Translation: I went to London!
YES London. Although I love visiting places in France, it was so nice to go somewhere that I didn’t have to work to communicate with people! It was my first time ever travelling without an adult (I know, I am an adult! But I mean with someone who is responsible for all of the complicated travel-things) and I was so thankful that I was able to do this in an English-speaking country. I love speaking French, don’t get me wrong, but there is just something comforting in knowing that if there is a problem, you will be understood by the people around you!
So…last week Thursday, my friends and I left Grenoble at 7 am to catch our 10 am flight in Lyon. We took “Easy Jet,” which is a British airline that travels to major cities all around Europe. I would highly recommend it for anyone looking for cheap flights, but be forwarned, the planes are pretty small and rough on take-off and landing!
We had to get on the plane outside!
We got to London around 10:30 (there is a 1 hour difference between Grenoble and London) and took an “Easy Bus” into the heart of the city! After eating lunch, we checked into our hostel. It was the first time I had stayed in a hostel with other people in our room, so I was pretty nervous! Thankfully, there were no issues with this…we had four other people in our room, three of which were also American students studying abroad!
We finished all of this around 4, a bit later than we had hoped, so we nixed our plans to visit the British Museum that evening. We instead went straight to the British Library and Kings Cross. For anyone who doesn’t know why Kings Cross is important to me, it is the location of Platform 9 ¾, the famous Hogwarts Express platform from the Harry Potter series. I know, I know…I am such a nerd…but that is just who I am :)
When we got to Kings Cross, we had no idea where the Platform was. We knew that they had moved it outside of the actual station because there had been too much commotion near platforms nine and ten, but there were no signs or anything saying where to go. We were debating on whether or not we could pluck up the courage to ask someone where it was, when we found it! Thankfully we didn’t have to be the people who were searching for Platform 9 ¾…
The St. Pancras Hotel...it was on our way to Kings Cross and was too pretty not to show you!
So...this is Kings Cross! Not the same building they use in the Harry Potter films, so it was slightly disappointing.
I was sooooo excited!!!!
Inside the British Library! It was so cool...there were so many old books!
After the British Library, we promptly took the “tube” or the metro to the theatre where we were going to see…duh duh duh daaaaaa…. WICKED! I know, how did we afford that? Well, we sat in the veeerrrrry top of the theatre, that’s how! We ate dinner at a pub before the play. I got the classic british meal of “Fish n’ Chips.” Although the picture doesn’t look very appetizing, it was really good!
I almost bought these...but I figured that I didn't need to see facial expressions :)
The stage was so cool...that dragon was even able to move!
The performance was incredible. There are really no better words to describe it! If you ever get the chance to see Wicked…don’t pass it up!
After taking the tube back to our hostel, we prepared for our day of walking by going to bed on time! Unfortunately our roommates didn’t return until 2 in the morning and were not very good at being quite while they got ready for bed! I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep, let’s just say…
On friday, we spent the day near St. Pauls Cathedral, exploring all of the sights. Instead of describing all of it in a story, I am going to list what we did, and then give you a “picture tour” of all of it! I am pretty sure it would take you a day to read if I included all of the little details, so think of this as if you are walking the same route we did…
Tower of London (not inside, it was too expensive!)
Monument to the Great Fire of London
The London Bridge
Shakespeare’s Globe (once again, not inside…)
The Tate Modern Museum (Modern Art…)
Old Bailey’s Courthouse
St. Pauls Cathedral
The Tower Bridge!
The view of Tower Bridge from London Bridge!
London Bridge...waaaaayyy less impressive than I expected seeing as there is a song about it!
Anyone recognize this bridge? Yep...it was destroyed at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince!
We had lunch at the best place ever. Eat. I got tomato soup and salt and vinegar "crisps." This place has to come to the U.S.
The view of St. Pauls from Millenium Bridge!
I loved this random yellow door...
- The front of St. Pauls. It was so much bigger than I had expected!
The ceiling of St. Pauls. Sorry for the awful quality...
Just a note…we walked past the cathedral during the afternoon, but we didn’t go in until later in the evening for the “Evensong” service because it was too expensive to go in when there wasn’t a service…not that I didn’t want to go to the service! On the contrary, it was one of my favorite parts of the day! The Men and Boys choir of St. Pauls lead the service, and they were simply amazing. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures of the inside of the cathedral…I snuck one from the inside of my purse…which is why the quality is so terrible!
