MONDAY, MARCH 27, 2017
Hello, everyone! Yes, yes, I know it’s been quite a long time since my last post (warning: it’s going to be a long one)… If you follow me on ANY other social media platforms, then you know I haven’t had time to blog because I’ve been busy studying abroad and traveling! Now, coming to the end of my program, I figured I better get at least one post up about my amazing time in London before actually leaving the place. So, welcome to my new beginnings in London, England… It’s hard to remember my exact feelings upon arriving in London, but I definitely remember a mixture of excitement, amazement, and anticipation. I arrived at the Heathrow Airport at the very end of March with a little over twenty other students who were also part of the program. We took a giant group bus from the airport to our new flats, taking in all the strange sights around us. My first impression of London was that it was some mysterious combination of Boston and New York (however, it’s much better). Not to mention the fact that everyone was driving on the opposite side of the road… After about an hour of driving, we pulled up to our flat building, which was a towering skyscraper with a small elevator inside and several floors. I found my new “flatmates” and we headed up to our room!
The first thing we did was choose our beds. The second thing we did was take in the view from our balcony. It was beautiful! Wanting to waste no time, my new flatmate, Sharmaine, and I met up with a couple other students and decided to go exploring! We tried our hand at figuring out the Tube (London’s underground subway system) and somehow ended up at Trafalgar Square. It felt crazy to be here! There were huge fountains and a variety of giant statues surrounding us. Not to mention, we had a direct view of Big Ben! I honestly couldn’t believe where I was. We took pictures and just tried to absorb the sight in front of us. The next few days consisted of pretty much the same thing… Exploring, figuring out the Tube, and trying to believe we’d actually made it to London!
FRIDAY, MARCH 31, 2017
Some of the first places my new friends and I hit were Russell Square, the Museum of London, and of course, Primark. Unique to the U.K., Primark is a store unlike any other! It has cute, but very affordable clothes, accessories, home decor, and everything in between. If you’re ever in the London, I would definitely recommend visiting the Primark on Oxford Street! Anyways, on our way back from our first ever Primark haul (and trust me, there would be many more), my flatmate and I were tempted by a colorful ice cream truck parked outside the British Museum. For a whopping £4.00, we each got a scoop of fluffy ice cream to enjoy as we walked back to the nearest Tube station.
SATURDAY, APRIL 1, 2017
After a few days of settling in (including our first class and first day of our new internship), it was time to go out and see more of London’s iconic sights. First on our list?The London Eye! We hopped on a red double-decker bus (cliche, I know) from our flat to the huge Ferris wheel. We ended up stumbling across the Southbank Centre Food Market on our way there and decided to stop to take a look at all of the little booths, following the delicious smell of food wafting out of them. A particular dessert booth caught Sharmaine and I’s eye pretty quickly so we headed that way. It was a booth dedicated to covering a variety of fruit on skewers and drowning them in Belgian chocolate and toppings. Talk about yummy! I chose a skewer with strawberries and pineapples, drenched in two types of Belgian chocolate, and topped with nuts, mini marshmallows, and more chocolate! Sharmaine and I both agreed: Absolutely delicious!
After filling our bellies with such a divine dessert, we headed to our actual destination. There was, of course, hundreds of people in the area, all milling around and looking up at the huge wheel. There was a man off to the side of the Eye, playing Bruno Mars’ Just the Way You Are on a beautiful instrument I’d never seen before. It was loud and overpowering, but in an amazing way that really set the scene for such a gorgeous London day. Sharmaine and I listened for awhile and dropped some pence in his hat before heading to buy our tickets for a much anticipated ride. The wait for tickets wasn’t too long and we were quickly swooped into the line for a 4-D video experience that was included in the price. We went into a theatre-type room and began to watch a short film about the London Eye and all of its grandeur. There were cool special effects like wind blowing through our hair and mist filling the room. If anything, the film only increased our excitement! At the end of the experience, we were ushered out of the room and into the line for the main attraction. Surprisingly, the wait was also short, and we happily hopped into one of the huge London Eye pods.
The view was stunning! The pod easily fit a large group of people and goes around once, very slowly, so that you can walk around and take pictures from all angles. We admired a magnificent view of the Thames River, Big Ben and the House of Parliament, the Shard, and so much more! It was like taking in all of London at once. I felt like I could see for miles and miles, all of the endless buildings, towers, and bridges of London. It was truly an amazing sight to behold and an even better experience that I’ll never forget.
After exiting the London Eye, we decided to walk around and explore more. We ended up coming across one of London’s many Amorino’s and I convinced my friends to stop for some flower-shaped gelato. I’ve only ever had Amorino in Boston, but this one was so much better! I got passion fruit, strawberry, and mango as my three petal flavors and I loved every lick! The passion fruit flavor was by far my favorite, and I didn’t at all care that I’d pretty much only eaten sweet desserts as meals all day.
SUNDAY, APRIL 2, 2017
Can you guess what was next on our London bucket list? Buckingham Palace, of course! A couple friends and I decided to grab some breakfast before starting our royal day out. We stopped by a trendy cafe not too far from our flat called Shoreditch Grind. It was a really cool little place that also turns into a cocktail bar at night. They had a decent variety of items on their menu, but much to my disdain they did not have a vanilla latte. I ordered a mocha latte instead and ham and cheese croissant to go with it. (Fun fact about London: They like all of their sandwiches very plain! They usually only have two or three ingredients in them at the most.) The mocha latte was actually really good and my friends and I had no complaints about our food. Then, it was off the the Palace!
It didn’t take to long to get there and I wouldn’t say it was overly crowded. Unfortunately, you can only go into Buckingham Palace during certain months in the summer when the Queen isn’t living there. Still, it was a huge place and it was super cool to see the gates and all the detailed architecture. Right in front, there was also a huge statue right in front of the Palace, which is the Queen Victoria Memorial. It’s very easy to see the strong Roman influence throughout London and it’s design and architecture. Next, we decided to walk through St. James’ Park, which surrounds the Palace. It was a huge park with lots of green grass, trees, and pathways. Overall, it was a great place to be! In fact, London is just a great place in every way! If you’re not convinced, just wait, there’s more to come…