The more I traveled the more it seemed that every country has a different name for every city in other countries. For example Italians and Spaniards call London Londra and Londres respectively. Just a weird observation that made booking tickets a bit difficult sometimes. Anyways when we arrived to London (I’m just going to call it it’s English name) we flew into Stanstead and had to take two buses to get to our hostel, St. Christopher’s Inn in Borough, which turned out to be within walking distance from the Tower Bridge, London Tower, and Borough Market. After checking in we headed off to see the Tower Bridge which looked incredible up close. And since we were experiencing quite British weather (rain and wind) we felt very cool walking across the bridge with the wind blowing in our hair.
After crossing the bridge we took the tube to Westminister Abbey where we could see the Abbey, Big Ben and the London Eye all from one bridge. It was my first time in London so I had no idea that all these tourist attractions were so close to each other! The proximity was great because my friend Jasmine had to jet set out of London in just two days and was trying to see as much as possible.
Afterwards we walked through a gorgeous park to Trafalgar’s Square. There took some great shots with some lion statues and heard a funny street performer dressed up as DJ Grandpa.
After enjoying the square we headed off to find a cool place to eat in Soho. We ended up deciding on a cute Japanese restaurant where we had to sit on our knees and the tables where knee level. It was the first time I had ever been to a place like that but luckily my Japanese American friend Kim was there to explain the etiquette. Afterwards we grabbed some delicious bubble tea because London seems to be the only place in Europe with good bubble tea and headed back for the night.
Our second day in London we decided to take a tour of the Tower of London because of it’s rich history and reputation for being haunted. Our tour was led by a Yeoman who was quite funny and knowledgeable on the history behind the place. After the tour we headed off the see the crown jewels and armory. Unfortunately they don’t let you take any photos of the jewels but I can assure you that they were very impressive.
After Tower Bridge we headed off to eat at Chipotle (one of the only ones in all of Europe!) and went to the British Museum. The great thing about the museums in London is that all of them are free! So we were able to get in and see the Rosetta Stone, ancient artifacts and more for free, which after the very expensive Tower of London tour, was quite a relief. Also I realized that the British almost had more of the Parthenon that the Greeks did because it was popular for rich British people to go and “visit” ancient Greek temples and come home with part of them.
The next day we decided to head to the West End early to get last minute box office tickets to a show. We ended up getting 20 pound tickets to go see Jersey Boys later that day. Then we headed over to see the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. On the way we paced St. James Park that was beautiful and blooming in the spring time. London has some of the most beautiful city parks in Europe. It really brings some nature into the huge city. The changing of the guards was very different than the one I saw in Athens. The one at Buckingham Palace was more like a marching band performance than anything else, and I unfortunately forgot to get a picture of a guard so you get our group picture in front of the palace instead.
Then we hopped on the tube to go to platform 9 3/4! As nerds we of course wanted to go to this very important Harry Potter location and take the picture where we pretended to go through the wall. The funny thing is that they have an official scarf thrower. That throws your scarf right before the picture; his job has to kind of boring.
After our Harry Potter moment Fay and I really wanted to see the place where they film the BBC Sherlock episodes, which was within walking distance from King’s Cross. We even had great Full English Breakfasts (for lunch) at Speedy’s next door.
In the evening we went to see Jersey Boys in the West End. The acting and singing was amazing. It was especially impressive since the British actors had to use convincing Jersey accents, so when they slipped up we had a hard time not laughing. Most of the cast though were really good at the accent and hearing all the famous songs of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons was amazing!
Our last day in London we decided to take a day trip to Stonehenge. Before we stopped off at Borough Market to get some food. I got some amazing Ethiopian food that tasted a lot like Indian food. Then we took our 2 hour bus journey to Stonehenge. When we finally reached it was drizzling and quite cloudy but we enjoyed seeing the stones and the audio tour quite a lot regardless. We could tell that stones had a lot of spiritual significance for the ancients that built them. Especially after trying to move a stone on a simulator that showed that if I pulled as hard as I could it would still take another 100 people to move the stone. Building Stonehenge must have taken some serious man power!
This was our last day in London and we were pretty sad to leave. I would definitely like to visit again as there is so much stuff that I haven’t gotten to see! I really loved the multi-cultural urban feel of London, it kind of reminded me of being back in the states but in a much bigger and older city. Stay tuned for the next post will be about Amsterdam!