Reaching Out 2 The World


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A Perfect London Visit

Today we’d be walking throughout London, taking in as much of this beautifully large city as we could! We arrived my train just outside the newly finished Shard which stands as the highest building in England. The building was built to resemble a shard of glass. IMG_3131Inside this building you’ll have offices, restaurants, luxury apartments, as well as England’s first 6 star hotel. I didn’t even know the stars went that high… of course after my trip to Manchester I couldn’t help but wonder if the architect on this building also resided somewhere high up above us on a floor he specifically designed just for himself.

We crossed over the London Bridge into the heart of London. While crossing this bridge we could look down the Thames RiverIMG_3006 and spot the famous Tower Bridge off in the distance. This would eventually be a destination of ours. On the other side of the bridge we came across a monument that allowed people to take the spiral staircase to the top. The Monument was built in 1671 to commemorate the Great Fire of London and to celebrate the rebuilding of the city. More importantly, the views from above were breathtaking! IMG_3129IMG_3018For good measure we constructed a paper airplane which we would launch from the top of the monument. Being 311 steps up ensured a nice long flight for our little plane. If you’re wondering it did in fact graze someone upon landing but the gentleman hardly seemed to notice. The plane’s maiden flight was actually quite graceful. We also recovered the craft after descending from the peak.

Our next stop in London was St. Pauls, which is a super huge cathedral. The dome on St. Pauls is the second heaviest unsupported dome in the world. When we got there it was right around lunch time and it seemed as though everyone in city, that was on lunch break, had made their way to bask in the sun and enjoy their lunches on the nice grass just outside. IMG_3027Although we didn’t have lunch here we did decide to join in on the grass lounging. Just next to where we sat were these trees that had been painted blue. They had been painted to highlight the importance of trees in the urban environment. I couldn’t help but wonder if the pain on the trees would harm them and therefor contradict the idea of highlighting their importance… but let’s just hope they calculated all that before plunging their brushes elbow deep in a can of blue paint. IMG_3133IMG_3132

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next stop on our list was to walk through St. James gardens which would lead us to Buckingham Palace. This of course is where the Queen lives. From what I understand she was out of town for the day or else I’m convinced I would have been able to meet her. IMG_3134As we stood outside the palace I thought about what it must have been like to grow up as royalty. I know they live a life of luxury but I’m not so sure I’d be a fan of waking up each morning with thousands of tourists and paparazzi outside my front doors. The palace is so large I’m sure there has to be places with in it that the royal family haven’t even explored. I bet as kids they probably couldn’t even go outside without being in danger. I’d say most of their lifestyle is just so far from my own that it’s just a bit to hard to comprehend. I think they spend the majority of their time as ambassadors of their country.

Outside of the palace were guards. These guys were dressedIMG_3054 in the traditional garb of the red jacket with their large tall black fluffy hat. These guys carry guns, and will yell at you if you do something you aren’t supposed to be doing, but for the most part they just stand there. I’m not sure how much training these guards have to protect and serve, or if they are there more for traditional reasons. You used to be able to get close to them, try to bother them, and take a picture with them, but it seems as though that’s no longer allowed. I imagine they received a lot of abuse with tourist trying to get them to react. Generally, whenever you saw a royal guard there would be a London police officer standing close.

Our next place of interest was Westminster. This is where you’ll find the Parliament Buildings as well as Big Ben. These buildings were easily some of the most impressive buildings I saw in London… and that’s saying a lot. IMG_3069There was just so much detail that went into each part of this building. I can’t imagine how much time and effort went into creating such a structure. IMG_3141

From there we hopped on a boat which would charter us down the Thames Rivers. Our guide told us about the buildings lining the river, some of which we had already seen that day. On this journey we passed under several bridges like the London Bridge, Millennium Bridge, and London Bridge. If you’re wondering what the Millennium Bridge is then you should watch the 6th Harry Potter movie. Those darn Death Eaters took that sucker down! In all realness I guess it’s a pretty wobbly bridge to begin with. They actually had to close it the day after opening it because they found it to be too unsafe. It’s since been reopen, but even foot traffic can cause a wobble. The last bridge we went under was Tower Bridge. I’d say this is the most famous bridge in London. IMG_3135With the sun coming down I’d say we picked a great time to few these bridges.

We had a reservation for the London Eye at 7 so we had to make our way back to Westminster. England’s underground is relatively superior when it comes to public transportation so getting from one side of the city to the other was fairly easy. It did help that I was traveling with 3 people that knew where they were at all times.

