politely stopped each and every time. Nevertheless it was incredibly funny to watch those tourists and some of us to cross that road so often trying to get the right pose.

Having about one and a half hours left we set off to St. Paul’s Cathedral to get something to eat and meet the rest of the excursion group. We got there quite fast and a lot of the other students were already there so we all settled down together and ate our dinner. When the coach returned luckily all the students were there in time and we didn’t have to wait for anybody. We even got a good view on the Tower Bridge while leaving London. Arriving at Canterbury some time later we were all exhausted as it had been a long day but still we stayed up late, drank some beers together and made plans for the next day to go to the seaside again. At about 4 o’clock I finally went to bed to get some well-deserved sleep.