One of my good friends growing up, Megan, offered for Aaron and I to stay with her at her flat in London. She is studying there for the term as well, so we took advantage of her hospitality and spent the weekend in London. She lives in Southbank and gave us loads of options of things to do. We left on Thursday, Thanksgiving, and were kindly greeted by Thanksgiving leftovers her and her floor-mates had made. It was just what I needed after a day of travel.
Friday rolled around and we started at the Imperial War Museum. Most of the museums are free in London because the government funds it through taxes, therefore, they rely on donations. The outside of the museums looked really small and quaint, almost like an old court house. As you enter there are fighter jets and all types of war memorabilia. We could have spent all day in there, but we limited our time to 2 hours. The exhibits covered from WWI to current time. I really enjoyed the Holocaust exhibit, a precursor to my trip to Amsterdam this weekend where I’ll see the Anne Frank Haus. It was quite emotional, especially hearing Holocaust victims’ stories.
Then we made our way to the tourist sites, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Parliament, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey. It started to get dark really quick, so we set up a place to meet with Megan, and then headed to Hyde Park for the Winter Wonderland festival. I had heard there was going to be a festival in a park, so I imagined it would be a few rides and a few vendors. It. Was. HUGE! There were carnival rides so large they should be in a theme park, vendors lined up at every end, and tons of people walking around with sweets and over sized teddy bears. The rides were a bit pricey, so we thought we might get a drink. As we perused about we came across a carousel with adults standing on it, and as we took a closer look we discovered it was a carousel bar! We immediately hopped on, ordered a beer, and sang songs with the entertainer. Finally, we stopped for a quick fish and chips and walked back home.
|A perfect view of Big Ben|
Saturday, we bought a day pass for the Underground, because we planned on hopping all around town. We started at Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guards. It was insanely busy, but really cool to see. They even performed a mini concert, which mainly consisted of Abba songs. Then we took the tube toward Camden Market, but took a quick stop at Kings Cross Station. As a Harry Potter fan, I had to stop at Platform 9¾ for a quick photo-op. After a quick snapshot we were on our way to the Market.
|Megan and I making our way to Hogwarts|
The market was incredible, multiple stories, alleys, and stands where you can find food, clothes, jewelry, really anything you can think of. After some exploring we went to Oxford Street, the main shopping area in the city center. We stopped in Primark, a UK discount store, I’d compare it to a TJMaxx or Target. There I got tons of socks for the winter and a comfy cardigan. The streets were packed with shoppers and Christmas lights hung from building to building. After some more shopping we went back to Southbank for dinner at Nando’s. Nando’s has chicken dishes inspired by Portuguese food. I’d heard about it from friends who visited and it did not disappoint. Aaron and I shared a chicken platter with all different spices, sauces, it was just delicious. After our bellies were filled we hung around for a bit and then met up with Megan’s friends to hang at the local pub. We shared drinks, laughs, and had a nice end to a wonderful trip.
I absolutely fell in love with London, the combination of an urban oasis and quaint neighborhoods are a perfect blend. Maybe I will be back sometime in the future! Fingers crossed!
|The River Thames at night|