Happy New Year!
Well, happy Chinese new year! The Chinese New Year started on my birthday yesterday, and London has the second largest celebration outside of China according to their website. There were three main areas in London partaking in the festivities, and we were able to take part in some of that. This is the year of the Rooster and the Rooster happens to my Chinese zodiac sign, so we thought it was fitting and wanted to explore the event. More will be said about this part of the day later in the post.
First off this morning, we went to mass at Brompton Oratory Catholic Church. This church was beautiful both outside and in. Just like the majority of other churches I have visited in Europe, the grandeur cannot be overlooked. The amazing intricate details of the building itself made for an amazing backdrop to the mass. Check it out here: www.bromptonoratory.co.uk
I believe I found my new home in the form of Kensington Palace. Well, if the royal family would allow me to move in. I bet I could convince them. Or maybe I could pretend to be a palace guard with my new hat (I didn’t actually buy it, tempting though). Anyway, Kensington Palace is located on one side of Hyde Park. After seeing the Palace, we walked though the park.
There are two more stereotypical London-isms that I think of: birds flying everywhere and rain. Well, we got the pleasure of both today. It rained today for the first time since we got here, and we also saw quite a few birds walking through the park. We also got to see the Princess Diana memorial in the park. I would definitely recommend talking a stroll though the park-it was beautiful even in the winter.
We then walked along Oxford street, a well-known shopping area of London. We stopped in an organic soap/bath products store called Lush. While the products were great, the best part was that the person helping us had been to South Dakota! What a small world that we run into someone in London who has been there. Hardly anyone in the US has gone to South Dakota really, so that was fun meeting her.
Back to the Chinese New Year Celebration. Trafalgar Square is a unique part of London. London has many different “squares” that connect multiple streets. Typically, each square has some sort of small park or monument. Trafalgar has the National Art Gallery on one end with a good view of Big Ben looking down the street. This is where one of the Chinese New Year Celebrations was taking place. They strung lanterns, had booths, food vendors and a stage with performers. Unfortunately, it was raining when we arrived, but it was still fun to walk around and see a part of another culture come to life.
Due to the rain, and because we had some extra time before dinner with my aunt and uncle, we walked around the National Art Gallery. Housing paintings from the likes of Van Gogh, Monet, Rembrandt and others. Seeing the originals of some of their works was impressive to see. This was another one of the sights of London that I wasn’t sure we would get to, so I was excited when we had the time.
We spent dinner with my aunt and uncle. My uncle Jeff cooked Polenta, Italian beef, Brie, Blue Cheese, Mango and various breads. It was another great meal!
Tomorrow we head off to Edinburgh, Scotland. Can’t wait to see what is in store for us there!