Europe: Day 9

We woke up at 8am today to hit church at 10am.  We were out the door at 8:45.  We walked to the Spanish steps again and took
the subway to the end of the line, 
Bastini.  At Bastini, was another
20 minute walk uphill to church.  At
church, we were greeted by many Italian and English-speaking members.  We were given headphones, and one of the
missionaries sat in the back and translated everything for us.  This was my first experience with translation
in the church.  I was very grateful for
the accommodations they made for us.   The Sunday school lesson was on sacrifice and
how our lives should be living sacrifices. 
Also, that merely the act of doing something is not a sacrifice because
it was not necessarily made sacred.  For
true sacrifice, the intent of the act must also be for the Lord.  Great talk.

The ward was much bigger than we expected.  It looked like the chapel was filled with
maybe over a 100-150 members.  Afterwards,
we met up with a local member, Gabrielle, who described his experience with the
world cup.  Italy just won the world cup
a week before.  He said it was one of the
most exciting events of his life. 
Afterwards he drove around holding the Italian flag and others were doing
the same thing.  When they would see each
other, they would erupt in a patriotic yell all over town.

After church, we came straight home to change out of our
church clothes due to the hot weather.  I
still had to wear pants because we were going to visit various churches. 

We first visited the Pantheon.  This is the best surviving building from ancient
Rome.  It was converted into a church at
some point, but keeps much of its original splendor.  It’s amazing that the Roman people were able
to make this structure without any modern technology like computers back 2000
years ago.  The dome is perfectly round
and is the inspiration for most domes that we know about including the dome on
Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Capitol Building.  Inside the dome, the pattern of reliefs also
reminded me of the domes at MIT.

Next, we visited a church where Caravelli had painted
several scenes of Matthew.  One was him
getting called to as an Apostle, another was of him writing the book of
Matthew, and the final scene was his martyrdom. 
We also visited a church, where legend has it that Galileo visited right
before attending the Inquisition to renounce his theory that the earth revolved
around the sun. 

After our tour of local churches, we went to the Diocletian
Baths.  These were public baths in
Ancient Rome.  An enormous building that
allowed thousands of Romans to take baths together.   It seemed like it was more of a public
pool.  It said that many Romans would
visit the bath daily.  I can certainly
see why with the heat.  As with anything
else splendid in Ancient Rome, this heathen structure was turned into another
church.  The church was admittedly
magnificent.  In this church was also a
Brass Rod embedded in the marble floor. 
It was a Meridian that pointed north. 
There was a hole in the ceiling that caused a laser like sunbeam to be
cast down on various places on the line depending on the season.  There were astrological signs next to parts
of the line that would be visible in the corresponding seasons.  This church also housed a statue of Jesus by
Rafael.

Finally, we took the subway to the Villa Borghese which is
like the Central Park of Rome.  It was a
bit anticlimactic until we got to the roller bladers.  There was one old man (probably in his 50’s
or 60’s) that would tie a pair of ropes parallel to the ground about 1.5 feet above the ground,
and about 10 feet
apart.  At first, I thought he was going
to try and jump over both ropes (which would be quite a feat for even a young
man.  It ended up that he would speed
toward the rope as fast as he could, then do the splits, skidding across the
ground and ducking underneath both ropes as he spun around.  I can not express my disbelief when I first
saw this.  I think Tenille got it on
video.  Ask her to see the clips. 

We got home fairly early today (around 8:30) and talked to
Caleb via Messenger.  They are going to
the boat today which made Tenille nervous as Caleb has a dangerous affinity for
water.  Tenille also did our laundry ,
the old school way in the sink, then we hung up all our clothes.  I finally got to use my boy scout knots.  I used a clove hitch and a taut line.  It may not be the right knots, but it looks
like it’s doing the job.  We’ll see if
the clothes are still off the ground tomorrow.