IMG_3096The London Eye is a large Ferris wheel that provides a birds eye view of the entire city. It reaches 135 meters into the sky so you really can see just about everything. IMG_3138Basically after touring the city on foot all day we had the chance to see everything again from a new perspective. Certainly a pretty cool way to end the day.

We had one more task before heading home. I really wanted to meet up with my friend Ndidi. I met Ndidi while in South Africa and she lives in London. For the past 6 months she’s been working in Singapore with her law firm but she arrived back in London this week. Although she worked a very long day today we all waited it out so we could meet her for drinks at a bar called Abacus. IMG_3139

My time in London was nothing short of incredible and I owe so much to the friends I met up with. Thanks so much to Sean for traveling with me for the past two weeks and providing me with my own personal tour of his awesome country. Thanks to Koren for driving us the long distances to amazing places like Cambridge and the Sherwood Forrest. Thanks to Fraser for the much needed drinks and company as we toured London! Ndidi, it was so great to see you, I wish we had more time! Everyone I’ve met along the way has been so accommodating and helpful. I look forward to the next time we can meet up.

Thursday and Friday would be my final days in England before I head to South Africa. I’m feeling very thankful and very anxious!

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London’s Finest

The start of a long week of traveling Sean and I woke up by 9 and packed ourselves ready to go. Today we’d be headed to London to meet up with some more free runners! Since today was also to be my last day in Nottingham that meant that I’d need to take everything with me. Luckily, Sean’s mum drove us to the train station that morning to save us from having to walk and take the bus. But what I was most happy about was that Koren had already taken my super huge Blue Bag that was filled with all the donations so I wouldn’t have to lug that throughout the city. IMG_2908

Our plan was to meet up in London, spend the afternoon training, before heading to Red Hill to stay the night at Koren’s. When we first got into to London our first task was to find where these guys were training. To give you a visual, I was carrying around two medium sized bags and one small one, and Sean had two bags with him as well. At this point, due to the back injury Sean was still recovering from, our pace was relatively slow and labored. IMG_2910

We finally made it to their first training location and there were 5 or 6 guys training. The place again looked as if it had been created for the purpose of free running but the guys insisted it was just a good find. Since Sean wasn’t able to do much training he spent the afternoon coaching me. I’m still no where’s near at the level of everyone else but I was able to do a few jumps that I never would have thought plausible. IMG_2915

The second place we went to train ended up being like a mecca for free runners. I think it was the combination of it being a bank holiday, and beautifully sunny, but we were joined by so many runners. These guys would come up with something they wanted to do, a challenge, and they’d spend as much time as they needed perfecting it. Everywhere you looked there were people jumping, flipping, and running. There was also a large span of ages that were there. There were kids ranging from late twenties to young teens. Sean was saying that every year the kids seem to get younger and better, performing stunts harder and more difficult than ever before. This was definitely apparent as I watched kids half my age flipping and jumping without a care in the world. IMG_2921

Around 4 in the afternoon Sean, Tim, David, and I traveled across town to a pub known as, The Worlds End. This place was really cool and had a loft above the bar where we stationed ourselves for the better part of the afternoon. Since I had all my stuff with me still, and they each happened to have bags too it looked as if we were all backpackers. This also meant that we had loads of things to entertain us. First we played cards while having a few drinks but once we realized we all knew how to play Catan we knew exactly how we’d be spending our afternoon. Playing a board game in a loft of a pub turned out to be a pretty great location and atmosphere. As I’m sure you can imagine we were able to make the board game a bit more interesting with a few appropriately adapted rules. Tim was our grand winner but we were all a bit happy to finished I think because it meant moving on to our next location for some much needed dinner. IMG_2927

We grabbed our bags and took a train to Camden. Camden is a section of London that is known for its markets and cheap food. We ate a place called Bang Bang chicken. It was equivalent to Chinese food you’d find at a food court. This of course means it was exactly what we were looking for!

Our next stop of the night was to Islington where the guys knew fellow runner and friend that was going to be playing guitar at a bar. Although this ended up being a bit of a hike to get to it ended up being totally worth it. Max was the guy that would be entertaining us with his guitar skills and he was really great. More impressive was that fact that he was born without a forearm on his left/strumming arm. If you were just listening you’d never know. This guy was truly talented and an absolute inspiration! IMG_2929

We spent the rest of the night hanging out at this pub before making the journey to Red Hill where Koren’s family resides. The trip wasn’t the easiest but we did finally make it. At this point we had carried those bags throughout this entire journey and we were in desperate need of sleep. It had been a very long Monday and on Tuesday we’d be making the long drive to Cambridge!