We may be tired, we may be jet lagged, and some of us can’t feel our legs; but we are here! Our flight went smoothly, thanks to large doses of melatonin and Zzzquil. After landing, Professor Bell somehow managed the impossible task of dragging 16 sleep deprived students through the London Underground to our destination at the Stay Club. From there, we began our first day in London. Keeping up with him was just part of the many challenges we faced today. One of which was taking showers with showerheads directly over our toilets.
Our journey began with us taking the London Underground (or the Tube as locals call it) to London’s Financial District, to the famous Sky Garden where we were treated to incredible, panoramic views of London. We then met our tour guide of the day, Kim Dewdney, who had both an incredible wealth of knowledge about imperial London, as well as a great sense of humor. On our tour, we learned about several of London’s historical monuments, such as THE Monument, which was built in commemoration of the lives of those lost during the Great Fire of London in 1666 where 85% of the wooden city burned to the ground. From then on, buildings were made with the traditional stone, tile and brick that we see in London today. We also learned how each section of the city was divided up alongside the river Thames, which was the reason London became the economic powerhouse that it is. The addition of railways only increased the amount of people working and living in the city.
We then went on to view the monument dedicated to Eleanor of Castile, who’s husband (Edward the First) was so devastated when she died, that during the transportation of her body, he erected monuments to each place where it stopped, and 3 of them still stand today. We then walked to Trafalgar Square, which contains a huge memorial to Admiral Lord Nelson, a British hero in the Napoleonic Wars who died fighting for his country. As Kim told us today, it seems to be a recurring theme in British culture that they commemorate heroes who were victorious, but even more so, heroes who died for their country whether they were victorious or not. Ironically, this square also contains a statue of George Washington, dating back to the pre-Revolutionary war era when he was a British hero in the French and Indian War. She then brought us to the Crimean War memorial, where we learned the true story of Florence Nightingale, who was not just a nurse, but a brilliant mathematician who changed the way the British warfront hospitals were designed and run.
Kim did an incredible job of keeping 16 students who were clearly exhausted engaged and interested in the bustling city around them. We continued our journey to the River Thames, taking a public transportation vessel to view the sights along the Thames such as the London Eye, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. By this point in the day, we were dropping like flies. Many of us took any opportunity to nap whether it be on the Tube, or on the boat, we were exhausted. Our legs were sore, our bodies confused and we then walked to Brick Lane where we had an incredible and authentic Indian meal. This meal was well deserved after the day we had.
We walked 17,280 steps(or 6.7 miles) while jet lagged. We accomplished a lot, and are extremely excited for the adventures ahead, but right now, all of us are extremely to get some well deserved to sleep.
-Sophia and Taylor