England has been quite an adventure and we are all sad but excited to experience France tomorrow. We spent two nights in Stratford before moving on to London. It's been such a whirlwind that we almost forgot to blog!
We started our English adventure by visiting Birmingham to see the Sarehole Mill where Tolkien played as a boy. The quiet forest was hidden in the center of the bustling city. It was easy to see why Tolkien escaped there to find his own enchanted forest. We also saw the houses he grew up in and the two towers of Birmingham, which local legend says inspired his book The Two Towers.
Next we moved on to Stratford, the epicenter of Shakespeare's legacy. Here we saw The Tempest performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare's birthplace, and Warwick Castle. Stratford was heaven for the English majors and enthusiasts on the trip!
Next stop--London! Upon our arrival, we ventured to all of London's iconic landmarks. After our first experience on the London Underground, we emerged from the tube to see Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. We toured Westminster Abbey, making sure to stop at the C.S. Lewis commemorative marker in Poet's Corner. We anxiously waited at the gates of Buckingham Palace to catch a glimpse of the Royal Family, but unfortunately, they did not make an appearance. We then walked to Picadilly Circus, the heart of shopping in London. We all slept well on our first night in the big city and were anxious to see how far the London Underground could take us. On our second day we visited the Imperial War Museum to get a sense of what Tolkien and Lewis experienced first hand in World War I. We visited the World War II exhibit to see what life was like while they were writing their famous books. After some free time to explore, the day ended with a late night showing of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The literary masterpiece was even more magnificent as it came alive on stage.
We went to the British Museum to experience the cultures that inspired Tolkien. Even though we were only able to learn about Britain's history, the museum had endless artifacts to explore. The Tower of London ended our group exploration of London, where we were able to take the Beefeater tour to learn about the tower's one thousand years of history. We all stood in awe as we stared at the Crown Jewels and many extravagant scepters, spoons, and salt dishes. We concluded our visit to London with a free day to see the many things we could only dream of seeing. Our adventures included visits to Abbey Road, Platform 9 3/4, a football game, a showing of The Phantom of the Opera, The Natural History Museum, and lots of shopping and English tea.
Tomorrow morning we will board a ferry to embark on an adventure to France. Here we will see firsthand the battlefields where Tolkien and Lewis fought. After a few short days, we will head back to England to visit Oxford and Cambridge, the conclusion of our journey.
We cannot believe how quickly time has passed! We have seen so many places in such a short time, yet we still have endless discoveries ahead.
Your enthusiastic and adventurous bloggers,
Kelli and Morgan