After so many years of wanting to visit Europe, I finally made it! After being accepted to LAMDA’s short study course, I had the perfect reason to venture across the pond, and it’s happened at last. We touched down in London last week bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready to explore. Okay, maybe a little more jet-lagged than bushy-tailed, but still, we started roaming around the city as soon as we arrived and haven’t been able to stop yet.
The first few days are a blur of walking. I swear you can stroll on forever and never stop running into historical buildings, street markets full of tempting food smells and fashion to suit all tastes, endearing cobblestone streets, iconic British landmarks, parks full of flowers and lakes, and more, and more around each corner. We’ve logged about 20-25km a day on foot.
The first day we arrived, we didn’t aim for anything too ambitious, simply strolling along the Thames and exploring the Hammersmith neighborhood where we’re staying before heading off to bed at a normal hour, believing (haha) that we’d somehow beat jet lag.
Day 2 was a hard-core touristing day. Hopping on the Tube, we headed for the downtown core, popping out just around the corner from Buckingham Palace. There’s something surreal about standing in front of the gates, watching the guards pace back and forth in their crimson uniforms, just as you’ve imagined it. After an easy stroll up ‘The Mall’ (which is a actually a brick street leading away from the palace) we wandered into Trafalgar Square, where the British Gallery lured us in with its Rembrandt and Rubens collection.
Unable to stay anywhere for too long, we soon headed out again, this time angling towards Big Ben and the Parliament buildings – and yet another surreal moment, standing on Westminster Bridge taking in this classic British landmark. After a quick visit to the statue of Boudicca across the street, we headed again, down the Thames and crossed over the river on our way to Borough Market for lunch.
This bustling street market reminded me of the energy of the Saturday Market in Portland Oregon, only it seemed endlessly bigger and was entirely dedicated to incredible food. Cheese, fresh produce, carts serving up dishes from around the world, sausages, pasta, ice cream, chocolate and cakes, it was a foodie’s mecca. (Later, we heard that Maltby St nearby boasts even more tantalizing fare – we’ve filed away that info for another visit in the near future).
Tummies satisfied, we then wandered along under the London Bridge and over the Tower Bridge, ending up in front of the Tower of London. While it was tempting to stop and explore it, we decided to wait and buy a ‘London Pass,’ which you can get for 1-6 days and
will give you free admission to a wide variety of the London tourist spots at one flat rate – much easier on the budget! I did stick my head in the gift shop though, to buy the most British umbrella ever.
Finally, feet protesting, we started to wind down, strolling past St. Paul’s Cathedral, taking in a bit of violin music at Covent Gardens and stopping for a delicious lasagna dinner in Leicester Square (theatre and film hub!) before heading home to tumble, exhausted into bed.
Next up – Day 3 and 4, where we discover ancient pubs with my friend Joe and take in the key to translating Egyptian hieroglyphics!