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Duringthe month I spent studying in England last summer, one day stands out. There Iwas, not quite 16 and turned loose on the streets of London. The freedom wasexhilarating. For someone who has lived in a small town all her life, the cityrepresented a world of excitement.
This was not my first visit to London.A year earlier I spent one weekend scurrying around with my mother, trying tosquash all the major sightseeing attractions into a mere three days. That triphad been both tiring and wonderful, but this time I was grateful to be ablesimply to enjoy the atmosphere and culture.
My friend and I discussedwhere we should go, and decided to go shopping. This led us to Covent Garden,home of the giant Doc Marten's store and trendy cafes. The market area is one ofmy favorite places in London. It's a great place to explore; you can findeverything from the latest fashions to memorabilia that can only be found inEngland.
On that summer day, the street performers were out in full force.From classical musicians to jugglers and magicians, appreciative touristsgathered to watch. I did not stop, I was satisfied just to feel the activity inthe street rather than become a part of it.
We ate at an Italianrestaurant that night and had dessert at Haagen-Dazs. As the sun set, thebuildings glowed with pink and red light. The stores closed early, as they alwaysdo in England, so we headed to the Thames River. The river itself is nothing tolook at; the water often appears muddy, and no one would dare swim in it. But theview makes the visit worthwhile. From there you can see it all: the Tower ofLondon, the Houses of Parliament, St. Paul's Cathedral and the newly-built TateModern Museum. This collection of great buildings reflects many centuries mergedto produce the London of today.
As I stood on the bridge taking in mysurroundings, I realized what an incredibly rich history the city has. Over thenext hundred years the facades might change as older buildings give way to biggerstructures, but certain elements will remain. Long after I am gone, anotherperson may look from the same spot and see what I saw: a prison, a body of law, achurch and an art museum. Although they may serve different purposes, they allpossess a timeless and elegant quality I hope will allow them to exist so thatothers may enjoy them as I did during that late July sunset.
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