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Europe: Day 8

Today, we hit a smorgasbord of Roman sights.  We started off with Gelato.  (Which I think is just Ice Cream in Italian,
but Tenille thinks there’s a difference between Gelato and ice cream. )  We then walked to various plazas which are
just open areas, usually adorned with an obelisk or statue.  We saw the Trevi Fountain which was enormous!
 Much larger than I thought, and there
was so much water gushing out of it.  We
then made it up to the Spanish Steps and walked around super name brand stores
like Gucci, Prada, Christian Dior, etc. 
We ate lunch at one of the many Italian restaurants in the area.   Tenille had a pasta in cream sauce, and I
had  fettuccine in  a red meat sauce.  Surprisingly, Tenille really enjoyed it,
despite her luke-warmness to pasta. 
Hopefully, this will mean more pasta nights at the Hyun home.   We took a subway to the Colosseum and met up
with our tour group.  I was mildly
disappointed with our tour guide.  At the
beginning, she invited us to ask questions. 
When I started asking, she told me that she’ll tell me all of those
things later.  Eventually, I stopped
asking questions. 

We went through the Forum which are ruins from ancient Rome
thousands of years ago.  There were ruins
of temples, senate chambers, etc.  One
particular ruin of interest was the Temple of Vestia.  This is where the term Vestial Virgins came
from.  There was a flame kept alive
constantly in Rome by 30 virgins.  These
ladies typically came from high society and it was quite an honor to be a
guardian of the flame.  However, if they
broke their vow of chastity, they would be buried alive.  After 30 years of service, they can choose to
get married if they chose. 

We also saw Capitolino Hill which is where we get the word
Capitol from.  We also saw Palatino Hill,
which is where we get the word Palace from. 
This Is where the Roman Emperors had their palace.  As we were leaving the Palatino Hill area,
Tenille had to use the restroom badly. 
We were warned that Rome was not a public toilet friendly place.  After walking half a mile, we finally found a
public restroom in a secluded area of the Forum.  After she was done, she came strutting out
and gave a big, audible sigh.  She
exclaimed to me, “ahhh, I’m a new woman!” 
To her horror,  there was another
man standing not more than 15
feet in front of her. 
He obviously heard her declaration of relief because he quickly turned
around and started chuckling to himself. 
Embarrassed, we quickly left the area.

Before heading home, we visited San Pietro in Vincoli, which
is a churched that houses what are believed to be the chains that held St.
Peter.  Legend has it, that there was
another chain that held Peter in Africa. 
An angel came down and miraculously unbound him from these chains and
helped him escape.  These chains were
given as a gift to the church.  Legend
has it, that when these chains were put together with the chains that held St.
Peter in Rome, they were miraculously linked together the next morning.    

On the way home, the weather had turned afoul on us, and we
could hear thunder roaring overhead.  It
was nice, because the weather turned very cool. 
However, we were still more than a mile from home, and ominous clouds
overtook us quickly.  We tried to find a
bus station, but didn’t know which bus to take back to our hotel.  We ended up walking back, despite our whining
feet, and ate dinner at a mediocre, but expensive restaurant. 

Europe: Day 7

We woke up early for our last day in London.  We wanted to squeeze in  one good London site before Hampton
Court.  It was between the Winston
Churchill Museum and the Sherlock Holmes Museum.  It sounded like such a good idea at the
time.  Outside the museum, we were
unenthusiastically greeted by a poor man in a British Policeman’s uniform.  We bought our tickets inside the gift shop,
and went upstairs.  It was a small
home.  One of the rooms looked occupied
by a man in a smoking jacket, so we opted to check out a side room first.  The old man in the smoking jacket meandered
over awkwardly and quietly told us that pictures on the walls were all the
criminals that he had put away.  I looked
at the portraits on the walls, but returned my confused gazed back at him.  This old man was claiming to be Sherlock
Holmes.  I wish I paid more attention
when I read the books, so I could grill the poor guy and make him earn his
money, but instead, I just smiled politely recognizing the awkward situation we
were both in.   We quickly looked up and down 2 story home
fairly quickly , whizzing by most of the Sherlock Holmes paraphernalia.  We did get to dress up like Sherlock with the
hats, pipe, and magnifying glass.  At the
end of the day, it was an expensive dress up 
picture we got from this experience at 12 pounds.  Next, we made it out to the Waterloo train
station, to grab our train to Hampton Court. 
Hampton Court is a palace about 30 minutes outside Central London.  Tenille got a yogurt for lunch, and I grabbed
a chicken and steak pie.  The pie ended
up being a coincidence, because as it turns out meat pies were often made at
Hampton court.  It must be a fairly
traditional English dish (which Tenille and I both enjoyed). 

