What a week! I got back from London yesterday to lots of sick flatmates and all the homework I procrastinated/didn't do all weekend. I'm fighting this obnoxious cold (hopefully it's almost over) so I fit right in with the rest of my flatmates and didn't need to quarantine myself. This week has been so busy!
Thursday was the Robin Hood Beer Festival. It was AWESOME. It was at the Nottingham Castle grounds, and there were over 1100 ales and over 200 ciders! I walked into the tent and it was literally like walking into heaven. So much beer! With the ticket, you get a cool glass mug (I didn't break it! That's right! Didn't break it!) and 14 tokens—2 tokens buys a third of most beers/ciders, and 3 tokens buys a half pint of most beers/ciders. I tried so many I couldn't remember them even if I really tried. I also discovered that while you have to pay tokens for a third/half, you don't have to pay anything for samples…and I think we all know how I feel about free samples… So I had quite a bit for free!
Since we were inside the Nottingham Castle gates, my friend Eric and I were able to go wander around outside the castle for a bit. Nottingham Castle has one of the most beautiful views of all Nottingham! It was a wonderful surprise. Our fellow Luther Nott, Kula, met up with us there and we had a great time. It was open until 11:30pm, but we were all pretty tired so we left around 8:00pm or so. All in all, my first beer festival was a major success!
|The view from Nottingham Castle!|
I left for London on Friday, with my train buddy Sarah (who was headed to Stanstead Airport to go to Sicily). Friday night I got milkshakes at an American diner in Camden Town, and then Saturday morning I headed out to the National Portrait Gallery's new exhibit, called Elizabeth I & Her People.
They basically should have called it Maja & Her People. It was a fantastic exhibit!!! They had so many great portraits of Elizabeth I, and a lot of portraits of her famous courtiers. One of my favorite Elizabeth ones was the portrait missing from Hardwick Hall when I went there—it was huge and the frame was beautiful. So glad I finally got to see it!
|This is the Elizabeth I portrait! Isn't it a beauty?! Definitely worth the wait.|
It was great to be in a room filled with my people. My friend Peter, who kindly let me sleep on his floor in his flat, met me after I finished my exhibit and I gave him my National Portrait Gallery Tour. He said it was better than my Tower of London Tour!!!!! We got sausages for lunch from a vendor which were amazing, and then he headed back to his flat to write a paper while I set off for the British Library to finish my research.
I'll probs be writing a super nerdy blog post about my research soon, so I won't talk about it now. But I will say definitively that my trips to the British Library were not in vain, and I was able to get my books and finally find out the truth about one of history's mysteries that has captivated me for years :)
On Saturday night, Peter's flatmate, Caleb, and his family (visiting from the great MPLS) invited Peter and his flatmates (and me by extension) out to dinner. It was very nice of them and it was great to hear some local news from Minnesota. Saturday night Peter and I had plans to go out and go pubbing, but we were too exhausted. So I made him get ice cream and we had that and then I went to bed at 10:30pm because I was exhausted. Obviously a rockin' Saturday night in London.
Sunday morning Peter and I went to the (free) church service at Westminster Abbey! It was simply amazing. I'm not the most church-ish person ever, and obviously Anglican services are different from Lutheran (and Lutheran is different from my Holy Trinity services, which is what I'm used to), but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Just being back in Westminster Abbey was so surreal!!! We were able to sit in the choir stalls (!!!) and that was fantastic. Unfortunately, we couldn't wander around the Abbey or really see anything besides the nave and altar. But! The service was on Edward the Confessor (king of England from 1042-1066), and after the service was over we were able to go see the Shrine of Edward the Confessor! It was unbelievable. I was sitting in a chair crying and a very nice man came up, put his hand on my shoulder, and said 'stay strong.' He asked if I was of the bloodline of Edward the Confessor (obviously I'm not…I'm just crazy…), and then he told me that there are still direct blood descendents alive today. I was totally shocked (I mean this guy lived a THOUSAND fucking years ago), and then he pointed out a man who had brought flowers to the shrine, who was a descendent of the bloodline. I just sat there and stared. It was unbelievable. So much history! It's just so crazy to think that ancestors of this great medieval king are still alive today.
When I was walking around the shrine, I paused and looked back through a grate to the Henry VII Chapel, and to the room where Elizabeth I was buried. This rude church guy pointed at the shrine and said 'we're not here for that, we're here for this.' Like sorry for looking in the wrong spot… as Mulan's grandma would say, who spit in his bean curd? (Makoto, I hope you read this one just so that someone will laugh at my Mulan references.)
|Church buddies from First Communion to Westminster Abbey!|
Peter ditched me after Westminster Abbey, and I went to the Banqueting House (finished by Charles I, and later the location of his execution in 1649) mainly because it was free with my Historic Royal Palaces membership. The ceiling is made up of 9 panels by Ruben, which was beautiful even though I hate art. Then I walked across the city and went back to the Tower of London! Did you know there were places in the Tower of London I hadn't been yet?!? Neither did I!!! Rectified that situation immediately. Since it was raining, the Yeoman Warders tours were shortened (only 20 minutes instead of an hour) and took place in the Chapel. But I hit up all the highlights! I also (FINALLY) found the staircase where they found the bones of the Princes in the Tower in 1674, right in the White Tower. That was cool.
|Under the stairs where they found the Princes in the Tower|
After that, it was back to Peter's flat, resting period, dinner, ice cream, watching Peter and his flatmates play computer games/work on their papers, and then earning my keep by doing the dishes and unclogging the hair from the shower drain (apparently it hadn't been done since they got there… two months ago…) Monday I walked to a couple places in the area (Lincoln's Inn, where Thomas More trained as a lawyer, in particular) and then headed back to St. Pancras to catch my train back to Notts.
I couldn't have asked for a better weekend! (Besides the rain.) This weekend, more than ever, I really felt independent. Walking everywhere is exhausting and takes more time than jumping on the tube, but you really get a feel for the city. Somehow, London doesn't seem as big now. Knowing that I can get basically across the entire city on my own without getting lost has really changed my perception of the city. When I was in London two years ago, I left thinking I'd never really like it there, since it's too big and too crowded and there's too many people. (I hate people.) But after feeling so invincible and confident walking everywhere, I think I would be really happy in London. I really think I'll live there someday. Before I never really could see myself living in London, but after this weekend I do see myself living there. Someday. I was stopped multiple times by other people asking directions, but more importantly, I have learned how to j-walk like a Londoner with confidence and not get hit by cars!
Okay! Now it's time to try to catch up on all the homework I didn't do this weekend!