Today I went with my British Life and Culture class into London to tour the Houses of Parliament and the Globe Theatre! I couldn't take pictures of Parliament, but I did snap a couple at Globe, so stay tuned :)
Kalee and I rode the train into London and grabbed some BK breakfast at Waterloo before meeting up with Kelsey and Kelly. We rode the tube over to Parliament, where when we emerged onto the street were met with a LOT of police men and some of the streets being blocked off. We asked our instructor what was going on and she explained that the Tories (Conservative political party) were trying to pass some new legislation that dealt with the unions and people were planning a protest today! How interesting.
We headed into Parliament after that, where we had to undergo security checks very similar to ones at the airport. We split into groups and headed off! The tour was actually quite long, almost an hour and a half. We visited the Norman Arch, saw a lot of busts of previous Prime Ministers, walked our way into a long processional chamber where there were portraits and statues of influential monarchs (like my favorite Queen Elizabeth!). Then we headed into the Prince's Chamber, where I was SO PLEASED to find portraits of important people from the Tudor reign circling the room. Gotta love those crazy Tudors. The House of Lords was the next stop on the tour. The House of Lords is the non-elected part of Parliament. Up until Tony Blair's rule as Prime Minister in the 1990's, it was actually a hereditary position, passed down from father to son. They don't have nearly the amount of power they used to and actually have to answer to the House of Common's now as the real power in Parliament. We walked through a few more rooms before heading to the House of Commons. It was much less elegant and regal looking than it's counterpart, and our tour guide explained that during the bombing of World War II, the House of Commons was completely demolished. So Winston Churchill re-built it, but on a less grander scale since the UK was broke.
The tour was very informative and I loved seeing the splendor of the Houses and witnessing the history of the UK proudly shown throughout the building.
After the tour we headed out into the streets, where the protest was in full swing. I have never witnessed a protest at this scale, so it was really strange but interesting to see it happening right in Central London. We took the tube across the Thames and found our way to the Globe. The tour at the Globe was much shorter than our previous one, but just as enjoyable. The Globe is actually the 3rd one to be built and opened in 1997. The first Globe, the one from Shakespeare's time burnt down 400 years ago and the second one was closed during the rule of Oliver Cromwell. Our tour guide gave us a bit of history lesson and we were able to take some pictures inside the theatre.
Unfortunately, I missed the Globe's season since they only run shows during the summer, on account of the fact it doesn't have a roof. But I guess it's just another reason I have to come back to London sometime! :)
Oh, and these are the super cool souvenirs I bought at the gift shop. The shot glass reads "I'll ne'er be drunk whilst I live again." I got a pin too that says "All the world's a stage."
Sadly, I've also caught a cold in the past couple days so hopefully I'll be able to get over it soon! I'm going to see a play on Wednesday at the National Theatre, and then we're visiting Oxford in one week! And then I'm going to GERMANY. Lots to look forward to!!! :)