Upon entering the UK we were greeted by warm, smiling English-speaking people. To be honest, I was a little culture-shocked. Russian people often get a bad street rep for being "cold" and "unfriendly." I wouldn't agree with this statement; however, Russian people on a metro? That's a different story. If someone talks to you on a metro, one of two things are happening: 1-they want you to move so they have a better position for exiting or 2-they are drunk. Being on the Tube, we were bombarded with "please", "excuse me", and all sorts of pleasantries. And to make things even more strange: people actually lined up in straight, neat lines and boarded the metro in an orderly fashion. It was awkward. Additionally, the city seemed so...clean. As I was walking around pointing out the lack of graffiti and litter, I told Drew, "AND the sidewalks are so well-kept." Mid-way through this sentence, I tripped over a big pot-hole, #irony.
The hardest thing about being an American in London is fighting the urge to speak with a British accent. I don't know what it is about their fancy word choice and pronunciation that I find so seductive, but I quickly gave into the urge. Isn't imitation is the surest form of flattery? Let's just hope any eves-droppers thought so.
I am resisting turning this post into a detailed travel itinerary and bore everyone. I will instead mention the highlights. We were lucky enough to attend the London Temple which was a special experience for us. Due to the lack of temple in Moscow, it has been awhile since we were able to attend the House of the Lord. In Utah, we are so blessed with temples so close to us that it is easy to not truly appreciate this blessing. This is something I have really come to appreciate. While in London, we went to Wicked and Mamma Mia. There are only three times I can remember crying because I was so happy. Two of those times happened on West End: Les Mis and Wicked. Also, I finished the Harry Potter series while riding the Tube--this felt like the best way to celebrate being in London.
I have always been slightly off-putted by England and I have no idea where this started. Maybe I have some Boston Tea Party genes in my DNA. Upon further examination, I have narrowed down to the "royal" aspect of the UK. It just rubs the American in me the wrong way to hear about a Queen or people being knighted, A British man argued that the traditions of coronation and royalty are a symbol of how consistent the country has been through out the ages. This simple statement changed the way I viewing this nation. London is actually a stunning balance of the old and the modern. From the castles to the iconic Piccadilly Square, the buildings are unique and timeless. Additionally, I realized that England has given me some of my very favorite things: Harry Potter, Sherlock, America, and the Beatles. I quickly got over any faint ill feelings that I previous held and fell head over heels with London. It actually is now a place that Drew and I are seriously considering moving to.
Back to the U.S.S.R.