Saturday, May 7, 2011

1st Trip to London! and some Salsa

Yesterday morning was almost a disaster. All of us in the History of London class had to catch the 9:01am train to London for our field trip. I woke up at 7:30. Knowing that my alarm would go off at 7:40, I went back to sleep. And then I woke up at 8:40. My alarm had not gone off, and everyone else had left the house at 8:20, because the train station is a 30 minute walk away. I got my stuff together, got dressed, asked Stephanie for directions, and I started running in the general direction of the train station at around 8:46. I was in such a hurry that I only kind of heard the directions Stephanie gave me, so I got to the Oxford Castle and checked a map there. After that, it wasn't hard to find my way to the station, and I got there by 8:54, with 7 minutes to spare.

The rest of the day, thankfully, wasn't as exciting. Dr. Tyack led us on a tour of some sites of historic significance that almost every tourist misses. Today we covered the "City," the 1 square mile of London that was roughly what the Romans called Londinium and what has been the center of the city ever since then. I took pictures at almost every stop.

Our first stop was at the memorial to the Great Fire of 1666, which is this massive Romanesque pillar. There is a sort of laboratory inside, which my Physics tutor told me that they once used to test the validity of Newtonian mechanics. This makes sense, because it was designed by Christopher Wren, both an architect and a scientist.

After the Great Fire, much of the city was destroyed, along with the 100+ churches in the city. Christopher Wren, possibly England's most famous architect of all time, was put in charge of rebuilding 51 of those, including St. Paul's Cathedral. This is one of his lesser known churches. It is a very well preserved, typical parish church located in what is now the financial district.

This is Guildhall, where the guilds of 17th and 18th century would meet. It's on the site of the old Roman forum. The city was basically run out of the Guildhall for maybe more than a century. Much of the current building is restoration work that followed the German Blitz during World War II. If you look carefully, you can spot some Indian-style architecture in the front windows. That's because this building, not the first Guildhall, was designed around the late 1700s when the gem of the British Empire was India. They had just lost America, which Dr. Tyack thinks is why they wanted to remind themselves that they still had India.

These are the ruins of the city walls of the Roman city of Londinium. If you look carefully, you will see several types of brickwork. The stones at the bottom are Roman, from about 200 AD, and the others are where the walls were rebuilt a few times in much later times. These ruins were discovered after World War II, when much of the city landscape was changed.

This is a shot from the Priory Church of St. Bartholomew the Great. Founded in 1123, it is one of the oldest churches in London.

A more modern view of London.

I think this is the oldest timber building remaining in London. After the Great Fire, buildings were required to be built primarily of stone.

After the tour, a few of us stopped by Trafalgar Square on our way back to Paddington Station.

The Baker Street stop on the Tube.

Later that evening, I went to my salsa class for a second week. I stayed for all three classes: Improver's Salsa, Rueda I, and Rueda II. The Salsa class was good. Rueda was actually the highlight though. Unlike last time, this time I felt that I knew enough to participate. What I didn't know, I managed to fudge mostly successfully. I'm a little surprised that I survived Rueda Level II, never having done Rueda before. It's basically like a group version of Salsa, where you are constantly changing partners.

When I got back from salsa, a bunch of people were going out. I went out with them for a bit. We got to Kukui at around 11, got free entry, but it was totally empty. We met up with another group of Stanford people. A lot of them went into another club, but it started to rain, so a bunch of us just went back to the house. And that was my yesterday.

No comments:

Post a Comment