Hampton Court  ends up
being a Palace built by a priest back in the day.  Henry VIII (of 6 wives fame) took the palace
from him  and  also ended up renouncing the Pope as head of
the Church in England, and established himself as the head of the new Church of
England.  The palace was humongous.  In its hay day, it would feed on a daily
basis up to 600 courtesans.  This meant
an enormous  staff to attend to their
needs.  We  went through their maze, saw some royal teens
play “royal tennis” which is quite different from non-royal tennis, and looked
through some of the rental apts given in the 20th century to widows
and significant English people as a symbol of charity of the monarch.  Our final stop was a history exhibit, and I
got lost in reading about the sordid tale of Henry VIII’s wives.  Tenille called excitedly over to me to tell
me that we had 5 minutes to get to our train. 
The train station was about half a mile from the palace across a river.  We started jogging.  Good thing we were both in reasonable shape,
because the train closed its doors moments after we boarded.

We got back to our Hotel, collected our bags, and left for
the airport.  We were going to be
arriving late in Rome.  I was slightly
concerned, because I was told that Rome had a lot of pickpockets and
thieves.  On the plane, I thought what I
might do if pickpocketed or robbed.  It’s
fun to think that you’d be some kind of superhero, but I’d likely cooperate
with any mugger, and just try to keep myself and Tenille safe.

When we got to the airport, our Plan 1 was to catch a train
to Termini Station (which is the central train/bus station in Rome), then catch
a cab to our bed and breakfast near the Pantheon.  Our plan 2 was to catch a bus to Termini
station, then catch a cab to our B&B. 
Our 3rd and least desired plan was to catch a cab – but only
a white cab which is an official cab sanctioned by the government.  There are apparently, non-official cabs which
have been known to rob tourists and drop them off in the middle of nowhere. 

When we got to the airport, it was past midnight.  We got our bags and started for the train
station.  Half way to the station, it
occurred to us that we were the only ones there as far as the eye could
see.  We went back to the airport
assuming that the train station was closed. 
Back at the airport, there was a sign that assured us of its
closure.  Outside of the airport, an
American couple stopped us to ask us if we were interested in sharing a
cab.  They were going to pay 80 Euros,
and they needed more people to share the cab with.  Although this is much more than we were
hoping to pay, we consented and told them we were interested.  The cab driver looked at us, and told us that
there was not enough room.  He picked an
elderly couple and took them instead.  
He was not driving an “official cab”. 
Something seemed fishy.  Tenille
later told me that she suspected they were getting scammed.  Time for plan 2 – we needed to find some
buses.  Tenille started asking people
where the bus station was.  She started
leading us down a narrow roadway by the parking lot.  It was slightly unnerving as there was no
sidewalk and it was past midnight.  Now
and then, cars would pass us.  After
about a quarter mile down the road way, we emerged at the garage exit, where
cars pay for their parking and leave to get on the freeway.  It was all automated, so there were no
attendants to ask the ridiculous question, “is there a bus stop around here?”  Disheartened, we moped back to the
airport. 

At the airport, I asked some people, if they could help me
find buses.  In broken English, he told
me that the buses are probably not running any more.  He said that I should grab a taxi.  I told him thank you, and started to
return.  As I was walking away, he called
to me, and told me gravely that I should ONLY take a white official taxi.  The other ones are BAD.

