Thursday, June 17, 2010

The London Experience - Part One

  Despite the extreme difficulties of the audition, the trip to London was wonderful, and I fell for the city like a blind roofer. Here's a rundown of my five days in the kingdom, conveniently broken into chapters for your viewing pleasure. I took a lot more pictures than I'm showing here, but none of them came out very good. That's what I get for taking my point-and-shoot instead of the pro-gear.


  Technically, Day 2 is the real Day 1. Day 1 was Friday, the day I arrived, but that day is completely unremarkable and consisted of me checking into my hotel and wandering around the streets of Hammersmith. I also ate a sandwich. Exciting, right?
  Saturday, however, I bought my Oyster Card (reloadable farecard for the Tube) and headed into London proper. A quick ten minutes or so later, I arrived at the Westminster stop, climbed a short flight of steps and walked out into the street. Right in front of me stood a giant behemoth clock tower. "Is that...?" I thought to myself just as Big Ben began to chime the top of the hour. Perfect timing, and an amazing sight to see.
  From then on, I simply wandered around London on foot. No map, no plan. Just to see what I could see. I happened across so many wonderful sights purely by coincidence, but none was greater than when I decided to eat another exciting sandwich in Hyde Park. It was a beautiful, warm day, and I thought a picnic lunch in the park would suit me just fine. Surrounding the park, however, was a wall of spectators lining the street. I assumed there was a parade of some sort, and I made my way along the avenue until I could find a place to cross. Red jacketed Royal Guards with their tall bearskin hats lined both sides, and Bobbies ushered onlookers through the crossing.

  I had my iPod raging in both ears, and right around this time, a string and choir cover version of the Beatles song "Because" began to play. As I stepped out to cross the street, everything literally went into slow motion. The sweet serenity of the violins was playing, the brilliant red of the Royal Guards' jackets was blinding. I turned to look down the boulevard and could see row upon row of Union Jack flags fluidly riding the breeze. Something much bigger than a parade was happening.

  I found a nice tall shade tree and ate my picnic lunch under its branches. The park, which was actually not Hyde Park, but St. James Park, was a lush, beautiful green. The street I had just crossed over turned out to be "The Mall," which, unknown to me at the time, is the main street the leads to Buckingham Palace. As I said, I was operating all day with no map.

  Once I had gotten closer to the palace, and snaked my way through the heavy crowd to see what all the commotion was, I realized where I was. At the same time I was figuring that out, I looked over to see a group of people standing on the balcony of the palace, surrounded by ruffles and flourishes. A woman wearing a white hat raised her arm and waved to the crowd.

  It was the Queen of England.

  Stunning. She left momentarily, and I began to make my way back through the crowd into the park. Suddenly, I heard the approaching roar of jet engines and looked up. Planes from the RAF were flying overhead in formation. I fumbled for my camera and snapped a couple of photos as repeated passes were made. The last pass was flown by six fighter jets trailing red white and blue smoke. Awesome.

  The last thing I did on Saturday was walk back down to the Westminster area, cross the Themes and board the "London Eye." The Eye is a gigantic 443 foot tall ferris wheel overlooking the whole of the city. I had to stand in line for about an hour, but it was totally worth it. The view from the top was breathtaking, and it's where I took the first picture in this post.
  That evening, I returned to my hotel a little early to do some final rehearsal. The next day would be the big audition, and my stomach was tied in about fifty knots.


PART 2 - The Audition

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for that shot of the hot cop with the shaved head.