After picking up the London Pass near Leicester Square I wandered around looking for a place to grab lunch. I happened to stumble across Trafalgar Square. Up to this point I was of course enjoying the European style buildings, but it wasn’t necessarily mind-blowing. When I reached Trafalgar Square I felt a paradigm shift in the world I had known. No photo, video, or lecture could have prepared me for this experience.
Scale is not something you can learn from books and imagination. Scale is something you learn by beholding the giants before you. It’s not that I’ve never seen a tall building before. In Korea, I am surrounded by 20-30 story apartments. There are plenty more tall buildings in Seoul as well as in Seattle, LA, and New York. Perhaps it was the combination of architectural style and scale that took my breath away. Or maybe it was simply the fact that I had never seen anything like it before. The funny thing is, Trafalgar Square was just the beginning of the incredible things I saw in Europe. It certainly can’t be picked as the best place to see in Europe. I think though, that it may have been one of the most memorable. Trafalgar Square was the gate that opened Europe for me.
The first building that stood out on the road to Trafalgar Square was St. Martin-in-the-Fields. At the time I didn’t know the name of the building, only recognized that it was a church. There was an interesting sculpture of the birth of Jesus at the entrance. The smooth texture of the baby’s skin against the roughness of stone was quite the contrast. Maybe because when I see babies, I see them placed on the softest blankets in cozy cribs rather than a rough surface.
As I walked into Trafalgar Square I realized that I had never truly understood what a monument was. I’ve seen other landmarks and ‘monuments’ before of course, but my reaction was completely different. You see, when I stood in front of other monuments for the first time, my reaction was “oh, nice.” When I stood under Nelson’s Column for the first time, my reaction was to stand there with my mouth open completely struck in awe.
I envy all the Londoners who can come sit in Trafalgar Square whenever they wish. How they can walk into the National Gallery for free and spend hours in front of great art merely at an arm’s length away. How they can sit on the edge of large fountains and hear the rush of water while feeling the warm sun above them. I would like nothing more than to live in London for a few years spending day after day exploring the city and viewing all the incredible works of art it holds.
I think this big blue chicken was the most unexpected thing I saw in Trafalgar Square. Maybe even the most unexpected thing I saw in London. I’m still not entirely sure what to make of it. It’s sort of stuck out to me, but I haven’t decided if I liked it or not. What do you think?