Anywhoo, I took the Eurostar (a little gift to myself) from Paris to London on Thursday and was there until that Sunday. Don't get me wrong, I'm very glad I had the chance to visit Paris, but I wouldn't have minded one bit if I had to spend the entire week there.
I walked from St. Pancras station (connected to King's Cross) to the hotel my friend was interning at to drop off my things, and then walked literally all over London to find an ATM machine to withdraw some Pounds. I walked the entire Oxford Street, and then somehow made my way through the really wealthy part of London (the Mayfair area of town, to be exact) where I finally found a Barclays bank. I walked in and what do you know, they didn't have an ATM machine. What, rich people don't need an ATM machine???
So with the guide of the helpful bank teller, I walked to the next nearest ATM machine, withdrew some money, and right away sat myself at a cafe for a sandwich and some hot tea. (Did you know, they charge you more for sitting-in?)
After warming up a bit, I headed for my first tourist-y thing: the Churchill War Rooms. These are the underground rooms Churchill and his board met during WWII. Sounds nerdy? You're right on track!
But I'm not going to lie, I spent a good three to four hours in that museum. AKA I loved it. One of the coolest museums I've been to!
The next day, my friends and I walked from South Kensington (where the BU dorms are) to the British Museum (completely FREE---you literally just walk in.) Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, we all ate a large meal at a restaurant nearby, and ever heard of food coma?? Well, let me tell you, this was the worst food coma I have ever had. We were literally falling asleep while looking at the Rosetta Stone!
This was the meal. The downside of London: their
currency (the pound) is too freaking strong! This meal
in US dollars was about 20 bucks. :(
Inside of the British Museum.
The frieze from THE Parthenon. No biggie.
One note about the British museum though. Why is it that Britain gets to keep all these national treasures from all over the world? The Rosetta Stone? Parts of the Parthenon? Mesopotamian tombs, Egyptian artifacts, jewelry from all over the world, etc. etc. My friends and I were joking that the British forcefully borrowed these things as they worked their way around the world.
On a different note, something I was pleasantly surprised by when I arrived in London was that the iconic red double-decker buses weren't just for tourist groups. They are actually a part of London's public transportation system! Neat!
On the second deck, of course.
Kings Cross Station. The world now knows it
as where wizards and witches go to hop on the
train to Hogwarts.
The next day, we visited Kensington Palace which is in Hyde Park. Our friends who were studying in London got us tickets for dirt cheap. The palace looks like a huge mansion on a beautiful estate, but never have I been inside such a whimsical palace!
They (they as in whoever are in charge of these things) turned the palace into an interactive experience, where you learn not only about the history, but also get to play a little game as you walk through this newly-renovated palace. It truly feels like a replica of Alice in Wonderland. There was an expo of all the famous outfits Princess Diana had worn (cool!) and a heavy focus on Queen Victoria. I highly recommend it, especially if visiting with children. :)
Next stop: Borough Market.
I honestly could spend HOURS here. And when I say hours, I really mean HOURS. All sorts of cheese, mustard, olive oils, jams, preserves, Turkish delights, fish and chips, truffles, meringue, tea, etc. crammed into this little area. Not only was my stomach feasting on the lovely samples of weird cheese and jam, my eyes were having a party trying to take everything in!
The highlight, though, of our trip to Borough Market was coffee. Not just any old coffee, but coffee at Monmouth Coffee. The. Best. Coffee. I. Have. Had. To. This. Day.
Okay, I'm not a coffee expert, but I like my nice cup of black coffee on most days. But I'm not a Starbucks black coffee girl. I like the smooth, not overly bitter nor pungent coffee, and this coffee serious hit the spot.
It was a bit cold that Saturday, so to warm up we headed for this coffee shop. There was this ginormous line to get inside of the store, but having heard great things about this place (and also being desperate to warm up a bit), we patiently waited in this line for our cup of hot Jo. And I do not regret standing in that line one bit. If you're in town, hit Monmouth Coffee. Really good drip coffee. I'll leave it at that.
After Borough Market, we walked literally all of central London. I thought my legs would fall off.
On Easter Sunday, my friend and I went to Easter service at a nearby church another friend had recommended to me. It was so nice to be in an English service for the first time in three, four months.
We then reconvened with the rest of our friends and headed for afternoon tea. :) (I may post pictures of it later.) At first we were a bit bummed that we couldn't go to this one specific place but it ended up being for the best.
Our last stop was to see the "World's Largest Easter Egg Hunt." Apparently these huge eggs were scattered all across London leading up to Easter Sunday, and for Easter Sunday, these eggs would be relocated to this one central location. Hence, the an egg hunt for Easter Sunday. They had some cool, cool eggs. (Again, I may post pictures of it later.)
While we were there, we saw a couple of street performers, one of which was this stunt dude. I can't really call him a magician because he didn't really do magic, but basically he did one act with his Pogo stick. Entertaining, but not cool enough to donate money to.
The highlight was these three little boys that were standing in front of us. They were so intrigued! So adorable.
That night, Jo and I hopped on over to St. Pancras station to get on our Eurostar train back to Paris, munching on sandwiches and talking about life the entire two hour train ride. :)
What a fantastic Spring Break it was. Bliss!