Everyone needs a typical telephone booth picture, even me!
Old Bailey's Courthouse...the judges and jury still wear white wigs during the trials!
My first British Policemen on horses...I was really embarrassing and had to take a picture :)
After we left St. Pauls, we had to find somewhere to eat dinner. The whole weekend, we ate foods that we were not able to find in France. Friday night, it was a burger! There is no way to find a good burger in France, so we went to The Gourmet Burger. It was really good! I got one with horseradish and Portobello mushrooms.
My first burger in three months!
After we ate dinner, we took the tube back to our hostel area and decided to get dessert at the pub close by. We encountered some really great singing…done by russian? german? men…not really sure what language they were speaking :)
The next morning, we headed out for another day of exploring! We took the tube to the Hyde Park station and started our morning there…
Here is the list of our destinations for saturday:
The Marble Arch
The Wellington Arch
Buckingham Palace (and the Changing of the Guard)
The National Gallery
Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament
The London Eye
The British Museum
Whew….what a long list!! Well, here are the pictures from the day! Enjoy the tour :)
We started out at Hyde Park! Speakers Corner, where there are usually people on soap boxes sharing their opinions :)
Unfortunately, on a Saturday morning it is not very busy...
We walked around the beautiful park for a while...it used to be King Henry VIII's hunting grounds!
Serpentine Lake separates Hyde Park into two sides...it was really pretty :)
We were taking pictures by the lake, when suddenly we were surrounded by runners!! There was a race in the park that we didn't know about :)
This is the road known as "The Mall," which leads to Buckingham Palace! The color of the trees were so beautiful.
Arriving at Buckingham Palace for the Changing of the Guard :)
The Guards arriving to the Palace Gates...
The Parade of the Band arrives next!
As we walked into Trafalgar Square, we could see Big Ben in the distance!
My Lunch #2, from another restaurant that NEEDS to come to the U.S...this time I got roasted red pepper soup with my crisps :)
The National Gallery...home to a great collection of impressionist art!!
The countdown to the summer Olympics in London has begun!
There was a guy in the Square drawing all of the Flags in the world, and people were donating money to their flag...so we gave some American Dollars!
We ate scones with clotted cream and jam in front of Big Ben :)
Big Ben!!!! And my new poppy pin, which is what people in England wear to remember Armistice Day.
Westminster Abby! Unfortunately, I wasnt able to take any pictures inside...so sad!!
The view of the London Eye and Big Ben from Westminster Abby
Well, that was a marathon of pictures! I know they were all pretty grey, but that is how London is! Thankfully it didn’t rain all weekend! In order to get into Westminster Abby, we attended the Evensong Service there too. It was even better than the one at St. Pauls! They had a men and boys choir just as St. Pauls did, but there was more scripture reading. I absolutely loved it.
After we had finished seeing the sights for the day, we ate dinner ate a pub. I got steak pie because it is a British classic :) It was pretty good….but the picture is not very appetizing, so I will spare you. We walked around for a while after dinner because it was Guy Fawkes night, and there was supposed to be fireworks, but we decided to turn in early. We had to get up at 2:45 be ready to check out at 3:30…our plane left from the airport at 7, so we had to leave really early! Unfortunately, my alarm went off an hour before it was supposed to because I hadn’t changed my clock back…my friends were not too happy with me when we figured it out…we went back to bed for an hour (not that I fell asleep again) but we agreed that if I hadn’t woken us up for those extra ten minutes, we probably wouldn’t have made it out in time! We took a double-decker bus (eeeekkkk!!!!) to our “easy bus” that would take us to the airport. It was surprisingly busy around town at 3:30 in the morning…there were a few times where our bus was completely full! So crazy….
My first double-decker bus!!
Our bus ride got us to the airport just in time to make it to the gate before it closed. I was a bit stressed, to say the least, but obviously I am safely back in France, writing this blog! Overall, the best “first trip without adults” ever. Although I do wish that I could have shared my experience with my family…
Hope you enjoyed the incredibly long post!