London, England

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London

“Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” – Samuel Johnson

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Indeed! Despite being the first to get lost from my tour group at Buckingham Palace — that’s what I get for being too caught up in taking photos — until a kind, elderly British couple came to my rescue by lending me their mobile, I officially crossed London, England off my bucket list a few weeks ago. As always, I am reluctant to use the term “crossed off,” as London is a place I would love to return to and where many friends on my tour group said they could even see themselves living someday.

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While I have a more general travel bucket list of countries I hope to see on Project Light to Life, rather than a list of specific bucket list-eqsue activities I hope to cross off in each city/country, I did have a mental list of sites/activities I wanted to pursue. Listed below are some of these sites/activities.

1). Stay in a hostel:

I was thrilled the first place we stayed in was a hostel. Sleeping on the top bunk (which included curtains, and therefore, reminded me of my own little club house), seeing international travelers around the same age group as me, and hanging out by the hotel bar, where every desperate soul sat hunched together, not speaking a word to one another, after finally acquiring Wifi, was an experience in itself.

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2). Visit Tower Bridge:

Yes, it was exciting to visit the bridge where James Bond and the Harry Potter movies were filmed, but I became even more excited when our tour director informed us the Spice Girls movie Spice World was filmed there as well.

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3). Visit Shakespeare’s Globe Theater:

Seeing this location made my entire trip! #EnglishMajorNerd

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4). Visit St. Paul’s:

While we did not exactly go into the church and were only able to take a bathroom break there, it was still a beautiful place to see.

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5). See Big Ben:

There’s something about seeing such an iconic monument that is exciting.

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6). See Westminster Abbey:

While we did not go inside the Abbey, even just passing the place where Chaucer is buried was cool enough for me.

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7). Visit Buckingham Palace and see the changing of the guards:

While I was disappointed the queen did not valiantly come to my rescue while I was lost at her palace, it seems as if her guards must have been alerted and came out to look for me.

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8). Ride the London Eye:

Being at the mental age of five, I become instantly happy by the thought of going on any type of “ride.” While I have been on one of the fastest, tallest roller coasters in the world, Kingda Ka, I am normally terrified of Ferris Wheels. However, because the London Eye resembled more of an observation deck, all fear went away.

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9). Cross Abbey Road:

I love the Beatles, so visiting this site also made my day. Although a bit unrealistic, I always pictured the road to be like an empty field, where visitors could simply pose as they wished, for as long as they like, until perfectly reenacting the Beatles’ stances. That would be nice, except for the road being an actual road! I feel for those poor souls who needed to drive along that road to get to school, work, etc, each day and are forced to take a detour route or who are probably tempted to run over the herd of tourists stopping in the middle to get a photo. #Guilty

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10). Visit King’s Cross and Platform 9 and ¾

We were a bit disappointed to discover that this area was turned into a tourist destination, where people wait an hour in line to take their photo in an area that is not even the actual Platform 9 and ¾ location featured in the film. Rather than waiting in line, we took a few photos of random families (Harry Potter’s next new cast) standing in front of the cart, then ventured off to find the actual location. A conductor directed us toward the area it was filmed, which he said was actually located at Platform 5 (Gasp! Those liars!) and informed us they removed the sign because its proximity to the actual subway had started to become dangerous. When another conductor saw us standing there, he told us we could visit the actual tourist attraction (the fake!) upstairs. “Oh, we know,” I said. “But we’re just pretending.” After looking a bit disturbed, the man walked away.

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11). Go on a pub crawl in London:

Free shots of Sambuca (that awful taste still lingers in my mouth) at every bar, signing one another’s t-shirts, and writing #SORandy in all caps on most peoples’ shirts, which our tour director informed us earlier that day was more than a name in London and that he was appalled people in the US and Canada are named that, summarizes the evening. Later on, two of my friends and I wound up joining the wrong pub-crawl and at an entirely different pub than where we were supposed to go. Getting lost seems to be a pattern with me.

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12). Visit Oxford:

Everyone and their second cousins should go to school here! The campus and surrounding schools that encompass Oxford are absolutely beautiful. If only it were that easy. #SoCollege #MuchWow

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Remind anyone of a fictional dining hall?

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13). Visit Stonehenge:

While of course it was neat to see this historic site, I think I was most impressed by the bus driver who came to pick us up at the stones and bring us back to our destination. She not only deliberately continued swerving the bus in a zig zag motion, but shouted “Weeeeee! This is the weeee weee ride! Weeee!” and when my friends and I kept cracking up, told us that we were keeping her sane.

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14). Take a picture in a telephone booth:

While cliché and touristy, I just had to. It’s iconic!

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15). Watch the last game of the world cup in a London Bar:

While my theory on sports is that they’re all trying hard and deserve a medal, I’ll admit it was cool to see how excited everyone else in the pub seemed to be about the game, including all of the chanting. For a short while, I amused myself by observing two girls who continued weeping uncontrollably as they realized their team was going to loose and, along with a few other people, got some photos, until one woman commented that people taking photos of them was “Fucking disgusting.” While I would have felt like a terrible person if their fish had died or they were sobbing over something other than a competition, maybe it was a bit mean. Or maybe the woman had been rooting for Argentina. Either way, I envy people able to get so passionate over sports and enjoyed observing everyone.

