Wednesday, June 11, 2014

First full day in London

This was my first morning waking up in London and it will be a memorable one. I woke up to the sound of construction because the building next to ours is having major work done on it. It was around 7am and I could not fall back asleep. It was about 9:30am when I finally got out of bed and got a text from one of the guys in our group saying he and two other girls in our group wanted to go and see the crown jewels and whatnot, so I hopped in the shower and got ready. I was running a little late like I always am...and myself, Kent, Krista, and Ashten took the tube, or tried, to the stop right outside of the Tower of London.
I swear it feels like everywhere we want to go, it ends up taking at least an hour to get there! Oh well, we got to the tower of London and it was amazing. We stopped at a gift shop and got some goodies, I went to go purchase my ticket and got the student discount which was such a good deal. We ate at this hip little cafe and then headed to the castle. We tagged along with a tour and whose tour guide seemed to be straight out of the time of Henry VIII! He had so much character, and made many a joke about Americans, ha ha. We walked around and heard stories of scandal, murder, and little known facts about the tower, which was actually made up of many towers, and then we were off to do whatever we pleased. We decided to go to the part of the tower to see the crown jewels and they were something only one could imagine in their wildest dreams. There was a spoon, a sphere, a sword, a vestment, and crowns on crowns on crowns! We weren't allowed to take pictures but if anyone reading this blog has a chance to go see the crown jewels, DO IT!
We finished with our visit and decided to go take a picture by the Tower Bridge, which was right next to the Tower of London. It was a beautiful view and we snapped a few pictures too. We stopped and got some ice cream and headed to see if we could get a double decker bus tour but found out it was about 29 pounds which just didn't seem worth it. We talked it over and decided to just go to the huge landmarks in London ourselves! We ended up taking the tube to see Big Ben, see the London Eye, walked to Westminster Abbey and where parliament was held, and walked to Buckingham Palace, all in ONE day. It was long, but oh so worth it!
A little story that I liked from today was that I walked into the Westminster Abbey gift shop to ask which side of the church Kate Middleton walked through and a kind woman told me it was the side that we were on. She told me as well that just this morning she saw Prince Charles walk into the church for a service and acted so nonchalant about it!! I asked her if she was star struck and her response was, "No, I see him rather often so it didn't wind me up too much." (Just say that in your head in a British accent and you'll understand how I felt after she told me that!) So funny. When we got to Buckingham Palace, I was just in awe. It was massive but really peaceful at the same time. We took a few pictures but went to sit and relax where the marble and gold statue stood across from the Palace. It was nice to just sit on the stairs and look around us. At that point, it really hit me that I was not in America anymore.
We left about 30 minutes later to head to the underground station and head back to our apartment at the Baron's court stop. We got off of the tube and walked towards our apartment looking for a nice sit-down place to eat. We decided to eat at a southwestern American restaurant which surprisingly had options from Mexican food, to Italian food, to good old fish and chips! I had the fish and chips which came with peas as well and it was delicious, especially for my first time having them! The bathroom was downstairs which was a little odd, but it was still a nice bathroom (random note).
We paid for our dinner, and decided to all give our waiter a tip even though we had heard that it was uncommon to do so in the UK. He was a great waiter and was very personable and able to give us some tips about London, and add a few jokes in too. We all put together 12 pounds as his tip and I walked over to give it to him. I told him that we loved having him as our server and we would be back soon and when I handed him the money, he looked so confused! I explained to him that we just really enjoyed him and we had a great dinner and he was so thankful and told us to come back any time.
We all decided to stop by the little market by our apartment and get a few things. After that we headed back to our apartments and that is actually where I currently am right now. Everyone is still out and it's about 12:20am here. The sun didn't go down until almost 9pm or so but it was such a pretty day today. Not too hot and just a little breeze. I'm sitting in our common room with the window open and the sounds of traffic are weirdly calming. It's nice here, I just can't wait to start visiting places and people! Every day keeps getting better and I'm hoping it will stay that way until the 24th! I'll be writing again tomorrow at about this time so good night and "Cheers" from your Pirate in London!

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