Last night, I posted in the group chat that my friend’s dog looked “handsome in his gingham ascot.” To that, the response was, “She’s British already.”
Slowly, but surely, I feel England enveloping me. This morning, I listened to Arctic Monkeys and the Strokes while doing my red + gold makeup for Buckingham Palace. The only way I could have been more English is if I’d had a piping Earl Grey. (I actually saw his bust today.)
Instead of tea, I had a vanilla latte from Cafe Ritazza in London’s Victoria station. If King’s Cross / Pancras Station is D.C.’s Metro Center, then Victoria station is D.C.’s Union Station. There were a wealth of paths you could take from there. There was also a wealth of shops from which you could get food and drink, especially coffee.
I considered Caffè Nero and Patisserie Valerie. Still, I could try those anytime in my own neighborhood. So, I shot my shot with Caffè Ritazza. I paired my vanilla latte with a “hand-piped” Nutella croissant. Which, of course, lived up to the hype and dusted cocoa powder all across my lips.
The morning wasn’t all vanilla and Nutella, though. I got a bit mixed up on the Tube.
With a National Rail employee’s and bystander’s advice, I took an alternate route to Victoria. I thought I was so clever!
Until, of course, I transferred lines in the wrong direction. I’d had a hunch that maybe I hopped onto the wrong train. But, naturally, I wasn’t quite sure I had chosen incorrectly until I was actually in the car, speeding away in the wrong direction. I wondered if native Londoner’s could smell the confusion on me. They gave me looks that said as much.
I met my group for our Buckingham Palace tour right on time. (Noted: the building across from Buckingham was sleek and white with black trim. It reminded me of BBC Irene Adler’s apartment and guess what? It was. I’d taken one look at it and clocked it for Belgravia.)
I didn’t take a whole bunch of pictures, because you can’t! But I can say, by far, that my favorite part of the Palace were the royal gifts. All across the globe, prime ministers and chiefs and presidents and general heads of states offered Her Majesty the very best their country had to offer.
Except for America, of course. JFK literally gave Her Majesty a signed picture of himself in a nice frame. And honestly, after looking at all the hard work a lot of these (indigenous) artists put into their gift for England? I am not impressed by the U.S.’s gift. Sorry not sorry.
On the other hand, Mexico’s Tree of Life and Nigeria’s beaded throne have my heart. I was struck by how they blended native and European art together to signify allyship.
Since we were doing self-guided audio tours, I ended my perusal of the Palace with time to spare.
I got coffee with Sara and Megan, and ended up eating this hell of a sandwich.
I’ve seen a lot of things, but I’ve never seen olive bread.
In our stroll from Buckingham Palace to Parliament, we chanced upon Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. You could say…
we got a lot of bang for our buck.
And then came the Parliament tour. In form and function, Buckingham Palace is like the White House and Parliament is like the Capitol. Where Buckingham Palace is ornate and made for comfort, the Capitol building is strait-laced and all about giving glory to this (that?) great country.
Some naysayers, native and foreign, write off Buckingham Palace when it comes to attraction. But for me, visiting the Palace and Parliament helped give me a starting point for the culture I’ve loved, I’m absorbing and will be living in.