Last Thursday, Lindsay and I took a 4 day trip to London! It was great! We got on the train, and right when we got on I got a text message from Alistair (one of my flatmates). He said that all of the airports were closed in the UK because there was a volcano in Iceland and there was a huge ash cloud over the entire UK. It was not safe for planes to fly. Here is an article about that. Lindsay and I were seriously considering taking a plane to London…luckily we decided to take the train. After 4 hours and 45 minutes, we arrived in London. This was our first time in London so we planed to do everything.
We took the underground (tube) from King’s Cross to Victoria Station. It only took about 5 minutes to walk to our hotel. The hotel was an old row house and the location was perfect. After we checked in, we walked about 10 or 15 minutes to Wesminster Abbey. Unfortunately it closed about five minutes before we arrived. So we decided to take a cruise on the Thames River instead. This cost about 7 pounds compared to the bus tour which cost like 25 pounds! The cruise was perfect. We saw the Parliament, Big Ben, the London Eye, London Bridge, Tower of London, and Tower Bridge. The tour guides on the boat were not professional tour guides, but they were pretty funny. We passed by the Tate Modern (which is a Modern Art museum). The tour guide said that he went there a few year ago and left his wallet inside the Museum. When he came back a few hours later to get it, he found it on the floor and about 20 people standing around it taking pictures. This was because it was a modern art museum and they thought the wallet on the floor was part of the exhibit. (I thought that was funny).
After the cruise, we walked to 10 Downing Street where the Prime Minister lives. We went to the gate, as close as we could. We could definitely get closer than the White House. Then we saw that Trafalgar Square was about 10 minutes away, so we decided to go there. We planed to go there on another day, but we decided to do that then because it was so close. On the way, I saw a building that I recognized. I remember that I saw it on my flashcards when studying for my Art History text last year. It was the Banqueting Hall by Inigo Jones! (Those who have taken that class know which building I am talking about). We got to Trafalgar Square and there were so many people there. There was a huge fountain with statues of lions next to it. The National Gallery of Art was there, but we did not go inside. After that, we walked about ten minutes to Buckingham Palace. We saw a few guards, but they were not the guards with the fuzzy hats. Both of us were craving Italian food. So on the way back to our hotel we saw an Italian flag and it turned out to be a perfect Italian restaurant. We walked into a small restaurant with pictures of famous people on the wall that ate here before. I ate exactly what I wanted: Pasta with seafood…perfect. After a long day of traveling and walking we headed back to our hotel.
Banqueting Hall by Inigo Jones
The next day we woke up pretty early and headed to Wesminster Abbey. We were one of the first ones there and it was definitely good to beat the crowds. By the time we left, there were a lot of people. We took an audio tour of the Abbey. We saw where Mary Queen of Scots was burried and also where Queen Elizabeth (the first) was burried. After the tour, we took the tube to the British Museum. Here we saw the Elgin marbles and the Rosetta Stone. In the courtyard of the museum, they put this modern roof over it to enclose the space. I recognize this same roof from the National Portrait Gallery in DC! I remember when I went on a tour of the Portrait Gallery, they said that the roof was coppied from the British Museum. After the museum, we walked about thirty minutes to our lunch place. This restaurant was recommended by Frommer’s and it said it was in the heart of the Financial District. When we walked in everyone was wearing suits or dressed up because they were coming from work. But it was a very good restauraunt. After that, we went to St. Paul’s Cathedral which was about a five minute walk. We walked into the Cathedral and I could not stop looking up at all of the details of gold mosaics and paintings. It was incredible. It was huge too! We walked 530 steps to the top to see an amazing veiw of London. Some of the stairways were very small and we even had to duck and some parts. Then towards the top we climbed these small, metal, spiral staircases. We finaly made it to the top section of the dome. I could see all of London from the top! If you are visiting London, I highly recommend climbing the 530 steps. It was totally worth it. After we managed to get ourselfs to ground level, we walked over the Millenium Bridge. This bridge is a modern bridge which was put there in 2000. In the sixth Harry Potter movie, this bridge is the one that twists and breaks. Then we walked about twenty minutes over to Covent Gardens. This is an area where there are great restaraunts, shopping, and there are always street preformers. We then arrived at the Lyceum Theater to see the Lion King!! It was amazing!! It was different than the other plays I have seen (Phantom of the Opera and Mamma Mia) because it was very visual and there were so many colorful costumes. For the Phantom of the Opera, I was listening to the orchestra the entire time. For the Lion King, it was interesting to see how the movie was interpreted to a play. After that, we took the tube back to our hotel.
St. Paul's Cathedral
View from St. Paul's
On the Millenium Bridge
We saw the Lion King!
The next day we went to Portobello Market in Notting Hill. This market was in the movie Notting Hill. I think this was one of my favorite things this whole trip. There were so many stands selling antiques, jewlery, and also food! It was the best. It is like the Eastern Market in Washington D.C. but ten times bigger! After the market, we walked to Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. By that time our feet were killing us! We had walked so much the day before and that morning, that we decided to sit in the park for an hour and just take a break. The weather was beautiful so everyone was at the park too. There were a lot of people pattleboating in the river at the park. After our break, we had enough energy to walk to the famous department store: Harrods. It was pretty big. There was a whole section of teas, coffees, and chocolate. We had dumplings there for dinner. They were good! It was around 6:00 and we were pretty tired, so we just went back to the hotel and watched TV. It was nice to take a break.
The next day was our last day. Our train back to Edinburgh was at 3:00 and we had to check out of the hotel at 11. Since we would have our luggage with us, we decided to have a relaxing day reading in St. James Park. As we were walking there, we walked by Buckingham Palace again. We saw crowds of people and realized that the changing of the guards ceremony was about to begin in five minutes! We did not even plan to see it! We heard a marching band coming down the street, and they were the Buckingham Palace guards! We are sure that we heard them play “All that Jazz.” After about thirty minutes, we walked over to St. James Park and just read for about an hour until we went to Kings Cross for our train. We were pretty early, so we went to Platform 9 3/4 to get onto the Hogwarts Express! After that, we headed back to Edinburgh. It was a great trip and I will definitely go back to London!
Changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace
On my way to the Hogwarts Express!