Cheesy title, I know. But London was ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL. Victoria, David and I headed to Stirling after my history’s class’ field trip to Bannockburn to catch the train to Edinburgh. After about an hour on the train, we skipped over to the tram, then headed straight for the Turnhouse airport. This was the fanciest airport I have ever seen – there were high class stores like Gucci, Prada, and Calvin Klein lining the walkway to the gates! It was like the yellow brick road of shopping. Too bad you can’t fit that stuff in a North Face backpack… Anyways, we ate at a library pub (IT WAS THE COOLEST) and I had a wonderful ham and cheese panini while waiting for our flight. We took Ryanair- an extremely cheap round trip with very accommodating flight attendants and spacious seats. I was quite impressed. After our flight, we had to take three separate trains (Including the Underground) to end up in Reading, where my friend Mark lives. It wasn’t nearly as hard as we expected it to be, and we ended up at the Reading station around 11 PM. Mark and his sweet mom picked us up and took us to their house, where we met his dad and brother, settled into our room (shoutout to Mark’s bro for letting us invade your space) and chit chatted with his family. They were extremely sweet and very welcoming. The next day, they made us toast, I tried vegemite (It was freaky), and we headed back to the station. Once we got to London, we got coffee and strolled through to the Kensington Palace, then through Hyde Park, and then walked over to Westminster Abbey. First of all, Mark was the greatest tour guide in the world. GO MARK! He literally showed us all of London in a day. Westminster Abbey was absolutely breathtaking, as was the Parliament building and Big Ben. We even got to experience an EU protest outside of Parliament. It was an amazing time to be in the city, since the UK had just broke from the EU and it was Gay Pride week!
Next, we headed to Buckingham palace right as the ‘Change of the Guards’ was happening. Again, go Mark. It was very exciting to watch, but we couldn’t escape the big crowd for about 20 minutes. Then we headed down Southbank, an artsy walk full of performers and food trucks, for some pizza. This pizza was delicious and tasted like the pizza I always have in Epcot when we go to Disney, automatically making it a 10/10. After lunch we passed by Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Millennium Bridge from the 6th Harry Potter movie, and crossed the Tower Bridge. It was even more beautiful than I had pictured it!
We met up with my Chi O sister, Courtney Carroll, at the Tower of London, where the royals used to live in the olden days. I absolutely loved seeing Courtney, who’s studying at the London School of Economics for the summer. It was wonderful to experience the Crown Jewels, the dungeons, and the King’s castle with her.
The various crowns and jewels of the Monarchy
Next, Mark took us to Piccadilly Circus, which is basically London’s version of Times Square. We were hoping to just walk around, until Mark found us tickets to see “Guys and Dolls” on the West End for 25 pounds. I was absolutely amazed that he found tickets for such a low price and that I was going to see a show on the WEST END!! Before the show, he took us to a stellar Chinese Buffet where we were finally able to eat American sized portions. Thank goodness. Our tickets came with a free coffee and pastry from “The Theatre Cafe,” where a ton of famous actors had signed their names all over the walls. My inner high school theatre self squealed a bit…Okay, a lot. I fell in love!! The show was practically perfect and such a great way to wind down the night. We then headed back to Reading and went straight to bed – traveling seriously takes it out of you (And your feet).
The next day, we said goodbye to Mark and his family and headed for the station. They were so kind to us, and we cannot thank them enough for their hospitality! Victoria and I headed for King’s Cross station to find Platform 9 and 3/4. We had to ask around, because it’s not actually between platforms 9 and 10 (Boo.) and then waited in line for a solid 45 minutes, but it was TOTALLY WORTH IT. I had so much fun, and absolutely loved making my childhood dreams come true. PS – Go Gryffindor. They thought that the Gryffindors were basic, but what can I say? I got that house on Pottermore, and Pottermore knows all. Sorry about it.
After King’s Cross, we headed to an Italian cafe and had delicious chocolate cake with tea. Then we went to Picadilly Circus and had Five Guys, because we were downright starving. We did some souvenir shopping, went to the British museum, and then headed to the airport to go home. All in all, we had such a great time exploring the city I’ve always dreamed of going to. It was fun to finally see what all the fuss was about, and definitely didn’t disappoint!