This past weekend, I took my first trip outside of Barcelona to London. After three trips to Europe this was my first visit to the UK, and I had no idea what to expect. So naturally before I left, I decided to watch The King’s Speech to get myself psyched for the weekend… and let me tell you, it was nothing like the movie; I didn’t even see the Queen once! Actually, that’s a lie, I saw the queen on every piece of money possible (and this makes counting out your money very difficult when it all looks the same.)
Even though our flight did not leave until 7 a.m. Friday morning, we decided to arrive at the airport Thursday evening (almost a full 7 hours before our flight left.) We decided to do this because the Metro stops running at midnight on Thursdays and doesn’t start up until 5 a.m. on Fridays, therefore not leaving us with much time to get to the airport and go through security. After a long night spent at the airport, we took off and landed at approximately 12 p.m.on Friday, London time. From the airport we took a bus, train and metro (quite literally: Planes, Trains and Automobiles.)
Our Airbnb was located in Ilford, roughly 2 hours from the Luton airport and 40 minutes outside of the city, so it was a very exhausting first few hours in London.
After settling into our room, we took the train back into London to pick up our hop-on-hop-off bus tickets (this is a must when visiting a city as large as London.) After collecting our tickets, we headed to a nearby pub hoping to enjoy some fish and chips, but were later informed that the best fish and chips come from outside the city (just a little tidbit if you ever plan on visiting London.) I had a steak and mushroom pie instead, which was absolutely delicious. I can honestly say it was my largest meal I’ve had while studying abroad (Spaniards tend to eat lighter, more healthy options.)
After lunch we hopped on the bus and it took us on a 40 minute tour of the city. Luckily we sat in the covered part on the upper deck of the bus because it was snowing, something I wasn’t expecting to see. We endured the cold and rode the bus for a little over an hour.
It was on the bus that I got my first glance of Big Ben and the London Eye.
Fun Fact #1: Big Ben is actually the name of the bell inside the tower, not the actual tower. The bell is the largest bell in the world. (See dad, I am learning some things!)
Unfortunately due to the bad weather this weekend, I never got a chance to ride the London Eye, but I did get many glimpses of it! After our long day of traveling, we ventured back to the Underground and made our way back to Ilford. After getting off the metro in Ilford, we stopped at a restaurant called “Fish and Chips” (I mean it sounded pretty promising.) I bet you couldn’t guess what I ordered… Yes, you’re right! I got the fish and chips and they were delicious, and it is true, the best fish and chips do come from outside of the city (I can say this with confidence because I tried another one of the girl’s fish and chips at lunch and it was nowhere near as good as the one I had for dinner.)
The next day we woke up early and took the Underground to King’s Cross Station (any Harry Potter fans out there know where this is going.)
At King’s Cross they have a real life replica of the Platform 9 3/4 from the Harry Potter books and movies. Anyone who knows me will know that I just read Harry Potter for the first time (yes, I know I’m lame) last summer and was immediately obsessed (I’ve already seen the movies more times than I can count.) So we waited in line for a little over an hour to take some of the best photographs I have ever seen. It sounds cheesy, but this may have been my favorite part of the trip. My roommate even swears she saw me shed a tear. The best part was, this was completely free and well worth the wait!
After this life changing experience, we headed towards the London Bridge to catch our River Thames guided cruise tour (included in our bus tickets.) I was glad to be riding the boat, because it was yet another cold and snowy day in London. One of my favorite parts of the river cruise was getting to see the Globe Theater, something I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I had forgotten was located in London. We ended the river cruise and headed over to Westminster Abbey and then hopped on the bus towards Buckingham Palace.
We ended our trip to London by participating in a London pub crawl. Although we regretted it the next morning as we took planes, trains and automobiles back to the airport to catch our flight, we were glad we got to see some of the nightlife London had to offer.
All in all, I’m glad I got to visit London but it’s definitely not on my list of top places to go back. I think the city was a little too busy for me and the sights were too spaced out. Perhaps if we had more time to see everything at a more leisurely pace, I would have enjoyed it a little more. If I do go back I definitely want to go up in the London Eye and walk across Abbey Road.
Cheerio for now! Can’t wait to see what other places I’ll go and sights I’ll see during my next 102 days abroad!