Thursday, July 3, 2008

Performance, Piccadilly and Peter Pan....

Today was our first performance day. The band and choir were both performing today, the choir first at Wesley Chapel (the first Methodist church built in England) and then both performed at the Victoria Embankment Gardens, next to the Thames. All of the performances were pretty good, but you could tell we hadn’t played together since Sunday. Also we had 137 band students crammed onto a very tiny stage, I don’t know how we did it, but we made it work and the kids played pretty well.

After the performance we were left again to tour the city in small groups for the rest of the day. We had a few things to get off our checklists so we really had to keep moving to get everything done. Our first stop was at Westminster Abbey to see the Evensong service. The main goal of this visit was to hear the choir sing, but the Lay Vicars were the ones performing instead of the full choir. At first it seemed disappointing, but they did not disappoint in their performance. Their sound was so pure and the acoustics in Westminster helped to make that musical experience defy comprehension. There was a full service and the kids did not really expect that, but I do think they enjoyed hearing that group of men sing.

The side entrance of Westminster Abbey

After Evensong we walked to Covent Garden to find some shopping and some dinner. We ended up eating at a small snack stand to try and save some money. The food was not good, but it kept us going for the rest of the evening I guess. The store we were looking for ended up being at Piccadilly Circus so we had to book it there before it closed. We were on a mission to find Wimbledon and Formula One items, both of which went unfulfilled. It was a bummer but we enjoyed the walk getting there.

One of the sights on the walk....Trafalgar Square

a Royal Guard on horseback

We had two final stops to make before the day was over and these would prove to be the most challenging both mentally and physically. The kids really wanted to see the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens which was not very close to Piccadilly at all, the other was the original Hard Rock cafĂ©, which is close to Kensington, sort of. We had to walk pretty quickly to get there before sunset and had a bit of trouble finding it once we were in the park. If you haven’t been to London before, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens connect to make one gigantic park. We asked several people how to get to Peter Pan and even the Police didn’t know what to tell us to help us get there quickly. By this time, everyone was exhausted and we just wanted to find the statue. After another 30 minutes around the park, we finally found it. It was worth it because the kids were really excited to see it. I wanted to get them out of the park before dark so I hustled them 30 min back out of the park and on to Hard Rock.

The ever elusive Peter Pan Statue in Kensington Gardens

We just went to the store, but no one really ended up buying anything because everything was so expensive. I had a hard time justifying a $30 US tshirt….there does come a point where you have to stop doing the conversions, but $30 for a tshirt is a little too rich for me.

We ended up taking a cab back to the hotel because we were so exhausted and had done so much walking in the last two days. Some of the staff and I met some guys from Scotland and England and we met them again for a beer and had a good time talking about our different cultures and our views on the world. It is really interesting to get another country’s perspective on America. It was a good ending to my time in London, Paris tomorrow!

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