With that, we decided to look for a cab.  Outside at the taxi stand, there were no
official cabs that we could see.  A gruff
looking Roman man came up to us, and asked if we needed a taxi.  Tenille asked if he had an official
taxi?  The man pointed to a white tag
around his neck and put it in Tenille’s face indicating that he was
official.  Tenille asked how much for the
fare to the Pantheon?  70 Euros.  At this point, we had no other options (aside
from sleeping at the airport).  We
agreed, and he pulled up his cab… in a non-official car.  It was just a black sedan.  We were both a bit confused, but continued to
put our luggage in his trunk and before we knew it, we were on a wild cab ride
in an unofficial cab.  The ride, as
expected was insane.  We were anywhere
between 140-180 km/h.  He would come up within 5 feet of the car ahead of
him and tail them until they moved out of the way.  About half way through the trek, we started
down a windy path that seemed like old cobblestone streets, not the huge,
modern London highways that we were used to. 
It crossed my mind that he could be taking us to his home to torture us
and extort money from us and our loved ones. 
But, it was more likely that we were just taking a short cut.  Tenille and I gripped each other’s hands,
eyes wide awake at 1 in
the morning as we wound through Rome. 
Eventually, we saw the signs for the Vatican, then moments later passed
by the Pantheon.  He wasn’t able to
actually drive up to the street where our B&B was, but he got us within a
block.  He let us out, we paid him, then
we dragged our bags on cobblestone streets for a block with restaurants still
buzzing with patrons.  The address we
were given was an unassuming door in the middle of several outdoor
restaurants.   The owner let us in.  She looked in her younger 30’s and a tad
annoyed at how late we arrived.  We
finally got to our room.  It was hotter
than an oven.  We eventually discovered
that it was hotter than outside.  They
claimed to have air conditioning, but the A/C switch was more for looks than
function.  The first night, we made the
mistake of keeping the windows closed (to keep the A/C in), and barely slept a
few hours due to the incredible heat. 

Europe: Day 6

Today I, Tenille, went touring again while Don increased his knowledge of the art of negotiation.   The day-long tour called for visiting Westminster Abby in the morning followed by a visit to Windsor Castle.  Since Don and I already visited Westminster Abbey on Monday, I convinced the tour guide to allow me to visit the London Eye which is nearby the Abbey whilst the others toured Westminster Abbey.  This was agreeable to her, so I set off for the London Eye on foot over the Thames River.  Everything went as planned.  I made it to the London Eye, bought my ticket, and was swiftly boarded on the London Eye.  The London Eye is a huge Ferris wheel-like structure with huge glass capsules in the form of an eye.  Around a dozen people are escorted into each capsule as the wheel continues to rotate at a slow pace.  The entire orbit lasts about 30 minutes allowing for splendid views of London on a clear day, and this day was no exception.  The weather was gorgeously sunny, and the eye could see for miles from every side of the capsule.  Although impressive, I don’t think I will opt in for the ride the next time we visit London. 

My journey finished with 30 minutes to spare, so I foolishly found the nearest underground station and headed for Leicester Square with the intention of purchasing theatre tickets for the upcoming evening.  Upon arriving in Leicester Square, I became very disoriented and wandered around for a bit.  Finally I was able to find the TKTS ticket booth which sells discount theatre tickets for same day shows.  Unfortunately there was a queue (line), and it was time for me to meet the group.  I hurried to find the underground, but I was completely turned around.  I tried asking for directions, but the people I asked were of little help.  Finally in a panic, I hailed a cab.  The meeting time was 11AM, and it was 11:05AM.  Traffic was terrible!  I felt taunted as the cab meter was moving quicker than the actual cab.  In England you are charged per time spent in the cab rather than distance.  The cab driver must have thought I was crazy because I kept asking how far and if it would be faster to walk.  He explained that we just needed to get through three very crowded lights before being able to make our way to the Abbey in a swift fashion.  I waited as patiently as I could until we arrived in front of Westminster Abbey at 11:15.  I paid the driver (6 pounds for less than 2 miles!) and began running.  I didn’t know where the bus was located, so I just headed in what I thought would be the right direction.  Luckily, I found the woman in charge only to find out that they had just decided to leave me.  Had I been a couple of minutes later, I would have been out-of-luck.  I apologized to the rest of the group as I boarded the bus feeling like a complete idiot.

The bus ride was uneventful, and I was able to get some shut-eye.  We arrived at the City of Westminster and had lunch at a very cute corner restaurant.  As with all of the meals thus far we were all served the same dish.  Today’s dish was a very rich spinach and cheese tortellini pasta dish with an alfredo sauce.  Talk about a gut-filler!  It was so dense that I couldn’t finish even half of it.  Although I rarely order pasta, I actually really enjoyed this dish.  For dessert we had a selection, and I chose the coconut and lemon brule.  It was incredibly tasty!

