Sunday, February 7, 2016

"Look kids! Big Ben! Parliament!" Highlights from London

The Most American Man in the World took on London. And conquered it. Or maybe crushed it. Well, to be precise, we had a good time and didn't cause an international incident. So that's something, right?

We took the train from Ascot into central London. Travel in a plane or train always makes me pensive, and looking out of the train's big picture window, I note that the sky is overcast but the grass is a vibrant green from all the rain, quite unlike February in New York. And then there are the trees.

The trees in England are not simply characteristic, but characters in and of themselves. There are Hamletian trees, indecisive about which way they want to grow. In a meadow, a Fastaffian oak is laying on its side, its roots obscenely pointing in the air, and Mother Earth, exhausted from trying to coax it to rise, has covered it in a moss blanket. And then there are the Sherlockain ones -- dark trunks with hundreds of synaptic-like branches that stretch to make tenuous connections with the ether.

I realize these metaphors might be a bit forced, but it's been so long since I had a poetic thought, I'm writing each one down in a small red notebook while the train chugs past quintessentially English towns -- Victoria Water, Egham, Feltham.

The Most American Man leans over to whisper in my ear, "I Feltham, did you?"

*     *     *

When we get to London, Chris is in his element, mainly because he loves monuments, statues and reading boring plaques about dead people. I booked us for a Double Decker tour, which is perfect since it allows us to see most of the main sites and hop off when Chris wants to take a picture or grab a snack (we both accept that there will be no end to snacking on this trip). And the weather gods have cooperated to deliver his ideal climate -- overcast, brisk and misty. (Is this guy not made for England?)
Chris outside Buckingham Palace.
Across Buckingham Palace, the tall, stately, trees with curvy bottoms lining The Green Park remind me of Helen Mirren -- but that may also be because she played The Queen. Meanwhile, Chris notices that the hot chocolate stand in the park sells mini-Belgium waffles drizzled with chocolate syrup, and promptly orders one.

But the highlight of his day is Parliament Square where Chris gets to shout dialogue from National Lampoons European Vacation ("Look kids! Big Ben! Parliament!) and take lots of photos of statues to dead men -- a lumpy Churchill, a sparsely dressed Gandhi, a graceful Nelson Mandela, and curiously, a benevolent-looking Abraham Lincoln. (I get why the other statues are there, but Lincoln seems particularly out of place.) I'm generally bored by both Chevy Chase movies and statues, but there is hope for this trip -- Chris mentions on the plane ride to India that he would have liked to have spent a week in London just seeing all the sights.

Ladies and gentlemen, do we have a burgeoning world traveler? Do I dare hope?

1 comment:

Lauren Vasil said...

The Most American Man leans over to whisper in my ear, "I Feltham, did you?"

This. Is. Amazing.