The British Empire (Well…sort of) Day 6

Sorry, everyone! I know that I’m starting to lag behind, but since the only place for me to get internet is in starbucks…and I don’t go to starbucks even in the states, it’s hard to force myself to walk in…

I digress…

My first day back in London from Surrey, I woke up not feeling to so well…quite uncomfortable really. So I googled the nearest clinic, rushed over, found that I had an infection (not cool), got my antibiotics all in about 30 minutes and then I was back on track for my sight seeing adventures.

I only mention this because 1. it wasn’t a big deal, don’t be alarmed and 2. I learned how the socialized health care system only works if you’re a resident…not a tourist. It wasn’t a big deal that I paid…but it did make me think back to that Michael Moore (who shall be known for the rest of this segment as MM) movie from a few years ago that enjoyed going on and on about our health care. MM told the story of an American who went to London to see Abbey Road. The American attempted walking only on his hands a crossed Abbey Road where he fell and severely dislocated (or broken, I can’t remember) his arm. He was rushed to the hospital where it was fixed and he did not have to pay a dime. Granted, I did not go to the Hospital (nor will I in order to test my hypothesis) but it does make one wonder….

Anyhoo, enough of my musings…onto my next sight: Westminster Abbey!

For those of you living under a rock, this is where Prince William and Kate Middleton tied the knot back in April. It was a sight to behold. Alas, it was forbidden to take photographs. šŸ˜¦ However! In typical Marisa fashion….I snapped a photo from near the entrance šŸ˜‰

I couldn’t take more, I’m sorry. The people there watch you like a hawk so I had to be very sneaky.

On another note, I did use my student ID to get in (yes, I know I graduated in ’09 and yes my ID expired last year). I had claimed to be a student while in Ireland and Scotland and they did not ask for ID, they just gave me the discount. When I got to Westminster, I decided to try my luck once again. This time the woman asked for my ID, which I had (but expired). She took a good look at it (obviously seeing it’s expiration) and then gave me the discount (SCORE!!!!!). Granted, it only saved me a couple of pounds (3 pounds actually which equals to about $4.50) but every time I’ve used it has helped šŸ™‚

I stayed at the Abbey for a while, looking at all of the tombs. I saw the tomb of Elizabeth I and Mary I as well as Mary Queen of Scots and Henry VII (father of craaaaazy Henry VIII). There was a monument to Shakespeare (he’s buried at Stratford-upon-Avon), as well as the tombs of Lewis Carroll, Henry James, Lord Byron and Lawrence Olivier. That’s just to name a few.

Oh yeah! Almost forgot! If you look at the above I took, the statue on the bottom left hand corner is the tomb of Sir Isaac Newton!

All in all, amazing. A. Ma. Zing.

At about a quarter to 3, I left and made my way to Buckingham Palace where I had a ticket to let me in at a quarter to 4.

Ever since Windsor, I’ve had a craving for more Cream Tea. I felt like a junkie looking for her next fix of sweet sconey goodness along with a delightful cup of tea. I thought, since I had an hour, that I would have time to pursue my fix but then I saw the line starting to enter the Palace. I figured I might as well get in line as well.

The Palace was obscenely beautiful. Again, I was not allowed to take photographs and with a warden of the Palace standing literally every two feet, I could not quite put my ninja skills to use in order to get you all pictures. šŸ˜¦

But things I did see: The Royal Faberge collection, the beautiful rooms and of course: the royal wedding dress! *sigh* Yes, I saw Kate’s dress, and earrings, and shoes, and bouquet and….the cake!!!!! mmmmmm cake……..

They also had a little video that explained how the dress was made as well as the meaning behind the minute details of the dress. I’m came away more impressed than before at how much care she took the designing the dress. As simple as it looks on the screen, the dress itself is an amazingly detailed work of art. One detail in particular: all of the lace had different flowers each with their own special meaning according to the language of flowers (which Kate is apparently fluent in). However, the three that was repeated the most were: The Rose (for England), The Thistle (for Scotland) and The Shamrock (for Ireland). Clever, no?

I went through the Palace with my little audio guide learning the details and importance of each room until we reached the garden:

It rained. That’s the back of the Palace by the way, along with it’s nice little cafe. I thought about getting my Cream Tea there, but then I realized that it would probably cost waaaaaay more than the 3 pound 20 I paid for in Windsor.

As I walked through the garden (towards the exit), I took more photos:

I made it out and found, around the corner, a little tea shop….they must sell cream tea.

Apparently, they sold “afternoon tea,” it was crap and in the end I paid almost 8 pounds! Not cool! Afternoon tea is not the same as cream tea. Afternoon tea consists of tea (obviously) several sweets and finger sandwiches while cream tea is just tea, scones, clotted cream and jam. I wanted the latter….the women at this shop sold the latter but called it afternoon tea. Oh and the cream…I could have sworn it was just miracle whip (ugh!). It was a great disappointment and thus my craving was not abated. The search was then ever continuing for better cream tea.

On my way back to the flat, I stopped by a little kitchen shop. I had wanted to buy Fia a little gift. A way to say “thank you for letting me crash for a week and half.” I know we’re practically family and that I would do the same for her in a heartbeat, but that doesn’t make me any less gracious. She had talked about how hectic her schedule was and how easy it was to just order take out and not cook. I had ranted and raved about my favorite piece of cooking equipment: my tagine. A tagine is essentially a Moroccan slow cooker. I love it; I have made some great dishes with that thing. I have a cookbook that has some very complex recipes; however, I have also simply put sauce, meat, veggies, stick it in the oven for an hour and presto! quick and healthy dinner.

Fia was intrigued. She thought about investing in one….I took it a step further: I decided to buy it for her. So back to the kitchen shop (which was a crossed the street from the flat). I wasn’t sure if I would find it. I was literally about to walk out when I found it! It was a lovely little piece that was unpainted and slightly glazed. Yay! I quickly grabbed it, wrapped it, bought it and took it home to surprise Fia for when she got home from work.

She was šŸ™‚

On Wednesday I plan on cooking for her and Lucy to show her how easy it is to cook with and to again say thank you.

Shortly after Fia’s surprise, I took the train back to Kilburn to meet up with Lucy for dinner. Lu took me to a lovely little Afghan restaurant that smelled divine. Needless to say, I ate waaaaaaaaay to much. Well, according to everyone else, I hardly ate. But for me, it was a couple bites too many, but sooooooo worth it! It was quite interesting having to literally waddle (not walk) myself back to the train station in order to head back to West Hampstead.

I did feel a little sick from overeating but I would go back there in a heartbeat!

Until tomorrow: The Tower of London!



Location:Tea, St. Paul’s Courtyard, London, England, U.K.

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