After lunch we headed off to Windsor Castle.  Our tour guide gave us a bit of history regarding the castle on our way.  It is the favorite of Her Majesty the Queen, and she frequents the palace on the weekends.  As this was a weekday, the queen was not in.  As with the Buckingham Palace, this is made evident by the Union Jack flying rather than the royal flag.  Inside the walls of the castle, we walked up to the Stateroom Apartments.  Just as we arrived, there were sirens and police telling everyone there was an emergency as they hurried the people out of the apartments.  In all of the commotion we lost one of the men in our group.  We tried to find him but to no avail.  Our tour guide was stunned at the emergency, and later she told us that in her 20+ years as a tour guide, that had never happened.  We never found out why they were evacuated, but finally after being escorted down the driveway, we were able to enter. 

Teresa and I opted to see the Doll House while the others went straight to the Stateroom Apartments.  The line for the Doll House was considerably longer, but I thought it was worth it.  The doll house was awesome!  One of the queens had it built because she loved miniature things.  The doll house was a small replica of some of the rooms from the Hampton Court Palace.  The details were amazing!  The furniture, the household objects, the paintings, and everything in the doll houses were so small yet so realistic.  They even had books in the library that had been signed by important people.  It was very cool!

The staterooms were a sight to see as well.  I quite enjoyed looking at the art and very old furniture.  We listened to an audio guide informing us of the different aspects of each room.  One of the most memorable rooms for me was the cavalry room, which had swords and guns lining every part of the walls.  There was armor for both men and horses on display.  Very cool!  The other interesting fact was that the queen and king had separate bedrooms, sitting rooms, closets, etc that were decorated in a different fashion.  Teresa and I rushed through the state apartments as we were running out of time and wanted to visit the abbey.  We hurried down and walked through the abbey, which was neat.

We barely made it in time to meet our group to walk down to the bus.  We hit the restrooms, and I bought a miniature double-decker bus/taxi cab combo toy for Caleb.  We waited on the bus as we were missing one woman.  After waiting for some time, she finally came running.  After having to wait for two other people that day, I didn’t feel as stupid about being late in the morning.

I met up with Don at the hotel, and we headed out to Leister Square.  We looked at the TKTS booth, but couldn’t find anything that interested us.  We decided to see The Da Vinci Code in the theatre instead.  It ended up costing us 25 pounds, which is $45.  Yiikes!  You have assigned seats, and you get to choose either the 1st floor or the balcony.  Regardless, that’s a pricey movie.   London is so expensive!  Anyway, we ate at a French restaurant before watching the movie.  The service was not so good, but the food made up for it.  I found out that I like green olives after all.  I always thought they tasted gross, but the ones I had at the restaurant were yummy, so maybe I’ll give them another chance.

The movie was really good.  It made for good conversation afterwards.  Like I mentioned before, Don just finished reading the book, so he was able to fill me in on the parts that I didn’t quite understand.  There was one part in the movie that was particularly suspenseful, and the scary, bad guy jumps out.  I don’t know if I was breathing out at the precise moment or what, but I let out a scream.  Don looked over at me laughing.  The people we were sitting next to were laughing as well.  It was pretty embarrassing, and I couldn’t stop laughing.  It was neat to see some of the places that we’ve visited on our trip or will visit.  For instance, Westminster Abbey’s tribute to Newton and the Chapter House were in the movie.  And, the Louvre in Paris is a big part of the movie, so it will be fun to see it.

After the movie, we roamed around the Piccadilly Circus and Leister Square area which is quite a happening place at night.  We saw a huge arcade with every arcade game imaginable.  There was a particular horse racing game that was popular.  Don and I watched as a few men competed against each other.  Basically they made up a  horse and competed against each other.  The only part of playing the game was hitting a “whip” button as the horses raced around the track.  They would do a sort of “quick, quick, slow” motion as they hit the button.  That was it!  There didn’t seem to be any skill or excitement to the game, yet there were quite a few men playing and multiple observers.  Don and I were puzzled by the whole thing, but maybe we were missing something.  Anyway, after taking in the nightlife of London, we retired to our hotel.  We called Don’s parents to talk to them and Caleb.  Caleb basically says “Hello”, “Goodbye”, “Hi Dada/Mama”, and “I Love You.”  It’s so nice to hear his voice even though our conversation is obviously very limited.  He seems to be doing great with Don’s parents although he’s having a harder time with Don’s grandma.  Hopefully it will get better as he gets used to her more.

