We step out from the Metro amongst a sea of humans. Our orientation is askew. What street is this? No this is a corner. What streets are these? A family walking by, then a man in a suit, to our left is a crepe station, the smell of Nutella fills the air as a crowd gathers around it. We move to a clearing. Looking up, all the buildings look the same: same style, same height, same color. After stabilizing, we look beyond our immediate surroundings – there it is! The massive Arc de Triomphe! Its artistry and size easily stand out and it’s a wonder how we never noticed it from the onset.
A buzzing energy of continual movement has been occupying our senses for these past two weeks. We’ve left Switzerland and spent 3.5 days in Paris, 2.5 days in London, and are now in the midst of a 4 day stay in Edinburgh. Each city we’ve explored has been distinct and full of character, yet all have left us with inner conflict from feeling cultural overload. It’s more than just the feeling of not having enough time to see and do all that we want to see and do, it’s feeling like there are simply too many exhibits, museums, statues, architectural wonders, sculptures, and gardens to the point that we feel a slight compulsion to reject it all outright. When you are given the opportunity to a visit an iconic city and explore its streets, partake in its cuisine, and interact with its people, how should you then show proper respect to that city?
We’ve been sure to see the defining landmarks of each city—the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, and Buckingham Palace, but haven’t been to many of the main museums and statues that dot each area. Instead, we’ve enjoyed simply walking the streets of the city or visiting slightly more off-the-beaten path locations. After seeing a bit more of Geneva (specifically climbing up St. Pierre’s Cathedral) and bidding adieu to Switzerland, we met up with two more seagles, Alex of the Fyles Clan and his travel companion Sarah of House Schuette, in the city of Paris!
There we strolled along the serene tree-lined paths of the largest cemetery in the city, the Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise, and saw the graves of cultural giants such as Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison and Chopin. We then went to the small (and free) Marie Curie Museum and marveled at how, in just 40 years, Marie discovered two new elements on the periodic table, Polonium and the blockbuster Radium, coined the term radioactivity, and then applied her scientific discoveries to the medical field to treat disease and in diagnostic imaging. She was the first person to ever win two Nobel prizes.
From Paris, we moved onto London and explored the English sights and sounds The City of Tea has to offer. Among the more popular activities, we caught a glimpse of Lizzie’s house, perused in Borough Market, and had a delightful spot of afternoon tea. Lizzie’s house, aka Buckingham Palace, remains one of the densest locations in the world, as everyone from around the globe enjoys viewing [primarily] stationary guards and a giant concrete box. As we left for the market, we couldn’t help but notice the irony of how the Royal Family lives within a very strict structure that is almost void of personality, yet their life resides in such lavishness.
After being inspired at the Palace, we enjoyed our afternoon tea at The Wolseley, stepping into the posh lifestyle of the British Aristocrats. We felt at home, enjoying sparkling conversation on bureaucratic gossip while tasting a variety of scones, biscuits, and pastries. And of course, the afternoon tea. As we ingested the final sips of tea-soaked water, our refined mannerisms unavoidably waned into the undercity slumdogs that reflect our true souls. Our crooked laughs and crude jokes attracted the stares of folks nearby and we were deeply relieved as we finally paid our bill and exited the premises. Who knew being a Squilliam Fancy-pants required so much energy!
That’s all of now folks! We shall see ya in Edinburgh and beyond!