Greetings from London! Yesterday we started our day by meeting up with the SUNY Broome LIT 296: London and Literature class in Russell Square for a quick group photo. It was fun to meet up with our SUNY Broome colleagues here in London! After that our class jumped on the tube and went to meet our guide, Dickens scholar, Dr. David Tucker, at the Temple tube stop. Dr. Tucker led us on a walking tour of Dickens’ London, and for about three hours we learned about the life and influence of Charles Dickens, as well as the inspiration for many of his settings and characters in his novels. Dr. Tucker helped us to see London through the eyes of Charles Dickens. We were even given the special surprise privilege of being allowed to go inside of Middle Temple for a few minutes! The streets of London have really come alive for us during our walking tours this week.
Dr. Tucker left us at the Farringdon Station where we took the National Rail to St. Pancras Station. Once at Saint Pancras, we got a quick lunch and boarded the Eurostar high speed train. We traveled at about 300 kph (and 75 meters down under the English Channel) to Brussels in less than two hours! In Brussels we took a different train to the gorgeous city of Bruges. It was easy to see why this city is known as the “Venice of the North”. Bruges is one of the most well preserved medieval cities in Europe, and we all loved our visit there. Wow. It was just gorgeous and a lot of fun.
We checked into our hotel (Hotel Academie http://www.hotelacademie.be/en/) and then enjoyed dinner and explored the city streets until very late. Today most of us were up early and saw many of the sites and attractions. Some of the activities included a tour of the centuries old De Halve Maan Brewery, the Torture Museum Oude Steen (certainly a look at the darkest aspects of human nature), the Chocolate Museum, the Belgian Fry Museum, boat tours on the canals, art museums, shopping, chocolate, and delicious Belgian waffles. What a wonderful day!!
At 3pm we met and headed back to the train station to return to Brussels and then London. After dropping off our backpacks at the flats, we met at the Plough for our farewell dinner together. Dr. Firenze stood on a chair so as to be sure to make the point that we all need to be packed and ready by 9 am tomorrow morning. We will have a class session for final oral theses presentations in Russell Square, and then head straight to the airport around 11 am. It is hard to believe that our time in London has come to a close and we will be back in Binghamton late Friday night (or very early Saturday morning). It has been a really fun and exciting and enlightening week, and I am sure this trip and all the things we saw and did we will be remembered for a lifetime. We certainly have a new appreciation for science and art and history, and how it all fits together in our fascinating and complex human nature. Dr. Firenze and I look forward to reading the student’s final papers. Thanks for following along with our adventures. Cheers from London!