Europe: Day 5

I, Tenille, am writing the journal entry today since Don
doesn’t have much to say about his first day of conference except that it was
long, and he’s tired. He stayed up late
last night working and writing yesterday’s journal, so he’s sleeping now. Don is a much better writer than I, but I’ll
do my best.

We set off at 8:30am on the long 2.5 hour bus ride to the
city of Bath. Along the way, we passed
by Notting Hill and other ritzy streets including the wealthiest street where
the most expensive house in London (2 apartments joined into 1) is valued at 30
million pounds! Yikes! Our tour guide informed us of other points of
interest, however I fell asleep about 30 minutes into the ride. About an hour later, we pulled into a rest
stop.

The last hour of our trip, our tour guide explained more of
the history of Bath. It has a legend as
well as a true story to it. The legend
goes that the king’s son had leprosy and as such was banned from the palace to
care for the swine in the fields. The
pigs had many sores on their backs, however he noticed one day after the pigs
had been rolling in the mud, that their sores had disappeared. He figured that it must be the mud, so he
bathed himself in the mud that was formed from the hot springs and by so doing
cured himself of the leprosy. He
returned to the palace and was welcomed with open arms and later became king.

The real story of Bath includes periods of extreme
popularity and outright neglect. In
ancient Roman times, high society enjoyed the mineral springs at Bath and paid
tribute to Minerva, goddess of the hot springs.
Eventually they were forgotten only to be put back on the map in 1687
when Queen Mary who was previously unable to bare children, became pregnant
after bathing in the baths. A few years
later Queen Anne found the water eased her gout. This news spread and with the help of John
Wood (father and son architects), Beau Nash (who organized the daily regimen of
the aristocratic visitors) and another man (whose name escapes me), the city
quickly expanded into a very fashionable
city. About 2 million people visit the
city each year to enjoy the street shopping and fun atmosphere.

After our tour of the Roman Baths, we had lunch and then were sent off to tour/shop on our
own for a little over an hour. I walked
up and down the main shopping street only to find that the prices were very
expensive. I ended up purchasing a
bubble blowing gun for Caleb (3 pnds), a thermos cooler for Caleb’s milk cup (1
pnd), plastic plates for Caleb (1 pnd), and 2 cool looking shells for one pound
each. Maybe I’m being too cheap, but I
see the same things that I can buy in the US except at a much steeper price, so
I figure I’ll save my money for Rome and Paris souvenirs.

We gathered on the bus to head to dinner just outside of
London. The hotel we ate at, Great
Fosters, was absolutely magnificent. It
was built as a royal hunting lodge in 1550 AD, and has been restored into a
country hotel. The architecture was
so….well….old! The front door in and of
itself was a site to see as it was built with a small arched door inside a
larger door so as to allow only 1 person to pass through at a time. It was deliberately manufactured that way as
a defense to potential attackers. We had
a lovely dinner at a massive table that seated all 23 of us at a time with room
to spare. My favorite food were the
petit fours (pronounced “petifors”) that were served with coffee and tea. They were basically truffles in white, milk,
or dark chocolate. Yum! After dinner we gazed around the gardens and
caught a better view of the enormous building from the outside. I would have loved to tour the structure.

I had great company on the tour as I visited with 3 other
ladies, one of which is LDS and her husband is the CEO of Cumorah Credit Union
in Las Vegas. The criteria for
membership is membership in the church.
I had no idea there was such a credit union. The other two ladies are from the Midwest,
and we had a great time talking. My main
travel companion, Teresa Davies from Illinois, decided that she would try the
coffee at dinner even though she doesn’t drink coffee with the warning that she
would probably talk the whole way home as a result of the caffeine jolt. She wasn’t kidding as I “enjoyed” listening
to her for 45 minutes on the way back into London. She readily admitted that she had talked the
whole way and she joked that I would “tell my husband about the lady who talked
the whole way home.” I somewhat chuckled
but I was so tired by then that I think we both knew it was a true statement. I had such a headache from listening to her
combined with motion sickness from looking at her rather than out the front of
the bus, that I thought I was going to lose my dinner when I stepped off the
bus. I had the same sensation as when
you step off a 7-day cruise journey….except for instead of the ground appearing
to move side-to-side, the ground appeared to move up-and-down in bumps. I hurried back to our room, took a Tylenol,
and I’m feeling somewhat better. The
motion sickness has died down, but the headache is still apparent. I’m hoping sleep will take care of it. Speaking of which, it is 12:30, so I’d better
be off to sleep. Tomorrow we head to
Windsor Castle, so I’m really excited.

