Sorry, we're Americans

Sunday, July 17, 2011

We ventured out of Bloomsbury for the first time today and were able to glimpse some of London's greatest gems. St. Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace...there they were in all their magnificent glory. What made this whirlwind tour even better was the fact that we were accompanied by one of London's Blue Badge tour guides, so not only did we see the sites but we also learned loads of fascinating details. For example, did you know that Winston Churhill did not want a statue erected in his honor, complaining that "birds will do what birds do"? As it turns out, a statue eventually was built - but to avoid an undignified fate, electric current was run through it to keep the birds at bay!

Our last stop on the tour was Buckingham Palace, where we saw the changing of the guards. We spied two guards before the ceremony began and I wondered whether or not I should snap a photo. Everyone else was doing it, but I thought about how dreadfully annoying that must be for them {they're not just ceremonial guards, but actually skilled soldiers in the British Army}. At first, I told myself that I could take a picture when their backs were turned, but somewhere along the way I morphed into an obnoxious American tourist and began taking pictures right and left. I'm sure they must be used to this, but I still felt a little bad. Although...I really do like the photos!

I was in our neighboring flat yesterday and beside the building's door I saw a bag of unsorted trash with a note attached to it - "Sorry, we're Americans!" I've felt like apologizing for my American ways a lot lately. Like when we attract stares for being loud and annoying on busses or in restaurants. Or when I have to ask amused cashiers to help me count my money. Or when I'm taking a photo of something that is probably dull and insignificant but to me seems like the most fascinating thing on earth...or when I'm walking to the right when everyone else is walking to the left.

I mean, I even feel out of place in the grocery store. I went shopping this afternoon, and it was the most surreal experience ever {I wanted to take pictures, but I had to draw the line somewhere}. Obviously the variety of food is different than ours, but there are other differences as well. The eggs aren't refrigerated, everything is miniature sized and the freezers don't have doors. And you know that bottom rack attached to shopping carts? Well, the carts here do not come equipped with those, which is unfortunate because I realized that's where I'm accustomed to resting my foot. Every time I went to set my foot atop the non-existant bottom bar, it fell into nothingness. I bet I looked awesome. :-)

Anyway, during my two hour grocery excursion I had to go down every aisle and look at everything. As I examined a chocolate bar at the register, I imagined what it would look like to see someone studying a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and that made me laugh. I'm definitely a fish out of water here.

But on the other hand, I felt very European as I walked home with a baguette sticking out from my grocery bag. I pretended my name was Bridget, a girl from northern England who recently moved to London for university. And you know what? Someone actually stopped me to ask for directions to the British Museum. This pleased me for two reasons. 1: It made me think that perhaps I looked as though I belonged and 2: I was actually able to direct her!

Here's a short slideshow of some photos I took today. The quality isn't the best as most were taken from the bus - and when we got out, we had a very limited amount of time. Luckily, we'll be visiting most of these sites in the coming weeks, so I hope to get some better photos then!


Mom said...

Beautiful! Sounds like you are having an awesome time!
Love you

Beth said...

What a graceful thoughtful lady you are! I think you make all us americans look good. I took pictures in the grocery store :). I was pretending I was a journalist.

Christina said...

Hahahha! Good plan.

mindy said...

You gave directions in Europe? Didn't you get lost in best last month? Jk. I bet you fit in perfectly. Can't wait to catch up when you return.

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