After a miserably, ridiculously, scorchingly hot overnight bus ride, we had our first visit to London. The main purpose was Ele’s visit to the French Embassy to apply for a Schengen visa that will let her travel to mainland Europe. Her appointment was at 9:30am and we decided to stay the rest of the day to celebrate her birthday!
After her appointment, we walked through Holland Park to eventually arrive at an American food store in Notting Hill. The park was beautiful an we got to see a red fox, a family of peacocks, and we thought we were going to get attacked by squirrels, but turned put they were so used to being fed that they now com out to people and literally beg on their hind legs like dogs 🙂 In the end, they turned out to be really cute!
After the walk through Holland Park, we made it to the American Food Store (yes it is actually called that). Some of you may be saying, “You’ve only been in the UK for ~3 months!” Yes, I know. However, the cereal aisle here is about 1/1000 the size of the cereal aisle back home, and being the cereal fanatic that I am I was desperate to find some American cereals. After the temptation to buy the entire store, I bought 2 boxes of Captain Crunch and a box of Grits- all were on the clearance aisle and ended up being just as cheap as buying UK cereal.
After my American detour, we ate lunch in Elephant and Castle at a wonderful Colombian restaurant to fully celebrate Ele’s birthday. Once we had digested our lunch we headed towards the London Eye and Big Ben. I do have to say, I though Big Ben was bigger 🙂 Haha. It was still incredible to see the sites Ive heard of and seen in movies since I was little.
We soaked in the sites of Big Ben and the London Eye, as well as the Parliament buildings from both sides of the River Thames, and then had a walk around Westminster Abbey. While we were walking, we ran into a fellow Rotary Scholar, Rachel, who is studying at Cambridge and had gone to London for the day to take the GRE.
After a nice chat with Rachel and a final walk around Westminster Abbey, we headed towards Buckingham Palace. First, though we walked through St. James’ Park where we saw two pelicans floating in the lake–Who knew London was so full of wildlife? Hmph. Towards the end of the park we noticed the Princess Diana Memorial Walk which takes you right up to the gates of Buckingham Palace. It is fabulous and we stood gawking for quite a while. After taking it all in, we headed to Trafalgar Square.
I have to say, by the time we got to Trafalgar Square we were 100% pooped. Our feet were hurting (due to wearing boots that were warm, but very inappropriate for 13 hours of walking), we were tired (due to the severe lack of sleep on the overnight bus), and we were hungry for dinner. So, we made it to Trafalgar Square, did a quick walk around, took advantage of the amazing and the cleanest public toilets I’ve seen yet, and headed towards the bus station.
That’s the end of our trip to London. It was great, but we realized that in order to explore the city how we would like to do a 2nd (perhaps 3rd) visit is more than appropriate!