Summer sojourn brightens British history
While on vacation in London over the summer, sophomore Mary Hierholzer poses for a photo in the Trafalgar Square. She says she absorbed the history and knowledge of the city during her trip, which included museum visits, landmark tours and theater shows.
Even though most summer vacations are aimed to create relaxation and leisure, a good dose of education brings benefits in many areas.
When I traveled to London this summer, my time in another country was not only savored, but used to soak up all of the history and knowledge possible. Between museums, plays and tours, my parents took me through various aspects of history.
For my family, museums are an absolute must, so the National Gallery was our first stop. Although I have never been a fan of medieval art, the huge, gold-plated iconic paintings astounded me. I found content with Italian Renaissance artwork, with rich color schemes and godlike features.
The highlight of the museum for me belonged to Sandro Botticelli - my favorite artist. His work of the gods, Venus and Mars, reflected into my eyes with the most glorious colors and strokes of his brush.
The Victoria and Albert Museum was filled with many exhibits, from ancient statues to fashion history. Although the two seem quite different, they connected in my mind - all about beauty, grace and structure.
A particularly impressive sight was a huge room absolutely packed with plaster recreations of notable statues and monuments. Each piece, created to scale, provided a wonderful opportunity to view such works up close.
Perhaps the best museum for historical artifacts from all over the world is the British Museum. Since the museum manages to hold so many artifacts, one may easily walk right past the Rosetta Stone without even realizing it, which I almost did.
As a fan of ancient Egypt, I enjoyed seeing cases of mummies and royal artifacts. Other exhibits included marble statues from the Parthenon, long double-handed swords from Vikings and a large collections of medals from throughout history known as the Medals of Dishounor.
When it came to theater, a trip to The Globe was impossible to refuse. At the reconstruction of the Bard's iconic theater, we saw his work, As You Like It. Although every Shakespeare experience for me has been enjoyable, to see this romantic comedy in London at his theater was an enthralling new experience.
The London Eye ferris wheel, located on the Thames River, offers an elevated view of the city, while the statue in the foreground epitomizes its history and culture.
The venue has an open roof in the center, and unfortunately, gray clouds which had been threatening London all day decided to burst into rain for the entire show. I pitied the groundlings watching Shakespeare from the ground level as raindrops beat down on their ponchos.
Not only spectators endured the cold, showery evening, but actors remained under a roof only partially. However, As You Like It continued despite drenched costumes. The clown-like character, Touchstone (Dominic Rowan), even brought out a special mini poncho for his jester puppet. Comical improvised comments about the weather appealed greatly to the audience - especially to groundlings.
The show continued to mesmerize its crowd with a beautiful interpretation of Shakespeare's work.
One pleasant morning after church at Westminster Abbey was spent in a Kensington garden where we ate a simple lunch, then walked along the River Thames.
Another enriching meal took place in Oxford at the pub where two of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein often met to discuss their writing.
Places such as The Tower of London, the Parliament building and Buckingham Palace offered informative tours with exclusive looks into the past.
"When I traveled to London this summer, my time in another country was not only savored, but used to soak up all of the history and knowledge possible." --Mary Hierholzer, '12
A tour of Buckingham Palace made for a surreal opportunity. An audio tour led us into grand ballrooms and sitting rooms in the home of Queen Elizabeth II. The chance to see these locations in person felt quite humbling, as the glorious rooms are usually not accessible. The tour concluded with a stroll into Her Majesty's extensive gardens.
After our extensive flight home, I found myself somewhat surprised to hear American accents again. Every day I miss the beautiful scenery, numerous attractions and unpredictable weather of London.