As for Don, his excitement for the day was that he ate some
Haggis for breakfast.

Europe: Day 4

We woke up early this morning to try and squeeze in Westminster abbey before the British Museum walking tour at 11am. We arrived at Westminster abbey about 9:15am. Our guide books said that they open at 9:30, but they were opened and letting tourists in by 9:15. This was great because later we found out that it got crowded very quickly, but we were able to maintain a good lead in front of the 9:30er’s. Westminster Abbey was very impressive. The Abbey is in the shape of an enormous cross and you enter in from one of the sides. It held over a thousand years of Kings, Queens, and other honorable countrymen. On top of the royalty, the building itself inspires awe. The ceiling were enormously high, and there was one particular area, where the intricacy of the ceiling design was considered a wonder of the world. It was in this building most English monarchs were baptized, coronated, and buried. Furthermore, it was in this building that Handel’s Messiah was played for King George II, and during the Hallelujah chorus, he was so moved that he was compelled to standup, which is a tradition that continues to this day during the singing of the Hallelujah chorus. This building also houses the tomb of Sir Isaac Newton (whose tomb plays an integral part of the Da Vinci code), a memorial to Shakespeare (and other great English authors) as well as Winston Churchill. It is a building filled with the Britain’s finest.

At 10:30, we hurried to the tube to get to the British Museum by 11. As we were arriving, Tenille had a concerned look on her face. She was not sure if the tour started in the museum or at a tube stop. Once in the museum, we could not find the tour group, so we opted for the audio highlight tour. The British Museum is perhaps unmatched in its collection of significant relics. Prominently displayed, was the Rosetta stone, which was a stone discovered in the 1820’s that had Egyptian text translated into 2 other languages. Until 1820, Egyptian hieroglyphics was a mystery to the modern world. This Rosetta stone allowed us to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics, which caused a revolution in Egyptian studies. Suddenly thousands of scrolls that remained a mystery were being translated.

Also, we saw several mummies, a dehydrated man, a bunch of old vases, and parts of Greek buildings. It was curious that most of the prized collection were actually not British at all. For instance, there were large sections of the Parthenon (ancient Greece). The workmanship was incredible, especially for sculptures created several hundred years BC. It wasn’t until the 17th-18th century until we again saw sculptures with so much detail. You could see the strain of each muscle as these Greeks rode horses, fought off Centaurs, drew bows and arrows.

This made me wonder – don’t the Greeks want this back? The British basically went all around the world taking these enormous relics to store them in their British collection. I’m not sure how I’d feel if I one day saw the Lincoln memorial inside the British Museum. I would probably want it back. Worst case, I’d settle for leasing it to them. Maybe we can take Stonehenge and set it up at the Seattle Art Museum.

We ended up getting about ¾ through the tour. We had clearly over done it on our walk the previous day. My legs were starting to cramp up. Tenille’s feet were hurting. After some mutual whining, we decided to give up and go get some lunch. We ended up in Chinatown and had some British dim sum. British dim sum is more or less the same as American dim sum, except at the end you pay in pounds. Unfortunately, you pay about the same number of pounds as dollars, so it’s about 1.8 times more expensive.

We arrived back at the hotel, took a nap, then got dressed up for the credit union reception. We had a lovely dinner (duck breast), and got home about 9pm. We were able to get my our IM working with my dad, and saw Caleb via the webcam running around back in Seattle. Tenille almost cried again. It was fun to see him, and it was a bit sad. We both miss him terribly. Only 12 more days.

Europe: Day 3

I had no trouble falling asleep (after some minor contention regarding our pillows). However, I woke up at 4am, and was not able to fall back asleep. After an hour and a half of lying in bed with my eyes open, I decided to get up and read the Da Vinci Code in the bathroom (so as not to disturb my sleeping beauty). 6 hours later, at 11am, I finished the book, and Tenille finally woke up (after 14 hours of sleep). We got ready for church and started hoofing it to the church building about 1:30. We found the sacrament starting time of the ward on the Internet church site (2:50pm). We trekked across Hyde Park (about a mile), and got to the building about 2:15. We found a single’s ward holding sacrament meeting, so we snuck into a side room off of the gym to eat the sandwich, cheese, and crackers we bought the night before. At 2:40, we noticed all the singles were filing out of the sacrament hall, so we went in and sat down for the next session. After about 15 minutes of watching people slowly drift out, we finally asked a missionary that was lingering if there was another meeting in this building. Sadly, we were misinformed, and missed the sacrament meeting. Disappointed, we gave ourselves a quick tour of the building (which was the London stake center), and excused ourselves.

