Monday, 1 December 2014


November 20-23

Day 1: Elise and I took a Ryanair flight to London. We got to stay in Jeri and Kristen’s flat, which was really nice! We got there at 2 in the morning, and slept very soundly in their huge bunk beds.

Day 2: We had decided to do one of the hop on, hop off bus tours of London on the double decker buses. We were also still in the process of figuring out London’s underground system. They have all the different colored station lines, but the thing is that sometimes the lines themselves branch off to different stops, even though it’s still the same line. Thank god Elise figured it out, and how to read their maps.

Our first stop on the bus was St. Paul’s Cathedral. I have to admit it was kind of a letdown as the first stop, just looking at it from the outside. I’m sure the inside was beautiful, but we didn’t want to pay the 12ish pounds to go in. 

We went back on the bus and got our first glimpse of the London Bridge, and got to go over it!

I had "London Bridge" by Fergie stuck in my head for a bit

Also passed by the Tower of London, which still had some of the red (ceramic?) poppies up as part of the tribute to the First World War. That was really cool to see.

Our first view of the Big Ben and the London Eye!

I thought the Parliament Building and Big Ben were both gorgeous. The amount of detail is crazy. Right across the street is also Westminster Abbey. Everything is so big in person!

So Big Ben is actually the name of the bell, and the tower is the Elizabeth Tower

So many selfies with Big Ben. 
Such a tourist

We walked around Oxford Street, which is the big shopping street, as well as Regent’s. They were starting to light their Christmas lights, which was really cool among all the bustling people-so many people.

Hamley’s is a 6 or 7 floor toy store. That was packed too, and employees were everywhere demonstrating their new toys.

Lego guards killing it

The Royal Family in legos

Hello Hamley
3 story M&M store
They have English bulldogs, Big Ben, the flag, and the crown on them! Elise got them custom made
Beatles M & Ms!

We wandered around some more and got dinner in Chinatown, which was a good rest for my feet, and also the best Asian food I’ve had since I’ve been here, which actually isn’t saying much, but it is something.

Next was Trafalgar Square. Some cool statues, but the main draw was the National Gallery. It’s an impressive art museum PLUS it’s free! We didn’t know how many famous paintings were there. It was nice we have around the same taste in art, and we enjoyed the Monet and Van Gogh!
The green in the distance is Big Ben!

-Just writing this out, I’m so impressed with how much we did that day! And there’s still more!-

Then it was back on the underground to go to Buckingham Palace, where the Queen lives! It was pretty quiet at night, and even though there wasn’t any cool royal guards, we enjoyed the peacefulness of it.
Hullo queen, let us crazies in!

That was close to Hyde Park, so we decided to go to Winter Wonderland, the huge Christmas market and basically Christmas carnival. There were tons of rides, and food, and Christmas market stalls!

We finally called it a day, and struggled through the crowds to the subway to Camden, and knocked out.

Day 2: Windsor, Stonehenge, Oxford

Today was the coach tour! Started with navigating the underground as usual- we were getting better at it. First we went to Windsor Castle, also where the queen lives. Our tour was randomly a bilingual tour, so the guide said everything in Spanish and English. I practiced listening and understanding Spanish for Barcelona.

Windsor Castle is located in a cute town called Windsor. You couldn't take pictures of the inside of the state apartments, so here's what it is like outside. The inside was pretty cool; there was one of the queen's dollhouses, all the sets of dishes they have, as well as the apartments themselves.

I was chasing the guards with my camera

St. George's Chapel
Not my pic, but there's a sense of what it was like!

Some people were taking selfies with him, but I was too intimidated

Stonehenge, like I’ve told some people, is so unreal and surreal to see in person. I think it was my favorite part of the tour. The gift shop is a dangerous place, I wanted to get so many prints and postcards…

Eek! This picture probably best shows how cool it is.

We only got to Oxford at night, so we couldn’t see everything, but what we could see was pretty cool. The university library was where they filmed the infirmary of Harry Potter, and the actual book shelves of the library in Harry Potter!

See the arches where they had the infirmary?

We tried to go to Harrod's the famous department store, but didn't get there in time to actually go in. I was definitely still satisfied with looking at the store front window displays. They were amazing.

Day 3: Elise and I actually let ourselves sleep in for a bit. Travelling is exhausting. We were going to try to go to Tower of London, but we decided to just do something close by, like exploring this market right by us. Jeri and Kristen live in the Camden area, which goes over a river with locks to move boats across. Every day they have a pretty famous market with food stalls, arts and crafts, vintage items, and clothes. I really enjoyed the area, and the stalls were endless. It was raining pretty hard, so that was interesting with a broken umbrella and wet feet, but I’m so glad we explored one specific area of London!

We got to watch them use the locks too
Cool art

Then we headed back to the room to grab our stuff, and get to the tube, to get the shuttle to the airport. We thought we were running late, but so was the shuttle. We learned that souvenir shops are very dangerous places for us- there was a big one in the airport terminal. In my defense, I got gifts for other people too! 

And as a final note, I found I love the bustle of big cities- but to visit, not all the time! I loved the feel of London, and using the Tube, and just all the sights. When we were coming back from Winter Wonderland after it had just closed with everyone else who was just there, squished in the Tube like that, I imagined doing this during a commute every day and didn't like that thought. But it's an amazing place to visit and I know there's still a lot left to see!

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