London: Westminster Abbey & Piccadilly Circus

Back in London!
​Today we got up early to finish packing and catch our train to London. As we were walking to our subway station and saying goodbye and good riddance to Paris, we were greeted by a scene of two men fighting fairly violently right in front of our subway station. It was pretty scary. One of them was whacking the other one with who knows what and they both ended up on the ground… Told you Paris is a terrible city. Then some scary guys seemed to be following us in the subway, and one offered to carry my bag, which I refused, expecting he’d run off with it or something. We were all very happy to leave Paris.

We had a bit of a wait at the chunnel and of course the train ride back through parts of France and England and the Chunnel, so I managed to finish my Pride and Prejudice book today. Getting back to London was such a relief! People are much nicer here than in Paris (e.g. no one gets all in your face trying to sell you mini Eiffel Towers), we speak the language, and there’s not a great cloud of cigarette smoke hovering over the city. Basically, compared to Paris, it was paradise.

Once we got done hefting our suitcases up and down stairs and escalators and across streets and made it to our new hotel, we found out that our rooms were not quite ready yet. So we went and got a bite to eat and then came back. The new hotel is really nice! It’s a little more expensive than the others, but they carried our bags up for us (which we were VERY grateful for, since we’d just had to deal with them all through the subways of two different cities, and  since all of us are on the fourth floor of this building). I also really like the decor here; you can see a few pictures below. However, the one thing I do NOT like is that the internet is horrible. I spent a very long time trying to connect with no success, and finally am only able to post this after about an hour and a half of attempting to connect.

Anyways, on to what we actually did today. Mickey and I went to a service at Westminster Abbey. It was the 3:00 Evensong, which the bulletin they gave us said they’ve done every day in that church for about 1000 years. The choir that sang was really beautiful, although I didn’t realize until they walked passed us during one point that it was made up of all males, young boys singing the high parts. There is a huge organ in there, and at times it seemed to overpower the voices a little. There were all sorts of vicars (I think they called them) around there, and their importance seemed to be signified by how colorful and elaborate the decorations on their robes were. The service was very formal, and they had parts were they paraded around with banners or large golden crosses on sticks and were swinging incense (clearly I didn’t pick up on most of the symbolism), but it’s a very pretty church on the inside and the choir sounded great, with a slight echo off of the very high ceilings in the church. Afterwards we took a few pictures of the outside and then headed off to Piccadilly Circus.

Piccadilly Circus is basically a sort of square with a fountain crowned with a statue of what everyone thinks is Eros or Cupid, but I think is actually something else. Internet is too sketchy to look it up right now. There are also neon signs in the background, and people sit around the steps of the fountain. Some call it the “crossroads of the world,” and you’re supposed to run into someone you know there (we didn’t). The signs are reminiscent of Times Square, I would say. We spent maybe 15 minutes there, enough to say we did see it at least while we were in London, and then headed off to our next destination.

We had discussed that it would be fun to see a movie while we were here, and decided on The Great Gatsby. We then went to Leicester Square and found the cinema we’d looked up, Vue Cinema, and bought our tickets, which were in the second row. We grabbed a bite to eat from a place selling pizza by the slice, and then proceeded into the cinema. I’ve definitely never gone up four escalators to get to the screen where my movie was playing before, and the cinema was probably the nicest I’ve been in! They also show commercials before the previews, of things as random as car ads, perfume, dog food, and coffee–and probably a good ten minute’s worth, before the previews even start! And there aren’t ads just playing until the time the movie starts, but our commercials didn’t start until 6:10, the time stated on the ticket.

The Great Gatsby was directed by the same guy who did Moulin Rouge, so when watching one of his movies it takes a little while to get used to his perspective, but then I really enjoyed it. I didn’t remember too many details from the book since I read it four years ago, but the movie was definitely entertaining to watch and hit the highlights of the book that I remembered. I also liked that it included quotes from the actual book.

After our movie we just headed back to the hotel and started the epic battle with the internet. Once I get this posted, I’m going to bed. We have a big day tomorrow, and a lot of sights to see–Harrods, Abbey Road and the Beatles store, a fish and chips place, the British Museum, and maybe Camden Market again. Good night!

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