We had to get back to the Hotel because Tenille was starting to develop blisters. On the way back, we saw Prince Albert’s monument in Hyde Park. It was pretty big and ornate. I wondered if every royal person gets a monument like that… Because of her feet, Tenille had to take off her shoes in walk through the grass all the way through the park. We changed out of our church clothes at the Hotel and went back to Hyde Park. We saw the Kensington Garden and parts of the Kensington Palace. The Kensington Palace was smaller than we expected. Since it was Sunday, we just looked through the free parts, which mainly consisted of the gift shop and a foyer with a few paintings in it.

In the gift shop, a lady asked the shopkeeper how much a tea set cost. (About 59 pounds.). She then asked if the tea set was used in the palace. Tenille thought that this was a ridiculous question. She thought that if a tea set was actually used in the palace, it would cost much more. In my mind, I thought maybe it might cost less. It’s used. Then we started talking about perhaps opening a gift shop in our own home. After friends would visit, we ask them to kindly visit the gift shop on their way out. Perhaps we could sell replicas of things used in our home. We could also sell items that we have used in the Hyun home. Depending on if you subscribe to Tenille’s theory or mine, these items may cost more or less than the replicas.

We then visited the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. It was a big O on the ground, with water bubbling up on one side of the O, then flowing down both sides, and meeting in a pool at the bottom of the O. It was peaceful, but certainly more subtle than Prince Albert’s enormous monument.

Next we walked to St. James Park again and took some pictures in front of Buckingham Palace. The queen was not in. Apparently, when the queen is in, there’s a special royal flag that is flown on top of the palace. Today, it was just the Union Jack. By this time, our feet were starting to protest. Tenille voted for the train, but I thought it’d be a good idea to get ourselves in shape for the upcoming 2 weeks by toughing it out and walking back. Note: training for a trip should take place BEFORE going on the trip. It was a painful 2-3 mile hike back to the hotel. I tried to keep my whining to a minimum since it was my brilliant idea. On the way back, we decided to call Caleb at a public phone because we suspected that even toll-free calls get charged at our hotel. The first phone booth contained pornographic flyers, so we kept on walking. We came upon a series of 5 phone booths. None of them had phones in them, except for the last one. We both squeezed into the tiny booth and I started dialing my folks with our phone card. We figured out quickly that this phone booth had probably doubled as a urinal in the very recent past. Nevertheless, we were determined to talk to our son in our tight phonebooth/urinal. Sadly, we got the answering machine. When we stepped out of the booth, we noticed that we were in the Northwest corner of Hyde park, otherwise known as Speaker’s corner. This was the same corner used by many missionaries in the past to proclaim the Gospel. Return missionaries from London often talked of this corner, where they got up on their briefcase, and preached to the passersby. Today all seemed quiet… except for a distant corner where there was a tightly gathered group of people. Tenille and I approached to investigate, and we heard people screaming at the top of their lungs. It was a man and woman at the center screaming about something, then a multitude of about 30 people gathered around them. We walked by cautiously, and noted that it was apparently a religious debate. We did not feel much of the Spirit near the bitter contention. After snapping a few pictures, we headed back to the Hotel. Once back at the Hotel, we went down to the train station to try calling Caleb again. A person came up to us, and asked for change to purchase some potato chips. Unfortunately, we only brought down the phone card. As we were explaining, another lady swooped in from nowhere and started yelling at the man. It sounded like she was yelling, “There’s no begging in the station. Get out of the station.” Then she went on her way. It looked like she was just another train passenger. I’ve never seen such aggressive anti-begging before. It ended up nobody was home again. Saddened, we returned to the Hotel for some journal writing and shut-eye. Tomorrow, we’re gonna get up early to go visit Westminster abbey and the British Museum.