Chip chip cheerio!
I just got back from a weekend trip in London. Let’s just say I want to go back there as soon as I can; there is so much stuff to do and things to see. On Friday, I got to skip my afternoon management class since my flight left in the morning. I got on the bus on time and right as we pulled onto the highway to go to the Shannon airport, I realized that I did not bring my camera with me. I could picture it on my desk just sitting there. I was not pleased with myself but there was nothing I could do about it. Luckily, every other person remembered their camera so I was able to just hop in some pictures without worrying about trying to get the shot. I was able to see London. So it worked out for the best. We arrived at the airport at 11:15 got our boarding passes and then just hung out in the airport for two hours. While we were grabbing a bite to eat, I noticed a large swarm of men in uniform that were making their way into the restaurant. They were US Marines, Navy, and Army on their way back home from Afghanistan. I wanted to stand up and start chanting U.S.A. but my fellow travelers would not allow me to! The plane ride to London was only an hour which means it isn’t enough time to take a nap so I read instead. Once we landed, we were greeted by our guide Tim who lead us through Heathrow and onto our coach to take us to our hotel. We stayed at the Mercure hotel which apparently will cost you 400 pounds a night for a Privilege room which happens to be the rooms we stayed in. If you can’t do the conversion in your head, 400 pounds is equal to $620. I felt like a high roller haha! After unloaded our bags in our rooms, Mal, Melissa, and I went to a cafe across the street that served Moroccan food. The meatballs and rice were delicious! Then, Mal and I got all dolled up to go see a play. Yes, I chose to go see the Lion King; I’m still a kid at heart. We walked to Covent Garden which has a large selection of cafes, restaurants, shops, and street performers. We walked around and decided to grab a little something to eat at an Italian restaurant. I did not know this, but restaurants do not serve tap water, you have to buy a bottle of spring water. Dumb if you ask me. I looked through the menu and decided that I wanted to order a cookie dough lava cake. I told the waiter and he looked at me funny and said, “Just dessert?” Why yes, I only want to order dessert, don’t judge me. And it was delicious! After dessert, we headed over to the Lyceum Theatre to get our seats for Lion King. The show was fabulous. The young versions of Simba and Nala were these adorable British kids who had the cutest accents. The girl who was sitting next to Mal actually cried when Mufasa died. I hope the next time I get back to London, I will be fortunate to see another play. We walked back to the hotel and as we were waiting for the elevator, 6 of our fellow travelers were just getting ready to go out. It was about 11 o’clock and I was ready for bed. As lame as that sounds, we stayed in got some good REM cycles in before our long day the next day.
For the first part of Saturday, our sightseeing was arranged for us with a tour guide so we could get background information on all of the popular sites. We hopped on the coach and went to St. Paul’s Cathedral. It is one of the most beautiful churches I have ever visited. Not to mention, Mary Poppins was filmed at that location. Speaking of movies, the next stop on our tour was related to Harry Potter. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, there is a scene at the beginning of the film that shows Death Eaters destroying a walking bridge. That bridge is in London and I definitely walked over it. We also saw the building they used as the Ministry of Magic. The next destination was the London Bridge. Our guide said we were lucky to be seeing the bridge when we did since it was open in order to allow a ship to pass underneath it. Very cool. Our final stop was seeing the monarchy which included Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace. We got there just in time to see the end of the changing of the guard. The band and part of the guard walked from the Palace to their barracks where they put on a little “show.” After this, we were free to roam London as we pleased. Courtnee, Brittney, Lauren, Sarah, Mal, and I broke off from the group and went on our own. Mal and I had planned out all of the places we wanted to visit and number one on most of our lists was Platform 9 3/4. Again, related to Harry Potter. We go to Charing Station and buy a traveler’s day pass since we will need to go on the tube more than once. I am not of fan of the Underground. There is no ventilation so it is super hot and it smells kinda funny. But it is the quickest way to get around. We get off at King’s Cross Station and go upstairs to the platforms to find it. We follow the signs and get to a sign that says Platform 9 3/4 has moved. How is it possible to move an entire platform. So, we follow the signs that lead us to a shed that has a cart in a wall and a sign above it. I was a little bit disappointed but that was not going to stop me from a photo op. Hogwarts here I come! After pictures were taken, we wanted to get back on the tube to go to Hyde Park. Between the first subway ride and the second, I somehow managed to lose my ticket, which means I had to shell out another 7 pounds. This also adds to my reason for not liking the Underground. Oh well. Hyde Park is a completely different world compared to London. London is filled with people and tourists and there is always something going on. Hyde Park is a peaceful oasis full of green grass and lots of space to play frisbee or have a picnic. This is more of my scene. We walked through the parked and made our way to see Princess Diana’s Memorial Fountain which was full of little children. I did not want to stay there long at all. By this time we are all exhausted from walking around all day, so we make our way through the park to find Kensington Palace. Unfortunately we didn’t find the palace, but we did come across Albert’s Memorial which was exquisite. It was ornately decorated with big sculptures and painted gold. From here we hopped on a double decker bus and went through the rich part of town. Mal and Lauren were obsessed with the Burberry store and took an unnecessary amount of pictures of it. Once we made it back to our 4 star hotel, we went up to our rooms to relax a bit before we went out to eat. Around 8, we hopped on a bus to Covent Gardens to find a restaurant. After wandering through the square, we finally decided to eat at a restaurant called Pasta Brown. The fettuccine that I ordered was one of the best meals I have ever had. So delicious! At the hotel, Mal and I went up to Trevor’s room since he was celebrating his 21st Birthday. I felt very underdressed since I wasn’t going out. My boxers and sweatshirt did not stand up to the girls’ dresses, tights, and heels. They all looked good lol!
On Sunday morning, Mal and I go down to breakfast which consists of pastries, croissants, bread, a meat and cheese platter, cereal, and tea. I stuffed my face with pastries. I figured since we were going to be walking around again in the morning that I needed some energy right? We met up with Melissa, Brittney, and Courtnee and then we walked over to Shakespeare’s Globe. The Globe is an English major’s dream come true. Our tour guide was an hilarious older lady who had a lot of inside stories. After the Globe, we leisurely walked down by the river with our final destination being the London Eye. There were a lot of tents set up with food and crafts, almost like a street fair. When we made it to the Eye, I looked over at the queue and realized we were not going to be able to ride it before we needed to make it back to the hotel. So we hung out by the fair and watched the Eye and saw Buckingham Palace in the distance too. It may sound like I did a lot of sightseeing but there are definitely places that I wasn’t able to go to or enough time to go on all of the tours. I really hope to make it back to London. The flight home was terrible. I had the stereotypical flight experience where there were two children behind me. Both of them were screaming and the little boy behind me was kicking my seat. I lasted about 30 minutes before I had to turn around and sternly ask the kid to stop kicking. It may have come off a little mean, but the kicking stopped so what did I care. I just hope I never have to experience a flight like that again.