Sunday, August 5, 2012

One Does Not Simply Cross Abbey Road

Abbey Road, sacred ground for any music lover.  Even if you're not a big fan of the Beatles, how could you go to London and NOT go to Abbey Road?

It was one of the last things I had to do in London, along with go to Harrods, so my friends invited me to go and get it out of the way.  It was actually incredibly easy to find Abbey Road and the crosswalk in question.  You simply walk along until you come across a crosswalk with a million people taking pictures and blocking traffic, it stands out.  So, we get there, and it's pretty crowded.  To get the perfect picture, you have to wait until no traffic is coming.  This may sound somewhat easy, but it's a pretty busy road in London.  It didn't help that there was this girl there, and every time there was a lull in traffic she'd run out for a picture, and she'd stand in the middle of the crosswalk too, so nobody else could really do it.  She was there when we got there, and we saw her take at least five or six pictures.

Finally, she stopped, and we could start doing our individual pictures on the famous Abbey Road crosswalk.  The key was getting out there when you weren't going to get hit by a car.  It's pretty easy with one person, and several people can spread out across the crosswalk for individual pictures (except for that one girl who seemed to take a million all over the crosswalk).  The hardest part was, without a doubt, was getting four people across like the album cover.  Whenever we saw someone who got four people across, it was like a really big deal.

It took a while, but we finally did manage to get four people across the crosswalk without any serious injuries or trips to the hospital.  The coolest part about Abbey Road is they have a live webcam fixed on the crosswalk, and they store the video for 24 hours.  So, I went online and found the video, and using some fancy little program I use for teaching and stuff, I created this little video (please turn on your sound):

I'm sorry for the quality of the video, I'm not a film student or even know how to use fancy equipment, so it's nothing really special, but it's still pretty cool.

This is a screen shot from the webcam too.  It's really far away, sorry about that.  It's really cool that they do this though, just shows you how common crossing Abbey Road is.

We also went to the Abbey Road studio.  This is where the Beatles recorded their Abbey Road album, and apparently they gave their last concert on the roof here (at least that's what my friend told me).  You couldn't actually go right up the studio, there was a huge fence around it (although that didn't stop one guy from jumping the fence to get a better picture).

What you could do was sign the wall along the bottom of the fence.  How could I resist?  I may not be a huge Beatles fan, but still, they have excellent music and it's just cool do to that.  So, my friend had her handy little stash of sharpies for stage door autographs, and she whipped them out and we proceeded to sign the wall.

Pretty cool, right?  I actually left my mark on London, until it fades and someone else writes over it.  It was still really cool to do.  A lot of the flat surfaces around the studio (sidewalks, tops of ledges, etc) have messages to the Beatles, but this was right in front of the studio, which makes it even cooler.

After Abbey Road, my friends and I parted ways, and I headed over to Harrods.  If you don't know what Harrods is, it's this MASSIVE store that is incredibly expensive, but it's definitely an experience to go there.

I personally found the toy sections of the store to be the best part since there was so much to look at.  They had amazing displays, like the one above with Barbie dolls of Will and Kate, which can be yours for a mere 100 pounds (carriage with horse not included).

They also had two costumes for sale from Shrek the Musical.  That was pretty cool to see, especially since I'd just seen the musical a few days earlier.  As expected, the costumes were absolutely gorgeous, and it was just really cool to see them up close and personal.  I didn't dare look at how much the costumes cost, but I can imagine it was a small fortune.

In the toy section, Harrods also had a pretty impressive Harry Potter section, complete with replica wands, prop kits with replica props for Harry, Ron and Hermione, various props (including several of the Horcruxes), scarves, pins, etc.  I saw all of the originals at the Warner Brothers Studio, but it was still cool to see them in the store.  I didn't buy anything though, although I was tempted several times.

In the lower level of the store is a memorial to Princess Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed.  Dodi was the man with Diana in the car the night she died (they were apparently dating), and his father owns Harrods.  The pyramid on top of the fountain contains an engagement ring Dodi apparently bought to give to Diana the day before they died, along with a champagne glass Diana had been drinking from the night she died with her lipstick smudged on it.  The memorial is also a fountain, and you could toss change in it to make a donation to a foundation named in Diana's memory for lower income schools.

Harrods also has the "Millionaire Room," which contains various posters and movie props with autographs as well.  They had all six Star Wars posters, each one autographed by the main characters.  They also had posters from all four Pirates of the Caribbean movies, once again autographed, also with a sword that Johnny Depp used.  Other autographs include some athletes, various Presidents, Princess Diana, Michael Jackson, and, of course, the Beatles.  You couldn't take pictures in there, but it was really amazing to look at, even though everything cost at least 7,000 pounds.

So, that was Abbey Road and Harrods.  My hint to you, with Abbey Road, try to go early in the morning or late in the evening before or after rush hour, although there's no way to really tell how crowded it's going to be.

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