A Canadian Tourist in London

Westminster Abbey
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes
To ferne halwes, kwothe in sondry londes;
(Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, Prologue 12-14, “Then folk do long to go on pilgrimage, and palmers to go seeking out strange strands, to distant shrines well known in distant lands.”)

I’ve just returned from a day out as a tourist and I’m quite exhausted. It brings to mind what I’ll be facing over the next few months — and the fact that there won’t always be a relaxing sofa and a nice cup of tea to return to at the end of a strenuous day.  This is going to be an experience like no other. Even though I try to prepare as much as possible for the future by reading other people’s blogs, travel journals and gapyear messageboards, there’s no way to predict what’s going to happen — and that’s part of what is so exciting and nerve-wracking about this whole thing!

Sarah’s Goodbye Party
Sarah had her goodbye party on the night I arrived to her house, so things were pretty hectic! Her friends are all extremely fun people and we went out to a club in my old hometown of Kingston. Kingston is so different than I remembered it… not necessarily in a good way. After the club we went out to get food (good to know that latenight junkfood cravings aren’t an exclusively Canadian thing – sophie i’m looking at you and your mcdonalds runs!) and the streets were literally paved with trash and empty subway wrappers. But the party itself was a really good time — made so by the people who were there — and I got to meet Jason, who is two parts awesome and one part absolutely insane as he is working until the very hour before we leave. I’m lucky that I have this extra week to chillax before the flight to Nairobi. I get to adjust to the time difference and pretend to Sarah that I am super well organized (but it’s only because I had to make sure I had everything together before I left Canada — she didn’t get to see me running around like a headless chicken to OHIP, the banks, the currency exchanges, the outdoor equipment shops and all the other miscellany that went on in that last week!)

We Will Rock You (London version)

My parents are also down in London and yesterday we went out to the British Museum and to see We Will Rock You. The best part of the British Museum was seeing the remains of the Sutton Hoo – one of the most important Anglo-Saxon exhibitions. It brought me back to my Old English classroom days — only last year, I suppose! I stayed with them in the ritzy Waldorf Astoria before meeting up with Sarah and Alex the next day at Westminster Abbey.

Poet’s Corner and Buck House

I couldn’t come to London without visiting Chaucer’s grave! Westminster Abbey was the first stop of our London tourist day out, and since neither Sarah nor her boyfriend Alex had been to Westminster Abbey, they joined me on my pilgrimage to pay my respects to the man who ruined dominated my last year of university. The Abbey is incredible, and well worth a visit if you are in London. The tombs of Elizabeth I and the shrine of Edward the Confessor were two other highlights, along with the memorial to Isaac Newton mentioned in The Davinci Code. Sarah and I hunted for hidden tombs and secret passageways but failed miserably on our quest to fund our trip by discovering Abbey treasure.

Sarah and Alex in St. James's ParkAfter a quick nap in St. James’s Park, we moved on to Buckingham Palace, another place that we had never visited before. One of Sarah’s friends who worked in the Palace was able to secure us tickets (saving us £45 in total!) and we went around with our trusty audio guides to explore Liz’s house. And what a house! There was an amazing exhibition on her 60th wedding anniversary — the longest marriage in the history of the royal family. I wonder if Will and Kate will last that long?

Tomorrow marks 3 days until we board the plane to Nairobi. We’ve booked into an 8$/night hostel and packed and repacked and packed again! Seems like everything is in order. I miss everyone in Canada… send me an e-mail if you read this and have the chance!



  1. Mum&Dad September 15, 2007 / 8:05 pm

    Well, you are finally gone. It is hard to grasp that you will be so far away, for so long. You know how much we will miss you but we are grateful to be able to follow your exploits around the world by reading your blog and we will be avid followers of your adventures.

    Be careful, stay safe and have the best time. You will come home with a lifetime of memories and a learning experience like none other.

    We love you. Mum and Dad.

  2. Maria Felix September 17, 2007 / 12:49 am

    The last time I checked, Mr. Chaucer did not ruin or dominate anything. I believe he was the object of your devotion.
    Also, I love you.
    Also, I miss you.
    Also, looking at your gorgeous face all over England makes me feel like I should be in the background making bunny ears.

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