Thursday, February 24, 2011


If you want to know the explanation behind this particular blog, read the next paragraph and if not, skip ahead as you see fit.

Right, well, seeing as I'm studying abroad through Central, I'm supposed to keep a journal to turn in once in a while (so obviously not a really personal journal). Blogs can be used as journals. Anyway, to get to the point, one of the things I'm supposed to include is about these assignments we're supposed to do which are actually a lot cooler than most normal assignments. Generally they're sightseeing assignments and while I've written about them elsewhere (in a personal journal where I revel my true meanness and scariness...) I probably ought to add them here.

Our first assignment was one I sort of hinted at before but only a little so you probably didn't notice. It was to visit two markets. The best way I can think of to describe them is to have you think of the Varied Industries Building during the middle of the State Fair. Now substitute the booths of random things for people selling food, handcrafted things, and some clothing. Now make it outside. There you go.

One of the markets I saw was the more Ritz-y Borough Market. It had food that was already made, more gourmet things and more expensive prices. So in general it smelled delicious. But I saw it on a Saturday and it was super-crowded. Way beyond my liking. I haven't been back to be honest.

The second market I saw was Brixton Market. Brixton Market, I ought to tell you, had the same qualities as I mentioned above for markets only add in the smell of the old Fareway. That's right there was meat hanging in the windows of stored that lined the area where stalls were set up. The odd thing was how little it bothered me. I mean I'm not about to eat it but I really don't care if I see dead pig and cow and such dangling. It really doesn't phase me Probably a large part of the reason I won't become a vegetarian despite the fact I have a good deal of people convinced I am one. Anyway, Brixton Market... They had fruit. It was cheap. Yay fruit! It wasn't as crowded but still more crowded than I'd like but worth it for cheap produce.

For the second assignment, we were supposed to take a specific walk around the East End of London. Well, I'll be honest. I didn't take the specific walk. I did however, get lost around there twice so I consider myself having seen all that I was supposed to just not in the specific order.

How may you ask did I get lost in the East End of London? Well my friend, that explanation is very simple; I can not tell north from south. You see, I have a class there, along with another Central student, through London Met. Uni. On the first day of class, we arrived, thankfully, about an hour early because we could not find our class. We did, however, see where a market normally was and see Christ Church. We also saw a lot of shops and some residential apartments and some other stuff before we finally found our class.

The next week (because classes are in general once a week here) I meant to leave with the same person but somehow didn't manage that and, well, did you know tube stations have more than one exit? I do. Actually I did. But I still got out at the wrong one, thought it was the right one, and ended up wandering the wrong side of the street for a while. Lovely times.

Anyway, one of the more interesting things to me was the Whitechapel Bell Foundry which is in the East End of London, mostly because I was rather an American Idiot and assumed that the Liberty Bell was made in, well, the United States. Shoulda known better. It was made in London. Liberty Bell from London. Liberty, Statue of from France. Who knows what else we have used as a national monument and isn't actually made in the United States? Perhaps George Washington even once considered himself a citizen of the British Empire.

Oh, also saw part of the East End again on Wednesday when we went on a Jack-the-Ripper tour. Women killed in the East End. Missing kidneys. All that stuff. Really quite creepy. Won't go into it but recommend the tour and what not.

The third assignment was to go to this museum on the History of London at the Barbican tube stop (oddly enough I'd heard of the Barbican before I came here but for the life of me I can not remember who or what from.) At any rate, the museum was actually pretty cool. Very interactive sort of place (think if the Science Center of Iowa was actually a History of Des Moines Museum and the history of Des Moines was actually interesting).

The exhibits went back from BC times to "the future" in which there were photoshopped pictures of how London will look when the sea levels rise and disaster strikes, etc. They had stuff about when the Romans were here, and the Saxons, and a bit about the Tudors. There was a room with a couple movies about "Pleasure Gardens" and this cool picture thing where you could touch the name of somebody and read about their life. They had a Victorian town all laid out. Pretty awesome.

This one was another walk but it included this really strange museum, Sir John Soane's Museum. Basically this man back in the late 17, early 1800's had a thing for collecting artifacts. Like back when you're a kid and you have ten million collects (pretty rocks, old pennies, strange buttons, etc) and take it up a few notches. That is what this man's house was like (only he had stuff like an Egyptian sarcophagus, random stuff from Roman times, and a whole ton of books). Basically, I think, though he may have been brilliant he probably was the kind of man people kept their children away from when he was alive. No offense.

The rest of the walk, we went by a memorial to Canadian airmen from WWII in this really pretty park (London's littered with pretty parks. It's pretty amazing.), and basically a huge, for lack of better term, legal section. There was the High Courts of Justice and the area where a bunch of barristers (court representatives) work. I do remember there also being a wig shop that we passed which was highly amusing since several of the wigs were placed on small animal figures (like a pig) and we're talking those formal old fashioned wigs that you see pictures of the forefathers wearing. Apparently their lawyers wear them into court.

We also passed by the Temple church which apparently was pretty big in the DaVinci Code which I admit to never reading. Couldn't get passed the first chapter because of the belt thing. For some reason that bothered me endlessly.

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