Sitting with the Royals

This morning I woke up exhausted, but forced myself to get out of bed and get ready in time to go down to breakfast before our class tour. I had another breakfast of eggs, sausage, fruit, and a glass of grapefruit juice and then went into the lobby to wait for the rest of my class. When my professor showed up he told me how last night he had actually stumbled upon my blog and I was a great writer- I don’t know how he found the blog, but either way it was nice to be recognized for my writing.

The tour of Royal Albert Hall was absolutely great! Our tour guide- who’s name suddenly escapes my memory- was so enthusiastic about everything and did a great job taking us through the hall and telling about the history while still entertaining us. We started on the main level of the hall where we walked around and saw pictures of all of the different people who have performed at the hall since its creation. One of the things that I found most interesting was the fact that the hall once hosted an indoor marathon that consisted of about 524 laps around an indoor track. I cannot imagine running just a regular marathon without getting bored, so I think I would die if I tried to do an indoor one (I mean I would probably die either way because I’m not in-shape enough to run a marathon, but that’s besides the point). After we finished going around the bottom floor we got to go and sit in one of the box seats. When the box seats were first sold- for a steal of one hundred pounds- you received them for nine hundred and some years, so basically forever. The boxes are now either passed down through families and rarely go on public sale, but recently one sold for about 1.4 million dollars, I believe.

We then got to look at the Queen’s box, which was where she came to one show per year. She is the only person who receives free tickets, so what she does is raffle them off amongst her staff for the shows. There are three rules for the Queen’s box: (1) no eating or drinking, (2) you must always be in black-tie attire, and (3) no dancing allowed. The third rule was broken only once by Nelson Mandela, but the Queen allowed it. After we left the box we were able to the Queen’s staircase that she used when she was visiting the theater and we were able to go into her waiting room and see were she sat. Our tour guide told us that we were not allowed to sit on any of the furniture in that room because “only royal bums allowed.” Over all the tour was fascinating and the facilities are absolutely incredible.

When I had finished the tour I went to head back to the hotel were I would meet Aunt Nik and Uncle Steve for lunch. They had landed in London a couple hours and we were going to grab lunch before they left on their train to Paris. I would be meeting them in Paris the following day after class. We just went to the diner that was down the street from the hotel. When I say diner though don’t imagine a typical Jersey diner. This was set up like an actual restaurant they just had a variety of food, were open twenty-four hours, and had all day breakfast, so they called themselves a diner. I ordered an Oreo milkshake and a club sandwich that was delicious, but incredibly filling so I ended up bringing half of it back to the hotel and I just planned on eating it later.

After lunch we went to Primark real fast so that Aunt Nik could pick up a new pair of sunglasses. She marveled at the prices as she was able to get a decent pair of sunglasses for only one pound- the wonders of Primark. We parted ways soon after so they could go catch their train and I could carry on with the rest of my day.

My plan was to go to the “cat café” called Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium where cats would wander around while people enjoyed their coffee and then go over to the Barbican and wander around the Museum of London until our concert, but that’s not exactly how the day ended up going. I got off the tube at the St. Paul’s Church stop so that I could go past the church because I hadn’t made it out that way yet. Afterwards, instead of heading to the bus stop, I went to Millennium Bridge (featured in the Harry Potter movies) and then ended up walking all the way down to Tower Bridge before finally crossing and taking a more direct route towards the café. When I looked it up to find directions, I also noticed that they only took reservations.

Since I did not have a reservation, I turned around and ended up going back to Workshop Coffee, a place I had visited once before since I arrived in London. One of the guys working there actually recognized me and asked me how long I would be in London and we talked for a while before he had other customers to whom he had to pay attention. I stayed at the café for a long time, just writing and finishing a couple of assignments for class. When it was about ten minutes to six I decided to head towards the Barbican and try to find dinner on the way.

I ended up stopping at a place called La, which was a Vietnamese home cooking restaurant. I ordered pork spring rolls with egg noodles and the meal also came with a side of salad (see- vegetables). The food was pretty good and I arrived at the Barbican at the perfect time. The performances for the night were absolutely incredible. We were seeing the London Symphony Orchestra with Simon Rattle conducting, which in and of itself was an amazing privilege. That evening’s programming included the world premiere of “Remembering: In memoriam Evan Scofield” by Mark-Anthony Turnage followed by Mahler’s Symphony No. 6. Despite being exhausted when they finished, I was awestruck.

I hurried back to the hotel to have a FaceTime meeting with Jarred- the youth director at my home church- to talk about my role with working with the youth and what direction we wanted to go. After we finished talking I had a list of things to do, but to do tomorrow considering I was about to pass out. I quickly showered and then was asleep before 11:30 PM, even before my roommate got back to the room.

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