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And finally, like any great tourist destination, it was a must to at least browse some of the souvenirs:

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I have always enjoyed this quote about travel:

“We travel, initially, to lose ourselves, and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again — to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.” – Pico Lyer

In my case, I’m typically just getting lost.

Has anyone else traveled to London, or, even better, live there? I’d love to hear about your experiences there!

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43 Responses to London, England

  1. erikakind says:

    I am very happy for you, that you got the chance to visit this beautiful and charming city! I’ve been to London several times and love it a lot. 3 years ago was the last time. We also visited Stonehenge as well (my daughter spent 6 months in Salisbury for improving her English – we spent some days only there, worthwhile to visit). Also we went to Dover, Brighton, Portsmouth, Southampton, and the beautiful fishermen’s villages at the south coast.

  2. One incredible post,wonderful cities,blissful festivity.The smile are priceless.Jalal

  3. I so want to go there. It seems so sterile though. All I want to do is sit down with English people and have a conversation. They are my people, at least half of me.

  4. tracymartin says:

    Yay!! You made it! Looks like a wonderful trip and a super fun time with friends.

  5. btg5885 says:

    Thanks for the tour. It looks like fun was had by all. You reminded me of one of my business trips to London. I was by myself for a day, so I did a walking trip of London and stumbled upon many places, I may not have gone to otherwise, such as Churchill’s Underground HQ, Harrods, SoHo a few pubs, etc. The parks are so cool and so vibrant with the music and playing going on. Also, Abbey Road is not so safe where the Beatles and you walked. Thanks for the memories. Take care, BTG

  6. Great trip! Really loved the photos – memories. Thanks

  7. You can never get too much of London. Nice pix!
    Your story reminded me, that I need to go there again soon 🙂

  8. yasmine rose says:

    I love your pictures of London! It makes me proud to have been brought up in such a wonderful city. So glad you had such a good time (jealous you went to see Stone Henge, that’s on my wish list!)

  9. mfedgr8 says:

    Did all that but Oxford when I was England last. I wish I went back!

  10. Nikki Wilson says:

    A very belated welcome!! Glad you enjoyed it!

  11. barbosavl says:

    Lovely photos of a lovely time, by the looks of it. I live near London and go there a lot and will never have enough of it – my favorite capital!

  12. maggiemurphy says:

    I have fond memories of a week in London at the young age of 15. One night a friend and I took a bus the wrong way and ended up over an hour from our hotel! Luckily, a nice elderly lady pointed us in the right direction, and we made it back without a chaperones’ notice 🙂

  13. Ashley Rexford says:

    Love your pictures and descriptions. Makes me want to visit London even more than I already do 🙂

  14. eisyasofia says:

    Cool, you got a picture of a BookBench! I miss London!

  15. mytiturk says:

    We lived above a cake shop in Cheshire for a few years during our first few years of married life. Returned to tour E, S, I & W in 1995 for our 25th anniv. Your post took me back there. The sergeant who controlled visitors to Buck Palace was a hoot. When I complimented the state of the lawn on the nearby grounds he replied: “If you mowed your lawn every day for three hundred years it’d look like this, too.” He kept us all very amused. I’m sure it shortened his day. We chunneled from vast, gorgeous spread out Paris to London (the start of our great Insight Vacations tour) and really appreciated how close the sights were to each other. When you do return, do the Tower of London tour. The Beefeater who took us around was another “comedian.”

    Thanks for following my blog! I enjoyed your pure joy in this post.

  16. Hahaha love the part about acquiring wifi!!

  17. Reblogged this on iGotSol and commented:
    This girl travels right. Passionate about it all. If you like my blog, you’ll like hers! Happy reading!

  18. Hannah says:

    It is so fun to see you seeing all the sights I’ve visited before. Although London is 2 hours from where I live I love it so much and find the buzz amazing. You packed so much into your trip it looks like you had an amazing time 🙂 xx

  19. London . . . without doubt, the world’s greatest city! Glad you had a great time!

  20. bkpyett says:

    Thanks for my armchair holiday seeing London again. Last time I was there was 1975, before you were born!! Enjoyed seeing London through your eyes! 🙂

  21. Well written and great pictures! I am English and left there 5 years ago to live in another country. Your post gave me a very nice summary of the things I miss and the things the city has to offer. I am not sure how long you were there for, but it appears you crammed a lot into your visit! 🙂

  22. Hi Christine, I lived in London for 27 years and loved every minute of it. The saying is quite true that anybody who tires of London is tired of life. When I finally moved away from the city, it was only to Brighton and Hove which is one hours train ride to central London, so I’m still not that far away. I’m actually in the middle of writing a novel based on my life living in London (some fact, some fiction) because I simply had a real ball living there.
    Great post and glad you had a great time there. Maybe one day who will end up living there. If you do, I can guarantee fun, fun, fun.

  23. JustforToday says:

    Happy you got to enjoy my home town – come back soon, so many secret places to explore! x

  24. marybmullan says:

    Chaucer and Shakespeare… I’m green with envy. Great post!

  25. tomji22 says:

    Looks like you had a great time! I live just over an hour and a half train drive from London and am still overwhelmed by the stunning architecture every time I visit. It really is an amazing place. Do you think you’d ever go back?

  26. stemgir1 says:

    Have just returned from 5 weeks in Europe where we started in London. Thanks for bringing back such great memories of our recent trip. Looks like you had a blast.

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