Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Paris, Outside the Louvre

As the train traveled over France towards Paris, I couldn't help but notice how picturesque the country side was.  When I got out of the metro and saw the city for the first time, my first thought was how amazing the architecture was!  The first picture here is in St. Pancras in London.  King's Cross actually does have a Platform 9 3/4 with a trolley halfway through the wall, but it was in an area of the station that is under construction, so I had to settle for a different 9 3/4.  While on the train I tried to get a picture of the beautiful sunrise, but it didn't quit turn out.  The third picture is the train station in Paris that I used, Gare du Nord:

One of the first buildings I saw was the Opera Garnier (pictures in a later post).  It was heart stopping, it was so incredible.  I literally stood there with my mouth hanging open for a while, positive I was in a dream.  When I walked up to the Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens, it was like a complete and sudden shock.  The only thing that was in my mind was "Oh....my....gosh...is this real?!?!?!?"
Here I the only two pictures I personally took inside the Louvre.  I was astounded by the ceilings, they were so ornate and amazing.  I'll post some more pics from the internet on the ceilings in my next post with all the paintings I loved from the Louvre.  I also took a picture of one of the halls of paintings I walked down, trying to let you see the vastness of just one little section of their collection.  I didn't believe people before when they said you needed more than a day to get through the Louvre.  Turns out....  I ended up breezing through quite a bit of the rooms, and even then there were entire wings of the museum that I didn't even enter!

Westminster, Buckingham Palace & Kensington

On Sunday I spent the day wandering from site to site until church started later in the afternoon.  I started off at the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben included of course:
I also got a video of Big Ben chiming for a few seconds:  Big Ben
Also across the river from Houses of Parliament was the London Eye and St. Thomas's hospital, which I don't think is famous for anything, but it looked cool.  Also right in between Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey was St. Margaret's Church, also a cool looking building.

Right next to that was Westminster Abbey.  The first two pictures are of the cathedral itself, and the third is another part of the Westminster Abbey, a school perhaps?  I really don't know.
After that I strolled through St. James Park and found a little place to get the Traditional Full English Breakfast.  I had heard so much beforehand about how I had to try it.  It ended up being pretty gross.  Well, the eggs and toast and mushrooms were good, but the blood sausage was vile, and I'm not a big bacon and sausage fan.  Unfortunately it was pretty expensive too.
After that I continued on my way to Buckingham Palace, where I saw some guards on horses!  And since I knew 20 pounds was too much to keep as a souvenir, I took a picture of the note, just because it looked so cool.
Finally I arrived at Buckingham Palace!
After that I crossed from Green Park into Hyde Park, through a cool arch in honor of Duke Wellington.  I went searching for Speaker's Corner, but when I found it I was disappointed to find that nothing was there, not even a soapbox. 
I then went on to get to Royal Albert Hall, making a pit stop by Harrod's.  I passed a cool building on the way, which turned out to be a hotel or something.  At Harrod's it wasn't open yet, so I took some pictures of the window displays instead.
After that I reached Royal Albert Hall.  Right across the road was also the Albert Memorial, which Queen Victoria built in addition to the music hall in honor of her husband after his death.  After seeing those, I continued through Kensington Garden to Kensington Palace.
After that it was time for afternoon tea!  On my way to tea, I passed another cool building which ended up being the Natural History Museum.  I didn't go in, but I've heard great things about it.  I took my afternoon tea at the Victoria and Albert Museum Cafe.  It ended up being more cafeteria style than a good afternoon tea, and there weren't any cucumber sandwiches, which saddened me deeply, but the tea was delicious anyway.  The museum looked lovely, but I didn't have time to look at anything because it was time for church right after that!
Church was good.  I was surprised at how big the singles ward was!  I was sad though that both of the speakers were actually American, since I wanted to hear the British accent so badly!  Relief Society was good for that though, since there were a lot of people who made comments during the lesson, so that was fun.  After church it was evening and I went back to the hostel to prepare for my trip to Paris the next day.  I felt that right as my time was ending in London was right when I was beginning to feel comfortable in the city, and feel like I knew how to do things right.  If I go to London again, I don't think I would want to go by myself.  I would definitely drink more tea, and I would try to take a day or two to go out to Bath, or somewhere else lovely in the country. 

Even though I didn't get too many glimpses of real British life in London, those that I did see were wonderful:  A father taking his toddler son out to breakfast, a family having tea together at a family trip to the museum, children playing soccer with their dads in the park.