Merry ol' London. My love of history, Shakespeare, and British accents was finally culminating. It would be a trip filled with amazing sights, excellent theater, and my tourist-self reminding my actor-self NOT to say "Bond, Jill Bond" or "Cheerio".
After a train ride in which the lady sitting behind me was taking out her frustration on her laptop keyboard, I had arrived in London. My first stop after settling into my hostel would be the famous Abbey Road crosswalk and studios. But first, I had to get to my hostel, which was just off of Oxford St. If you're not familiar with Oxford St., it is one of the busiest shopping districts in London. I could feel my budget cringing at the thought of being so close to so many stores, but thanks to glorious WOW Air, I couldn't buy much because then I'd have to pay extra to take it on the airplane home. All was right with the world.
The thing about navigating Oxford St. is that it's sort of like going into battle with your fellow pedestrians. There's a Seinfeld episode in which George buys a super-puffy Gore-Tex coat, which I'm convinced would have been perfect armor for me on Oxford St.
Next up it was Abbey Road. Obviously the thing about the famous crosswalk that people forget is that it's still a working crosswalk with cars driving through and no traffic lights. But if you've ever met a millennial with an Instagram account, you know they'd rather die trying to get that prime Instagram shot than not try at all.
We all took turns asking each other to take our photo, while simultaneously trying not to get hit by an oncoming car. For any music fans out there, the cool thing about Abbey Road Studios itself, is that a lot of famous musicians have worked out of there. So while it's legendary because of The Beatles, lots of other artists have recorded there too.
The next day I had the opportunity to explore more of the city with a friend from college who resides in the area. Our first stop was the Notting Hill neighborhood. The film Notting Hill is one of my all-time favorite films, especially in the romantic comedy genre, so you can imagine my disappointment when the location of Hugh Grant's travel book store from the film is merely a tacky souvenir shop still banking on the success of the film. I walked in literally thinking 'You guys couldn't even have made this into an actual travel book store?'
Throughout the day we saw the Thames River, which I had no idea how to properly pronounce, Shakespeare's The Globe Theater, Big Ben, Parliament, and the Tower Bridge. I even had the opportunity to have more Guinness. It's the little things in life sometimes...
The following day I hit up the spectacular Westminster Abbey. It houses some of history's greatest monarchs and influencers, and when I say influencers I'm not referring to people famous on YouTube for prank videos. I'm talking Queen Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, Isaac Newton, and Charles Darwin, which means it's not only a celebration of leadership and religion, but also of science and innovation. The abbey is just about 1000 years old, and is now more friendly to science than the Republican party. I even got to say hello to the (priest, I think it was), who I'm pretty sure moonlights as a musician on the weekends with his man-ponytail that can conveniently turn into a man-bun when the occasion calls.
The Tower of London was something I had never actually looked up images of prior to going, and truth be told, I imagined literally just a giant tower surrounded by grass. But subtly is not the case here. It's in fact quite huge and looks more like an enclosed town with multiple buildings than a mere tower. They even had actors playing guardsmen there, and I genuinely wondered how many times they've wanted to punch a tourist. Something to remember is that this is a place where numerous people were beheaded throughout history and many of them carved their names or messages onto the walls of their respective prisons inside. So while it's an exciting place to see, there's also a lot of dark history there too, but thankfully there's a gift shop and ice cream stand to liven up the mood if need be.
My final big London activity was definitely the one I was most excited for: seeing Shakespeare's King Lear at The Globe. Though the original Globe Theater burned down, they built an exact replica which is still a working theater today. As an actor, this was a memory I'm really grateful for and inspired by. Though I work in LA, which is mostly on-camera jobs, there is nothing quite like the theater, especially Shakespeare. It was an excellent show and I'd recommend anyone looking to see theater in London to check it out. The Bard would be proud.
All in all, London was great. I learned that 'fetch' is not actual British slang, and I still haven't figured out how to properly say Thames.
Next up, Paris!
About the author
Jill Zwarensteyn is a writer, comedian, and television producer who has been featured on Amazon, truTV, The New York Times, Matador Network, BUST Magazine, Tiplr, ARTRPRNR Magazine, YourTango, Thought Catalog, GoMad Nomad, Mashable, The Daily Mail UK, the Cannes Film Festival, LaughFest, Women's Lifestyle Magazine, and the Funny Women Festival LA. For more info visit: http://www.jillzwarensteyn.weebly.com