We somehow managed to drag ourselves out of bed at 8:45 in the morning, which felt like 4 am in Eastern time so it was quite a feat. Warning – do not spill the Stay Club’s tea on yourself; it’s hot!! We started our morning taking a double decker bus to the Museum of London where we met up with our lovely tour guide, Dr. Janet Dickinson. We had our first discussion and we talked about the history of London, specifically between Wales, Scotland, and England. We also learned a lot about previous rulers and the Protestant faith, which played a major rule in the British identity. We also discussed the different writings and press of the time period and how they played a role in shaping the public’s opinion of the Empire.
After getting a quick lunch, we arrived at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. This was a gorgeous campus and the site of our first oral presentation of the week. After our grueling 12 minutes of public speaking about the Painted Hall, the Old Royal Naval College, and the role of the Royal Navy in the British Empire, we explored the site for the next couple of hours. Unfortunately, we could not see the beautiful Painted Hall, but we were able to see the southern banks of the Thames River, the Chapel, and the perfectly symmetrical campus. We found out that this is where a lot of movies set in the 19th century are filmed due to its perfect representation of the time period. The Chapel was interesting, as it looked very expensive and fancy, but many of the features are actually a lot cheaper. They cut corners by making 3D paintings that looked like elegant statutes and creating massive wooden columns that were painted to resemble marble. They had an American artist paint the mural in the Chapel.
From here, we traveled to the National Maritime Museum where we met with our second tour guide, John. At this point, we’ve essentially been on our feet for seven hours but we kept going as we toured the Atlantic Gallery, which discussed slavery, wars, and trade throughout the empire. We went into great detail about the creation and design of museums since John helped set up the exhibits there. He gave us the insights into the significance of the objects and why they were chosen, from the plastic fish to the invaluable relics. After the gallery, we explored the Nelson, Navy, and Nation Gallery, which was basically a massive shrine to London’s most famous war hero, Admiral Horatio Nelson. We even got to see his bloody socks and there was rumor that his toe nail clippings were also there. Despite Professor Bell dragging us around everywhere, he convinced us to walk up this massive hill, even bigger than Stamp Hill, in order to stand half in one hemisphere and half in another on the Prime Meridian. We valiantly charged up the hill to discover you had to pay 14 pounds to stand on a line. But, the view was pretty nice from the top, so it was worth the hike.
After walking 13,038 steps and 5.58 miles and taking lots of selfies, it was time for everyone’s favorite part of the day: free food. We debated endlessly during dinner on whether British ducks quack in a British accent or an American accent; we determined British probably sound like “quek.” There was also a massive debate on how to cook meat, medium rare or well done. Anyway, after a delicious French meal, we headed back to the Stay club for some much needed R&R to prepare for the next 8:45 am departure.
++John and Caitlyn