Monday, August 31, 2015

London (retrospective)

As I was going through some photos the other day, I spotted a bunch of shots from the London trip I took with friends back in 2005... a decade ago!  I am one of those Royal Family/Royal Baby internet followers (and I watched the Royal Wedding live back before William/Kate had two kiddos) and I love BBC shows...  so there's definitely a few things I'd love to do if I could ever get back to that great city.  But first...  here's a flashback to my trip in 2005.

My semester abroad buddies DL and EL were down for a multi-day trip to London, so we hopped a bus in Paris and rode it overnight to the city.  The bus drove onto a ferry, then debarked at Dover and continued its drive.  It was much cheaper at the time than getting there by train!  I remember being proud of how frugal we were... We each packed a small backpack, slept on the floor/tiny sofas at EL's friend's flat, and I wore the same jeans pretty much every day.

My favorite place during that trip was the Tower of London.  The tour was a must, as I've always been fascinated by the Tudors.  I also walked by the Crown Jewels at least a half dozen times.

Tower of London

We also took advantage of free museum entry to see the British Museum.  My favorites were the Egyptian exhibits, and it was exciting for me to see the Rosetta Stone. (It was smaller than I'd imagined.)  We also explored the Tate Modern and walked by Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, and explored my favorite paid museum, the Victoria & Albert.  I loved the focus on design there, especially "everyday" objects over history.

The British Museum
Another interesting thing that we did was watch the House of Commons in action at Parliament.  We were nerdy college kids, so of course we wanted to see these raucous politicians in action!  They were entertaining for sure, and I came away thinking they were much cooler than American politicians.  Maybe I thought the accents made it better?  Not to mention Big Ben is right there.

We also splurge on tickets to do the London Eye ferris wheel, accidentally but perfectly timed to catch sunset over London.  Incredible!!!

Big Ben & The London Eye

Skinny College Aubrey... riding the London Eye!

Photo taken from the London Eye
We did a number of other things on the trip:

  • Walked by Buckingham Palace
  • Rode in one of those cool black taxis (expensive)
  • Rode the Tube (subway)
  • Saw two West End musicals, CHICAGO and The Woman in White (the latter was a terrible Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, no longer exists)
  • Watched the latest Harry Potter movie (Goblet of Fire, it had just been premiered and released the night before!)
  • Ate in Chinatown
  • Shopped at Harrods (I bought a tiny coin purse)
  • Took photos in a red phone booth, snapped a photo of a double-decker red bus
  • Bought a Union Jack sweatshirt

Buckingham Palace
All in all, I'm impressed in retrospect how much we did with so little planning ahead.  I think we were there for 4-5 days in total before we caught the bus back to Paris.  We had a little map book and we just made our own itinerary as we went.  We were scrappy and resourceful, and I don't remember us blowing our budgets by any means to make it happen... even though that year the Pound was kicking butt against the Dollar and Euro!

My favorite photo from the whole trip.

Things I'd Like to Do Next Time I'm in England:

  • Highclere Castle (Downtown Abbey) and Chatsworth House (Pride & Prejudice, The Duchess)
  • Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter
  • Tower of London, again, because it's awesome
  • Stonehenge (mixed feelings on this one, some people have said it's underwhelming?)
  • Eat Indian food, because I wasn't acquainted with the cuisine last time and didn't try any
  • Track down something for a photo op that reminds me of Doctor Who or Sherlock

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