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London Literature Tour: 15-24 June 2016
Various tour snippets written by our learners
We left school at around one o’clock and left the with our black back packs and our striking red scarves . We said our good byes and all we were wished a good bon voyage. When we arrived at the airport we excitedly made our way to weigh our bags and check in. After a long walk from one side of the airport to the other we sat outside the boarding gate sipping on our milkshakes, excited for the days to come.
Once we handed in our tickets we were on our way into the plane. Big smiles welcomed us as we walked onto the plane, making the experience just that much better. After a confusing and chaotic experience of every one swapping seats to be with their desired friends, we settled down and started watching our movies. Our “amazing” dinner arrived at the same time we spotted a hunky looking boy on the other side of the plane, soon our concentration was no longer on tasting the food but just stuffing it down and to carry on whispering and giggling with our girlfriends. Soon we calmed down, finished watching our movies and snuggled up into either small corners or stretched our legs out in the aisles. Just to find out that it’s not that easy to fall asleep on a plane, let alone actually sleep at all. In the morning we woke up to a beautiful sun rise and messy hair. After enjoying the sunrise our breakfast arrived . We only had about an hour left on the plane and Frankfurt was the next stop . After being on a flight for 10 hours , we were looking forward to stretching our legs .
When we finally arrived in Frankfurt, everything looked totally different. We got there and we were searched for any illegal objects. They had a whole new different way of searching people, they had a machine that could scan you by just putting your hands up. We had to leave our bags, scarves and other items in the box. After getting checked by the machine, someone would search again just to make sure that the objects were really out. Then we went to the waiting room where we were allowed to go to the bathroom. After that, we had our passports checked and were soon ready to go into the plane. Once we entered the plane, we took our seats ready to take flight. After minutes, the flight assistants brought a sandwich to eat and offered us drinks as well. The plane then flew for about an hour or more with amazing sights to see as we looked through the window and before we knew it, we had landed in England. It looked absolutely beautiful. At the airport, I met many people from different countries such as America, Mexico, France, Germany, etc. It was a long journey, but it was worth it.
After two long flights we finally arrived in London. We were happy to hear the British accents around us and excited to visit our first destination, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. The cottage was surrounded by beautiful and colourful flowers, whose looks reflected in their scent. Most of the original cottage is still to be seen today with only minor adjustments, which fascinated us. The low ceilings and narrow staircases portrayed the everyday life of Anne Hathaway and her family. After we exited the house and the rain had stopped, little water drops were glistening on the leaves and flower petals, making it ever so beautiful.
On this day we did not only visit Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, but also had the opportunity to watch the famous Matinee show “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Shakespeare at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. This theatre was mind blowing. It had about 1000 seats and was dedicated to the British playwright and poet William Shakespeare.
The play itself is a comedy and portrays many different events surrounding the marriage of Theseus (The duke of Athens) and Hippolyta. The show was rich and filled with adventures from young Athenian lovers to amateur actors and fairies who manipulate and control. Although Shakespeare’s language is very old considering he lived in the 16th Century and therefore is quite difficult to understand, his works are still of the most beautiful pieces of literature in history and will stay forever timeless.
After this we made our way back to the busses and got some dinner. We went to a shop called Sainsbury’s which is like Woolworths, just on steroids. It is massive and one can find everything which is anything there.
Thereafter we headed to our first hotel of the trip, the Holiday Inn in Warwick. All of us were extremely tired due to all the travelling and sight seeing so falling asleep wasn’t an issue.
I think that everyone was very excited because it still seemed like a dream come true. Travelling in London with your friends, you can’t beat that. And this was only the beginning of it all…
Day 2 was magical. We started the day off by traveling to the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon and visiting Shakespeare’s birthplace. We got to see where he grew up and what life was like as a child for the greatest play-write of all time. At the end of the tour, there was a man reciting and acting out popular Shakespeare quotes. Each of our English teachers asked him to recite pieces from each of their favourite plays/sonnets, and he did so with ease. It was very impressive. We then had some free time to explore the lovely town of Stratford. On the main street, one could find a Christmas store that is open all year round, a magic-themed cafe and a library that was founded by Andrew Carnegie himself.
