February 10, 2006


Filed under: Travels — Alex Ravenel @ 9:02 pm

Moving on to London… I got back from London late Monday night, catching the last S-Bahn train from the airport to a tiny town called Leinfelden, where I then caught a night bus back into Tübingen.

This will be a pretty short post–mainly because there isn’t much to say. I’ve already been to London once, last year, for spring break, and so I’d gotten out of the way most of the touristy things I’d been dying to see. I went to London mainly because I loved it there last time, and wanted to visit my friends from UNC who were studying there for the semester and just hang out and relax for a few days. Which is exactly what I did, and it was wonderful, but that doesn’t make for good reading. I also don’t have any pictures because, well, I didn’t really take any.

I think London may just be my favorite city that I’ve been to. Mind you, not as beautiful as, say, Prague, and there’s not as much in the way of historical significance as, say, Rome, but something about the place just makes it my favorite. There’s a feeling to the place, a combination of the lovely Victorian architecture, the people, and the speed with which it all seems to move, that just makes it a place where I could see myself living. While other places, like Prague or Rome or Paris, might have a bit more to offer the tourist, I wouldn’t want to live in either of them–but I could see myself living in London, without a problem. Of course, an American can’t afford to live in London unless he’s already filthy rich or is being paid in Pounds Sterling. The prices in London are exactly what you’d expect to pay in the US–3 for a beer, 6-7 for a light meal. Except they are in pounds. So double them. That’s now $6 for a beer, $12-14 for a light meal. Ouch.

Anyways, most of our time was spent idly wandering around the city. We did a good bit of cooking–in fact, I didn’t eat out once–and generally just took it easy. Thursday night, we went and saw a play, Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf. It was quite excellent, and very impressive–3 hours long, two intermissions, and only four characters. Very powerful, and quite humorous at the same time. I also went to the Imperial War Museum, another of London’s excellent musuems, where we got to see all sorts of tanks, rockets, guns, and a simulation of a WWI trench and London during the Blitz.

Of course, the queen of London museums, and the best museum I’ve ever set foot in, bar none, is the British Museum. I walked the 5 minutes from the flat by Russell Square to the museum, and was just as impressed at its massive neo-classical facade as I was the first time I saw it. This time, I managed to speed walk through it, having already been there three times during my visit to London last year. Nonetheless, it’s an incredible experience. You’re just walking around the place, and find yourself “bumping into” priceless artifacts that you’ve only read about in books, like the Rosetta Stone, part of the Great Sphinx, and oh, yeah, all the sculpture from the Parthenon.

I was also struck at just how different of a study abroad experience the guys on the London program have. Whereas I’m in a room alone 15 minutes out of a small town in an old army barracks, struggling to get by in another language, they’re having a great time living with a group of friends in an excellent flat in one of the highest rent districts of London, being able to enjoy and appreciate the cultural differences (mainly from being able to speak the language and therefore actually understand said differences), while basically relaxing and having a good time. I suppose one could say that my program is the more “real” study abroad program; i.e., a different language, living with the students, etc. But truth be told, I’m not sure I don’t like theirs better. It’d be nice to be able to have a great time like that, enjoying and sharing the experience among friends.

Anyways, that was my trip to London. Not much to write about, but a very good time. It was especially nice to be able to drink something other than a pilsner or hefeweizen–you can actually buy more than two types of beer in London. I was planning on going skiing either this weekend or next weekend, but now that everyone has had to bail due to cost issues or upcoming finals, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, something I’m quite disappointed about.

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