Do you ever have one of those mornings where it feels like the universe is just telling you to stay at home? That was today.
At 9 am sharp, Professor Bell rounded us up and promptly directed us to the tube station. We eventually made it to Pret a Manger, but not before missing our train and losing over half of the group. We sat down and it hadn’t even been five minutes before it was announced that it would be a walking breakfast. We gathered our coffees, croissants, and breakfast sandwiches and headed out (ran) to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Amanda and I (Gabi) went inside the museum to give our presentation on The Great Exhibition and how the exhibitions of the nineteenth century were representative of the British Empire.
Following our presentation, we were guided through the museum’s India Gallery by Hillary Smith, a 74-year-old woman with the energy and enthusiasm of a young cocker spaniel (a quite impressive feat as many of us were still drowsy from our unfinished Pret run). Unfortunately, due to our debacle this morning, we were a bit pressed for time while at the museum and weren’t able to explore the entire collection, but from the architecture and the exhibits we saw, it appeared to be an excellent museum. (“This is my favorite place in London” “10/10 would recommend” “★★★★★”- Professor Bell)
After our tour of the Victoria and Albert Museum, we went to get lunch in South Kensington at a Polish restaurant called Daquise. The food was amazing, one student said, “the wild boar dumplings were to die for, bear with me ladies- it was the texture of sand, but the taste of heaven” – Rachael.
During this lunch, many of us were able to have delightful conversations- including one in which we discovered that Mean Girls is Prof Bell’s favorite movie. In addition, as mentioned before, we previously watched a movie titled Amazing Grace, which featured what we thought to be the Bromance of the Century, the Bromance that Stood the Test of Time, a Bromance for the Ages, between William Wilberforce and William Pitt the Younger. We now believe that we were mistaken, as clearly the bromance between Dr. John McAleer and Professor Bell rivals theirs.
After our lunch, we began to make our way back towards Trafalgar Square, where we were to meet our guides for the Gandhi Walking Tour of London. In order to do so, a trip on the London Underground was required, and during our descent, we witnessed Professor Bell being the most British person we know and offering to help someone cart their buggy down the stairs.
Following the terrible attack yesterday, London came together to show that they will not give in to fear and spirits will not not be broken. Countries across Europe, such as Germany and France, stood in solidarity with Britain. In Trafalgar Square there were drawings, messages of hope, and thoughtful messages for those who passed away. I (Gabi) noticed this drawing at Trafalgar Square and had to take a photo of it.
In the early afternoon, we began our Gandhi Walking Tour of London, during which Danny and Shaun (Sean? Shawn?) led us around the city while explaining the significance of London/the British Empire on Indian history.
Our guides were fantastic and the information was interesting, but in my (Amanda) personal opinion, there were a few big takeaways- first, that Professor Bell literally walks at least 2 mph (3.22 kph for all you Brits out there) faster than us at all times, and second, that there are literally NO TRASH CANS in London.
Another realization of the day related to our new favorite coffee chain, Pret a Manger and the city’s aversion to “rubbish bins” (as the locals call them). We stopped at two Prets today, one before our visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum, and one prior to our “Gandhi Walking Tour of London”-and unfortunately for us, in both cases, finished our drinks outside of the store, leaving us to desire rubbish bins. As we trekked through the streets of “Downtown London” (“No one calls it that”- Prof Bell), we noticed an abundance of Prets, in one case spotting two kitty-corner from each other (@TrafalgarSquare), and yet no trash cans. The majority of our group spent upwards of an hour holding empty coffee cups in their hands and traipsing through the city with slightly disgruntled looks on their faces. Our final calculations led us to believe that there are 4 Prets for every rubbish bin in London, so word to the wise: just don’t have trash.
(the four stages of getting Pret and then realizing there are no rubbish bins anywhere in London)
After we got back to The Stay Club, we ate pizza and fries (I guess people here think that we eat this). Later we watched a documentary titled I for India. We also got to see a very informative presentation by Meredith and Matt. We are excited to say that we have completed all the readings in our source book and we are excited to learn more about the current culture of Britain, as well as the history that shaped it!
-Gabi and Thingie (Amanda)