Saturday, July 24, 2010

Au revoir, Paris. Hello, London!

St. Paul’s Churchyard, London

Our week in Paris culminated with an eight hour Louvre visit. We saw the famous greats, lesser-known greats, and the generally boring. Ok, I know it’s sacrilege to call anything in the Louvre boring, but glass work just doesn’t blow my skirt up. The fancy floor vents do, and they beckon to the tired, the sore footed and the super sweaty like myself. We watched the sunset over the glass pyramid and had one last dinner by the Seine. I actually saw a real French woman wearing a beret. It was electric blue and set off her red hair, navy jacket and khaki pants. I have now seen it all. This morning after a brief hostage crisis with the hotel safe, which refused to cough up our Eurostar tickets, we crossed the channel with happy memories of Paris.

I find myself giddy with excitement each and every time I enter London. I hop on a tourist bus and see all the famous sights with first time visitors. As my knowledge of British history grows, my appreciation of this ancient powerhouse deepens. The Romans built a fishing village on the Thames and called it Londinium. A thousand years later, Edward the Confessor built Westminster Abbey in the quarter of London that has housed kings and parliament ever since. William the Bastard (that’s what they called him in Normandy) changed the course of history when he invaded Britain and established the Anglo-Norman culture we know today. They built the tower of London, established British legal code and introduced surnames to the Anglo Saxon population who had before gone by names like “Edward of London, son of Hengist.”

So why is all this history enough to make me giddy as a kipper? Perhaps it is because I am in the capitol of the English-speaking world. Maybe it’s because my ancestors walked these streets. (One of them was a stonecutter who worked on St. Paul’s Cathedral, where I now sit). Or possibly it’s because the UK is where I want to be. I feel like London is just up the street from home. And I’ve just had the best chai in my life.

Above: St. Paul's Cathedral, London. Below: the Eiffel tower at night, sunset at the Louvre

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