We then drove to Oxford, which was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. Walking through the magical corridors of the most prestigious university in the world felt absolutely surreal. Walking into a place with so much history and so much beauty makes you feel as if you’re in a dream. Needless to say, we were all in awe. Some of us even managed to catch a sneak peek of the great hall where they filmed parts of the Harry Potter films (before being chased away by a very angry Scottish man who though we were all illiterate as there was a big sign in front of the hall saying “for students only”. But come on, we couldn’t pass an opportunity like that). We then had some free time to explore and soak in the beauty of the town. Seeing all those young, intelligent students living their lives in such a lovely place was truly inspiring. It just shows how hard work can pay off. We then prepared ourselves for the long drive to London, where we would be staying for the rest of the trip. We got stuck in traffic on the highway, but eventually got to our hotel in Croyden. After a long day of driving and seeing some of the most beautiful things England has to offer, everyone was very tired. I think we all slept very well that night.
After the change of the guards at the Buckingham Palace, we headed to the arguably biggest tourist attraction in London. The world-famous Big Ben is an architectural masterpiece. It is a site to behold accompanied by the Thames river and towering over many of the surrounding buildings. An interesting fact we learned was that the name Big Ben only refers to the big and loud clock bell inside the tower. The building itself is called Elizabeth tower.
About 50 meters further from Big Ben, we boarded a boat on the Thames river. Even though it was very short, the Thames River cruise is one of the best ways to get an overview of London’s sites and attractions. Amongst all of these are the Globe Theatre, the shard of glass, Big Ben and the Tower of London, just to name a few.
After a long day of walking and sweating, we had finally arrived at the world famous Leicester square. It was a beautiful square where we could relax and gather our energy for the upcoming adventures. We had two hours of free time, where we could walk around and look at the different stores.
One of the stores that caught all of our eyes was M&M World. It was a huge store filled with all of the different kinds of M&M’s that one could dream of. There were awesome machines to play with, such as the scanner which scans your body and tells you which M&M fits best to your personality. We all had great laugh and the smell of fresh chocolate put us all in good mood.
There was a little stretch of grass, where the citizens of London could chill and it had a beautiful fountain to create a beautiful atmosphere. This is where we had settled down to eat our KFC Zinger Burrito.
Going on the London Eye was a truly amazing experience. With 32 tubes that fit 25 people each, it was massive and honestly a little daunting. I myself am not the biggest fan of heights but being able to see part of London and the Thames River from such a height was breathtakingly beautiful.
The street performers in the area were also amazing. We saw musicians, magicians and even a couple of guys doing stunts on bicycles. London is brimming with performers like this, with something entertaining or beautiful around practically every corner.
The London Dungeon, which we visited next, was absolutely terrifying. We were taken through the ages with actors in full costumes and creepy sets with rooms that rocked and fake corpses and sound effects, learning about Guy Fawkes, the fire of London, Jack the Ripper, etc. When we learnt about the mass murderer we were taken to an authentic-looking bar where a woman in full costume told us about the murders as if they were still happening. We were effectively taken back in time. At one point the lights flicked off and someone representing Jack the Ripper himself appeared and came right up to me with a knife, posing to attack. We all screamed, terrified – and then the lights flickered again and suddenly the woman was back, exclaiming in astonishment, “Well you look like you’ve seen a ghost!”
The day ended with a medieval banquet where we had acrobats, singers, dancers and even a man juggling balls upside down with his feet balancing on his head on a stick. Yes, seriously. It was mind-blowing. We were only allowed to drink our soup straight from the bowl, applaud by banging on the table with our fists and calling our waitress by yelling out “WENCH!” It was definitely a night to remember.
The first thing we saw as we came from the underground was the Eros statue and big screens on a corner building with adverts. We had a walk through Regent Street where there are many shops including Burberry and Hamleys. Hamleys is a five story toy store and also the oldest toy store in the world. We passed many restaurants and coffee shops along the way too.
We arrived at the Opera House at 19:00. The show started at 19:30. As we were all eager to see the Phantom of the Opera, the wait seemed tremendously long. Everything was set beautifully from the makeup and costumes of the characters to the setting of the stage. The live music was pitch perfect. The actors voices carried you along with the story. The acting was so well done, it might as well have been real. The show ended at 22:00, at this time everybody was talking about how beautiful and amazing the play had been. We were all giddy and speechless at the same time. The theatre was not far away from the tube station so we headed straight to the underground that took us back to the hotel. We arrived at the hotel at 23:40. Even though most of us were tired, a good number of us went to bed at 00:45, having the show on replay in our minds.
The tour encapsulated the best of London which we became aware of during the open bus night tour of London. Each time the guide pointed something out, we had been there. Our feet were sore, our bags heavy and our wallets light but these 9 days will stay with us forever, a time where all of our world was a stage, and we were merely players.