Western Europe Discovery #2: Borough Market, the British Museum, and Oxford

We began our day by taking the Tube from King’s Cross station, home of the infamous Harry Potter 9 3/4 platform. We boarded the Tube and made our way toward the Shakespeare Globe Theater. Our tour guide explained Shakespeare’s life and talents to us, going into detail about the way he used descriptive language and imagery to create intricate storylines in his plays. Afterwards we had the opportunity to explore the Borough Market, dining at stands specializing in foods from all around the world. These included, but weren’t limited to, Ethiopian, French, Israeli, Egyptian, and Indian cuisines.

We then took the Tube to Hendon Central where we completed our community service activity. A rabbi working full-time for the GIFT organization, Avi, gave us the backstory to his charity and instructed us on how we would be able to help. We split into groups and sorted food and toiletries, as well as put together care packages for families all over London, but primarily within the Jewish community.

As a group, we were so inspired by his message that one can never be too young to give and that even the smallest acts of kindness can make huge differences in peoples’ lives. Collectively we came together as a community and donated over 20 pounds for the GIFT organization! On Friday evening we attended an orthodox Kabbalat Shabbat service at a local London synagogue. Positive energy and happiness were radiating from all of the congregation as they danced and sang the prayers. Many of the tunes were familiar, so we were able to sing along and participate in the service. Afterwards, we enjoyed a three course fish and chicken meal at the synagogue, before walking back to the hotel.

After a long week of traveling and touring, we were grateful to have some down time on Shabbat. We had morning services in the park, and had contentious discussions on the role that believing in God plays in identifying as a Jew. We then had free time in the park to throw around footballs and frisbees, eat a picnic lunch, and enjoy the warm weather.

 

In the afternoon we went to the British Museum, which contains 8.5 million artifacts from all of the continents. Some of the highlights of our visit were the Rosetta Stone, the mummy of Katebet, and the multitude of stone sculptures from the time of the Greek and Roman empires. Many of the exhibits, particularly the Mesopotamian exhibit, dated back to as early as 6000 BCE, giving us a unique look into ancient civilization. We truly gained a new appreciation for the vibrant and rich history of the human race. Our day concluded with a fish and chips dinner, native to the city of London.

Goodbye London! Sunday we left bustling London for a quiet day in the English countryside. We first traveled to Oxford where we had an opportunity to visit the famous university and the surrounding towns. As all the participants on this trip are in high school we often have university on our minds and it was interesting to see the similarities and differences to our own universities back home. After a quick lunch in Oxfords bustling pedestrian marketplace we left for Stonehenge. It was interesting to see the ancient parts of British history compared to the more modern perspective we had seen in the city. Our day concluded with an overnight boat ride to Normandy.

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