We are now in the last few days of our time here in London and we are rushing around the city to get all of our last minute “to dos” out of the way so that we can start to make our way home. From plays, museums, churches and cathedrals, we have seen this city up and down, left and right, for miles and miles. I feel that I am extremely confident in saying that I have seen everything that I had wanted to see and more and couldn’t be more proud to say that I have made this city my second home.
In many different aspects, London is constantly changing. From the styles, people, architecture and tradition, they are growing exceptionally well with the rapid changes of society. Covent Garden is a good example of this changing society of London. Covent Garden gets its name from being the medieval-era “Garden of Covent”. This was when fruits and vegetables were grown and sold here for the kitchens at Westminster Abbey. The garden was first laid out in the 17th century by an architect who planned for it to be Italianate style, with the square being known as the Piazza. In the latter days, selling flowers, fruits and vegetables was the most traditional, but has now changed to have more modern day food, restaurants, stores and shops. The environment is very lively with live music, entertainers and vendors at every corner. The vendors sell homemade crafts, jewelry and clothing that they take utmost pride in. Covent Garden has been known for captivating and drawing people in from all part of the world. Even though it has changed dramatically throughout the years, it is still a more popular place for both tourists and London citizens. I found this place very interesting after we figured out how to make our way to the actual “market” of the garden. I thoroughly enjoyed Covent Garden and wish that we had a place as lively as this to visit regularly back home. (AAA, 93)
Setting foot inside one of the world’s oldest museums was probably a feeling unlike any other and one that I will never feel again, unless I retrace my steps in this museum. The British Museum reminded me a lot of the Louvre, which I had visited while staying in Paris for a weekend because of the vast array of history that is treasured and displayed throughout the museum. The museum was founded in 1753 by Sir Hans Sloane, and is home to thousands of global artifacts, many of which are delicately found from Britain’s imperial past. These rich and inviting items from the past span over 1.8 million years of world civilization and continue into the present day. The Rosetta Stone seemed to be the most popular piece of magnificently found history. This piece of stone stuck out to me the most out of everything that I had seen because of the rich past, present, future and mystery that it still holds. The significance to the Rosetta Stone is that it holds the key to the understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphics and was founded in 1799. The amount of Egyptian ruins in the British Museum are the finest collection outside of Egypt itself and holds the only remaining statue of Rameses II from his memorial temple at Thebes. The newest part of the museum is the massive glass roof that spans the central courtyard, and was placed over the courtyard in 2000, making the museums public space increase by fifty percent. (Williams, 4,7-8) (AAA, 90)
War Horse, a story of a boy, his horse and his family during the hard times of World War I. Britain goes to war with Germany in a harsh battle between the two, involving boys from ages 18 and on through adulthood, alongside noble horses who were more like true friends. The main character, Albert, has to lend his best friend, his horse Joey, to the army. War Horse is a novel, movie and play that is known worldwide for its instant success. I was fortunate enough to see this play performed in the New London Theatre on Drury Lane here in London. What an awesome opportunity! The New London Theatre was first founded by Thomas Killigrew in 1663, which had received a patent to do so from King Charles II. This theatre has provided entertainment for masses of people and has been visited by every monarch since the Restoration. The theatre reached its three hundred and fiftieth year of operation on May, 7, 2012, however, the current building celebrated its two hundredth birthday in October 2012. Several performances have been put on at this theatre throughout the many years of its operation, such as My Fair Lady, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and The King and I. This theatre has only one stage, but has worked diligently throughout the years in order to make this work for both the actors and audiences. (TheatreRoyal)
While staying in Dublin, Ireland, we were casually walking around town and ran into a street performance competition in Merrion Square. There were multiple performances going on at the same time, as well as other street performers making their own art and whatever else their talents held for them. The street performers that we chose to watch were flame throwers. As flame throwers, they collectively got the attention of most of the people whom were in the vicinity, probably because they were literally throwing balls of flames around as if it were second nature to them. They had hula hoops with fire on them, batons with fire on each end, throwing them around along with acrobatic moves by themselves as well as with each other. It was a performance unlike any I have ever seen before. The two performers that were putting on this show were an Australian couple who traveled the world to share their talents with others in hopes of raising money for themselves and continuing with their happy and exciting lives. The couple was not only entertaining with their flame throwing, but with their commentary between themselves and with the audience as well. You could really get a feel for who they were and what they were trying to make of their lives by sharing the love of their talents with such a large body of people.
The Globe, a modern reconstruction of Shakespeare’s original Globe Theatre, is meant to give us a similar experience to those who attended plays during Shakespeare’s time. This modern reconstruction is made of oak, thatch and 36,000 handmade bricks. This remake would have probably been very similar to the original make of Shakespeare’s Globe, which burned down in 1613. The theatre is open to the skies and the audience is encouraged to cheer and shout just as they would have done in Shakespeare’s day. I attended the play, A Mid-Summer Nights Dream, an original by William Shakespeare for the first time at the Globe Theatre, located on the Southbank of London. This play took an old-fashioned view of the fairies instead of the more modern fairytale depiction. This production is much bawdier in nature than most plays in today’s era. The actors really made the play come to life in front of me. The fairies even ran past me through the crowd below the stage, to create a connection between the audiences. The play A Mid-Summer Nights Dream is a tale of mismatched lovers, led astray by fairy tricks, players who also fall victim to fairy magic and royal love that continues to grow throughout the play. By seeing such an historical, yet magical play at one of the world’s most renowned theatres in the world, was magical in itself and those fairies will float in my head for a long while, even after leaving this fairytale city of London. (Williams, 70,77,83)
Jane Austen was an English novelist whose works continue to be popular today. Austen wrote in such a sophisticated manner that many noble men and women of great power looked to her work as works of art and were inspired by her works. When we visited Bath, England, we were able to visit a home which would have been very similar to where she would have lived for only a few months. The Jane Austen Centre in Bath was built between 1735 and 1760 by two pre-eminent Bath architects of the period, John Wood the Elder, and his son, known John Wood the Younger. The focus of the Jane Austen Centre is to give us an idea of Jane Austen’s five years living and socializing in Bath, giving us detailed explanation and descriptions of the places she lived in and visited, as well as the locations which were the inspiration for her lively wit and sharp attire. There were many of Jane’s belongings on display as well as pictures of some of her star-crossed lovers. (TheJaneAustenCenter)