Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Day Thirty-Four

So it was off to London. We left early in the morning

Looking at my passport stamp from the chunnel, I realized it was exactly four years later, to the day, than my previous chunnel stamp. Creepy.

Lots of terrorist paranoia security as we boarded.

We found fish and chips first. They are so good. Harry Ramsden's is a reputable chipper that I remebered from Scotland, so we ate there.

Then it was time to torment more pigeons in Trafalgar Square, as per our method that we perfected in Barcelona.

If, like me, you are a Mormon, you have heard Gordon B. Hinckley's memories of speaker's corner in Hyde Park. We went to the once-popular location where many an impassioned religious man or discoverer of a new miracle drug have spoken, but it was empty. That didn't stop us. I gave a thirty second speech extolling the virtues of the frisbee, and chastised Britain for not playing frisbee more often. Only Rob was there to hear it. Preaching to the choir.

Wandering back, we found ourselves in full view of the House of Parliament. Here's some info you can use to sound smart: the big tower is not actually called Big Ben. That's the name of the bell inside that you can't actually see.

I really had to, er, visit the loo at this point, so I did something that I normally avoid for philosophical reasons: I used a pay toilet.

This thing is amazing though. It had signs all of over it: "Voted Best Public Toilet In Britain!" And it was. It was clean, private, had fresh flowers, and played some broadway music from a boombox. It was quite serene.

Then we went into some cathedral.

Earlier in the day we had bought tickets to Le Mes (I tried to talk Rob into Death of a Salesman but Rob knows what he wants). We wandered some more, checked out some record shops, then went to the show. It was a great production.

Day Thirty-Three

Sunday and time for church again. Rob tracked down one a few mile north of our hotel. I wish this were more interesting than it was, but imagine not being able to understand anything for three hours. We caved and just sang the hymns in English, figuring the poor locals in this tourist-infiltrated ward were sick of hearing us yanks mutilate their language.
Our pre-purchased chunnel passes would only allow us one more day in Paris, so this was our day to visit Versailles. I warned Rob that it was not as cool as Het Loo (see day eight) and that it was one of the stuffier things in Paris to do, but we went anyway.
At this point, I ask that readers brace themselves. That's right. We saw Ben Stiller touring Versailles. Man, that is a short guy. Seriously, 5'5" or something like that. His tour group was travelling in reverse direction compared to the others, and he was surrounded by three large men.
So if you want to learn something about Versailles, ask someone else. I found it intensely boring and don't remember much. Basically what you need to know is that Louis XIV liked to party.
It was a nice day though. Rob and I got ice cream. And any day with ice cream is usually a good day.

Day Thirty-Two

The Louvre. It's like a mile long and has more masterpieces per square inch than an IHOP stuffed crepe has trans fat. This is where you go if:

-You want to see the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, or the Venus di Milo.
-You need an all-day cardiovascular workout.
-You are a tourist from anywhere.
-You want to take blurry photos of something you can buy a postcard of.
-You want to make up for a lifetime of not being exposed to art, culture, etc. and have only one day to do so.
-You need to get out of the sun for awhile.
-You have only one day to live, and the fate of your soul depends on how many paintings you have seen.
-You have some compulsive desire to stand under a pyramid and an upside-down pyramid, both made of glass.

All of this and more are available at your local Museo d' Louvre. We saw almost everything, if not everything. It was overwhelming, exhausting, enlightening, and a whole bunch of other stuff. The Louvre is worth several visits but make sure you have plenty of food and water before you go in, or you might not make it through.

Then we went and saw the Notre Dame cathedral. Rob talked to a Dutch guy, in Dutch, and oddly enough I found myself able to follow almost their entire conversation. Cool.

At this point I must confess something that I am not proud of. We were hungry, getting low on funds, and very unskilled in the ways of choosing and ordering french food. So we found ourselves in a certain American establishment ordering certain American food items, each sharing the same unmistakeable two letter prefix.

My sister Cate has a theory that it is impossible to order a meal at McDonald's in French, due to names like "Big Mac", "McNuggets", "McChicken" etc. that just don't translate.

We probably did some other stuff today too.