I was so excited to be able to fit in one last trip before the end of the semester. For our girls’ trip, Nicole, Chrissy, Brittany and I first traveled to the United Kingdom. So we may not have seen Robert Pattinson, gotten inside the majestic gates of the Buckingham Palace or touched Kate Middleton’s baby bump, but I loved London! Flowers were in full bloom for the springtime, we didn’t see a single rain cloud while we were there, and we had the best time perfecting our British accents and taking on the royal city.
My favorite day in London started off with a free walking tour of the city! We grabbed lattes for the tour and our first stop was the Buckingham Palace, right in time to see the Changing of the Guards. Outside of the Palace was beautiful as rows upon rows of blooming flowers were seen everywhere. Since the Royal Standard flag was not flying, we were told the Queen was not at home.
One of our guides told us a funny story about a man who got drunk one night, climbed the fence to the Palace and got inside! He set off so many alarms that security thought something was wrong with the system, so they shut it off. The man found his way to the wine cellar and helped himself to a bottle of the Queen’s wine, before visiting her in her quarters. The man was arrested when the Queen found a way to call security, but then soon released because there was no law set in place about trespassing in the Palace! The very next day a law was made.
On the way to Trafalgar Square, where many public events and demonstrations take place, we were taken down little side streets and were told stories behind special buildings we would have never noticed if we had toured London alone. It was so cool to hear the funny stories behind the city! In London you have to pay more money the more windows you have, so many windows are bricked up in order to avoid paying for them. Also, on the roads, the words “look left” and “look right” are written, in order to help confused travelers when crossing the street, since they drive on the opposite side of the road in the UK! Thank you London for saving my life multiple times during my visit.
The tour took us to Parliament Square, where we saw Big Ben! I always thought that Big Ben was the clock tower, which is actually quite small, but it is the name of the 13-ton bell inside of the tower! Westminster Abbey is also in Parliament Square, where I of course asked how much you had to pay to get married where members of the Royal Family have their weddings. Our two tour guides were stumped, but agreed that you would have to have quite a sum of money. I guess I will just have to marry royalty.
After the tour, we grabbed sandwiches (I tried a cranberry brie baguette for the first time ever and loved it!) and headed back to Parliament Square to enjoy lunch on the grass, in the bright, warm sun, with a view of Big Ben and the London Eye in the distance. Afterwards, we hopped into a red phone booth nearby and had a fun photo shoot session. On the tour, two different phone booth styles were pointed out. We learned that the second version was made because men were complaining that they had to take their top hats off when going inside to make a call, so a second, taller version of the phone booth was created.
The rest of the afternoon we spent walking the guided tour route backwards, this time going at a slower pace to take pictures and soak it all in. We took pictures with the guards, walked through St.James Park and throughout the city.
That night Nicole and I decided to head out to see London all lit up. We were exhausted, but we were so glad that we went! We walked to the London Bridge and down the “Queen’s Walk.” We also went to the Tower Bridge and made our way to see the London Eye and Big Ben. Blue and white twinkling lights illuminated trees and walk ways, making the city quite a site at night. It was almost 2 a.m. and the metros were closed, so we hopped on a double decker bus to take us back to our hostel. It was a bit of a challenge figuring out which bus line would take us back, but we eventually figured it out and enjoyed the view of the city on the top level of the double decker.
The next day we went to Camden Square, where there are open air markets and little shops. Then we made our way back to the city center for more shopping around Piccadilly and Bond Street.
I loved everything about London and already miss hearing “Cheers, love!” in cute British accents every day. I was sad to leave, but also excited to continue our girls’ trip in Holland! Cheers, London!
Check out my video from London here!