Volcanoes & Birthdays by Rachel Csaszar

A cannon exploding at the Queen's birthday salute in Hyde Park.

For everyone in the USA, the Iceland volcano probably hasn’t been much of an issue. Here in London though, it has been the major focus of all news outlets for almost two weeks. The volcano erupted, sending ash into the atmosphere that blew right over the UK. Instead of moving, the ash cloud ended up sitting over most of Western Europe, grounding all flights and causing Heathrow International Airport to close. It has certainly been a major issue with those of us on this trip, wondering when flights would stop being canceled, but it seems as though the crisis is ending because Heathrow has opened and most planes are back in the air. Now we’re just keeping our fingers crossed that the volcano doesn’t start erupting again before we need to fly to Rome!

Besides the volcano mess, London has been amazing. I have been able to do so many things, such as see the shows “London Assurance” and “The Real Thing”, two plays that are hugely popular here. I have also explored many parts of the city, even stumbling across a huge celebration for Holland’s Queen that took place in Trafalgar Square. I’m still not sure why they celebrate the Dutch Queen in London, but it was fun to listen to music and talk to the locals.

Me with the Peter Pan statue in Hyde Park.

One of the best experiences I’ve had since being here though, was when we were able to celebrate the Queen of England’s birthday on April 21st. Every year there is a salute in Hyde Park, and then another at the Tower of London.

We woke up and headed toward Hyde Park around 10 am and managed to get a great spot behind the ropes and right next to a royal marching band that played before and after the cannons were fired. After the band, came the horses! So many horses! They galloped at full speed toward the set up area pulling the cannons and ammunition. From there, everything was set up, and then came the rounds of firing that was absolutely unbelievable! They shot quite a few rounds, and then the horses came galloping back to pull the cannons away. The band played another song in honor of the Queen, and then it was over.

It was an awesome experience, and afterwards we strolled through Hyde Park and were able to see the famous Peter Pan statue and some other beautiful sites. London has been spectacular so far, and I can’t wait to see what else it has in store for me!

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