Sunday, September 12, 2010

I met John Donne and made a Pilgrimage

Hi all!
I know I said I'd be better about this... but I've found that it's a lot like writing in a journal. If you miss a couple days and there is an excessive amount of stuff to write about, you get overwhelmed and don't want to do it.
Last week was incredible. I can't even begin to describe how amazing everything we did and saw actually was. Even pictures don't do any of it justice.
So last I wrote was last Tuesday. Wednesday we took our first "London walk" to St. Paul's cathedral. I was exceptionally excited to go to this cathedral for two reasons: 1. This was John Donne's cathedral! I love him. He was the Dean later in his life. They have an amazing statue of him swaddled in robes standing on an urn. This is awesome because Donne had commissioned his friend to draw him and this is what he wanted. The statue was made from the sketch and has no damage (even from the great fire) apart f
rom some markings on the urn. 2. I was also really looking forward to climbing the thousand or so steps it takes to get to the top of the cathedral to look out over London. It was SO many steps but totally worth it. Who needs the London eye?
We had a great tour at St. Paul's and saw beautiful Wren architecture and many famous tombs and tributes in the crypt. We also hung out for a bit in the whispering room on the way up to the top. If you whisper into the wall just right the person on the opposite side of the dome can hear you.
Friday we took our first "day trip"... not to be confused with "London walk" because day trips happen outside of London. We left at 7 am to Dover to see the Dover castle and Secret Wartime tunnels. This was one of the most incredible places I have ever seen in my life. The secret war tunnels were really interesting. We're studying the Great War here so I'm really starting to appreciate what a monumental part of Europe's history it actually is. I don't think we Americans fully grasp what it was like. The castle itself is breathtaking because it's right on the white cliffs of Dover and overlooks the English channel (Atlantic ocean). There are green hills and trees covering the grounds and some of the ruins that date back to the Romans. We climbed to the top of the castle (it was super windy and a little rainy) and took pictures.
After Dover castle we headed to Canterbury! Ok so I have never loved Chaucer's Canterbury Tales until I had to read the General Prologue here a long with a separate class that is studying pilgrimage and the history of Christianity coming into the UK. What a difference it makes to not only understand why they were going to Canterbury an
d then to see it with your own eyes. We stopped at St. Martin's church (the oldest church in England) and actually got in to look around. The surrounding grounds are covered with old graves. I loved it there. Then we walked around St. Augustine's ruins and then headed over to Canterbury Cathedral.
Canterbury Cathedral is different than St. Paul's but just as breathtaking (if not even more). It is much older and more Gothic. We had a really great tour here as well. Plus at the hourly prayer time I got to say The Lord's Prayer. That was really special to me (especially since Dr. Tate and I were the only ones that knew it). I could have stayed forever!
Saturday Andrew, Ben, Sara and I went to the Globe to take a tour. However, we got sidetracked at Burroughs Market and didn't get there in time to make the last tour. So we bought tickets to Henry IV part 1 for next weekend and went to the gift shop. It was still really neat just to finally be in Shakespeare's space.
Later that day we went to Les Mis. I can't do this justice. I can only say that it was perfection. And I would have payed fifty more pounds just to have "God on High" last another half hour.
I'm sorry this is all coming in such lump sums and that you're only getting such a small fraction of what is going on here. I wish everyone could experience it all at the same time with me.
I will say that everywhere is amazing, but it wouldn't be half as spectacular if I wasn't sharing it with such amazing friends. Some of the funnest times we've had have been on the tube or playing cards at night. (Even studying and reading for school has been fun... to an extent.) I'm really grateful to be here with this particular group of people and I know it's where I'm supposed to be.


  1. Oh Nikki, it sounds like you are having an amazing time. It's so awesome that you have such a strong literary background, it would make everything come to life in an interesting way.

  2. I'm SO proud of you for doing this, Nik!! (And I'm even MORE proud that you're documenting it with a blog.) Make sure you take a train up to Cambridge to go punting on the River Cam.
    love you!!!

  3. Keep the updates coming! It sounds like you are having an amazing time! What an awesome opportunity!

  4. On man, looks like you're having so much fun! I'm jealous. And I wish we had a good way to communicate. Love ya nightmare!
    P.S. I love your socks

  5. Oh and I keep your page open just to listen to your good music