During summer break, my family and I went to Europe for a history field trip! Our first destination was the spectacular city of London. As the plane flew lower and lower, closer and closer to our destination, I saw green fields of grass with minuscule white, black, and brown dots, that I thought were sheep and cows. The land looked like a giant patchwork quilt made of different shades of green, all stitched together with tiny fences that separated the grassland. A few trees were scattered here and there over the flat expanse of earth. My breath was taken away at the hugeness of it all. This wasn’t what I had pictured, I had imagined something like New York City.
As the bus we rode rolled into the city, the honking cars, bright lights, and quaint telephone booths dazzled me! There was so much to see, smell and hear! As I stood on the sidewalk, clutching my camera, black taxicabs rolled by, honking. People chatted as they licked ice creams and walked dogs. Scents drifted from shops lining the busy street, boisterous voices escaped from open pubs. People hurried in and out of the London Underground, everything was moving. Could this possibly be the same place as the green pastures that I had seen from the plane? They seemed like two different worlds!
We could not go to London without going to the British Museum. As we approached the entrance, the smooth marble columns towered above us, casting a long shadow over the crowd assembled at the entrance. When we entered, I gasped. The vast interior chamber was shaped like a donut, a huge central column housed the extensive bookshop. The whole hall was made of smooth, white marble. As I walked farther in, my shoes clicking on the slippery floor, I looked up. A curved glass ceiling let light through, making everything glow slightly. The buzz of many voices echoed in the chamber. I felt overwhelmed. My mom grasped my arm, and pulled me to the left. I realized that it would be very easy to get lost, so I followed her brisk footsteps closely.
Our whole family moved towards the Parthenon Exhibit. We saw many pieces of marble from the Parthenon in Athens. During the war between the Turks and the Venetians, the Venetians decided to store gunpowder in the Parthenon. They thought that it wouldn’t be harmed because of its historical significance. They were wrong. The Turks dropped a bombshell on the Parthenon, and it exploded. The Parthenon was blasted apart, and the statues were damaged. Many people began to take the statues off the floor, and taking them off the ruins, selling them on the black market. In the British Museum, there were friezes of Greek warriors in full armor, and others depicting fights between centaurs and men. Unfortunately, nearly all of these were damaged, but with the help of computers and 3D scanners, we were able to see what the friezes would have looked like 2500 years ago.
Some people say that it was wrong for people to take the statues from the Parthenon. They say that the marble was fine where it was, and it belonged in Greece. Other people say that by taking the marble, they preserved and kept the statues in good condition. What do you think? Please add your comment below!
The next day, we went to a sushi restaurant where the sushi dishes were served on a small conveyor belt. The different colored dishes marching in formation looked like little people participating in a parade, and we were the onlookers. When the sushi that I wanted came around on the belt, I simply grabbed it. I opened the little plastic lid and tasted the sushi. It was a lot more satisfying than just ordering sushi and having it served by humans! After a while, the desserts started coming around. I had to try hard not to grab all of them at once!
Speaking of food, you can’t leave London without trying afternoon tea. As we entered the room, a wave of sweet aromas met my nostrils. All around us, there were small groups of people having afternoon tea. Manicured nails grasped the handle of the teacup with their pinkies outstretched. Painted lips talked vigorously as they ate and drank. Men wearing stiffly ironed suits laughed, and white teeth flashed. A pianist played a gentle melody on the piano in the center of the room. Waiters dressed in tuxedos walked around the room, carrying silver teapots. The rapid tapping of polished shoes met my ears. A waiter approached us and led us to our table. The surface was already laden with cloth napkins, large teacups, shiny silverware, and small flowery plates. In the center was a cup of sugar cubes and a small vase of dried flowers. Since I had never had afternoon tea before, it was a novelty to me. The whole room felt like it was prim and proper, I tried not to wrinkle the tablecloth. Even though I was trying to be polite and still, I bubbled with excitement. Soon, the teapots arrived. Steaming tea was poured into my teacup and I used the small tongs to add a cube of sugar to my tea. Once it had cooled a little, I picked up the cup and took a hesitant sip. The chamomile tea was a pleasant note on my taste buds. I tried to stick my pinky out to imitate the other ladies, but the teacup was too heavy and I nearly dropped the china!
After a while, the waiters arrived, bearing delicate towers of sandwiches, each carefully prepared with their crusts cut off. There were creamy egg mayonnaise watercress sandwiches which tasted smooth and fresh at the same time! Small chunks of curry chicken on a mini bagel made my mouth water. We slowly but surely worked our way through the tower, sipping tea as we went. After we had emptied the tower of its contents, the waiters quickly replaced it with a dessert tower. On the top layer, there were different unique sweets. Including a mini “hot dog” using long macaroons as the bun, and the “sausage” was a squirt of strawberry cream. There was also a small lemon tart, topped with fresh berries, and a tiny chocolate tower, made with a squirt of chocolate cream on top of a chocolate cookie, topped with a thin slice of dark chocolate. The middle layer was filled with raisin scones, on the bottom, was clotted cream and strawberry jam. As I tasted the hot dog, my teeth crunched through the crisp outer shell, and my tongue met the sweet strawberry cream with delight. When I sampled the lemon tart, my mouth puckered up at the sourness, but then I reached the berries at the top, and my mouth relaxed.
When we left the afternoon tea, it was raining. Large droplets fell from the sky, pattering off passing cars, sliding down roofs, and bouncing off umbrellas. The streets became small replicas of the Thames River as rivulets of water slid towards the gutters. It was impossible to walk anywhere, we didn’t even have an umbrella! We hired a taxi and headed off to the largest toy shop in the world, Hamleys. As our taxicab neared the entrance, even through the rain washed windows, I could see the large throng of people in the front of the store. We hurried out of the taxi and squeezed inside. My jaw dropped. A whirl of color and noise greeted me. The hall was filled with people and toys, crowded in every corner. Little boys begged their mothers for toys (My brother included), salespeople demonstrated new gadgets, and music played over the speakers. I felt slightly dizzy.
“Look!” my brother said excitedly, “There is a floor for Nerf Guns!!!!” “Look!” I said excitedly, “There is a floor for Harry Potter!!!!” My mom said we had to stay together, so we all went upstairs together on the escalator. There were 5 floors!! There were model cars, robots, drones, craft kits, magic kits, books, Nerf Guns (sigh), and a whole floor dedicated to Legos. Every kind of toy you can imagine was there. When we reached the Nerf Gun floor, my brother raced towards a shelf. As he stood in front of the guns, I saw the shelf of Nerf Guns reflected in his big eyes. His mouth opened in wonder. I saw the possibilities racing through his mind. He gave an evil grin. My dad and I sighed at the same time.