Hey y’all! I have just flown back over the pond from the UK and am straight up EXHAUSTED.
My first trip to Europe was a smashing success. The weather was beautiful (for London). The city is fantastic. Wildly expensive, but insanely walkable and fun. I could have actually used an extra day to squeeze a few more activities in, but all in all, I was happy with everything we accomplished in a relatively short time.
I originally had planned on doing a 25 part recap of my epic journey to London, but I decided to save your sanity…because really, who needs 25 recaps of a single event?
Important things you need to know about London:
- They not only drive on the wrong side of the road, but they walk that way too. On several occasions I naturally forgot this fact and walked smack into someone.
- Apparently they are super Earth conscious there, because our hotel electricity was shut off unless you put your hotel key in a little slot by the bathroom. Us dumb Americans tried unsuccessfully to figure out why the hell our lights weren’t turning on before we gave up and went to speak to the concierge who informed us of our mistake after giggling at our stupidity.
- There is NO personal bubble. Someone is in your space at all times, even if their is no one else around, but especially in line (actually called in queue over there) or on the tube. Americans may be the only culture with personal space issues. There was not five minutes that went by where someone was not touching me, squishing me, stepping on me, hovering over me, etc.
- Music there is awesomely bad. But yet awesomely good. Number 5 song in the UK right now: http://youtu.be/vZLd81IHGQw
- “Steak” is actually ham in the UK. A fact I learned the hard way after ordering what I think is a delicious juicy 8oz steak and getting ham. What the fuck? Not that I dislike ham, but getting ham when you think you’re getting steak is just cruel. Obviously I couldn’t send it back either since I was the idiot that thought I was getting beef.
- Chips are fries and crisps are chips…but what I never realized is that pretty much every single restaurant in and around London gets their chips from the same freezer bag. They are the British equivalent of McDonald’s fries, uniform and boring.
- The British love their theatre. While we were there, there were at least twenty shows going at once and you could get tickets to them all, some of them relatively cheap. We paid 21 pounds (about $35) to see the 1500th show of Jersey Boys. It was truly amazing and a definite highlight of our trip. I wish it was always that cheap to go to the theatre here.
And now on to the photography! I took 224 pictures but for your sake I am not going to post them all…just the ones I like best from our first day in London, which included the changing of the guard, Picadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, the National Gallery, and Harrod’s.
First stop was straight to the changing of the guard:
We ended up getting a prime viewing spot for the changing of the guard after starting on one side, and thinking that we couldn’t walk through the gate, walked ALL THE WAY AROUND, only to realize we could have in fact walked through the gate. Oh well. The entire ceremony lasts about 15 minutes and actually was pretty cool.
From there we headed over to see Westminster Abbey (which they charge you a fortune to get into, I guess you have to pay to talk to Jesus these days) and Buckingham Palace (which is only open in the summer).
From there we headed over to Trafalgar Square to go to the National Gallery. Trafalgar Square really is gorgeous. Plus there are frequently street performers much like Harvard Square and Government Center so it made me feel a little bit at home.
After the National Gallery, it was on to the most exciting place of the day…Harrod’s. In case you have never heard of Harrod’s, it’s a seven floor department store that supposedly has “all things for all people.”
I literally could have spent an entire day just in Harrod’s. It is by far the biggest store I have ever been to and I was mooning over so much designer in one place. Of course, shopping at Harrod’s makes you feel poor, but just in case you want to walk out with a little souveneir, they have a special Harrod’s gift shop with the Harrod’s logo. Harrod’s is also known for it’s teddy bear, which has a million editions, but the bear also comes in life size. These life size bears live all around the store in different outfits.
Let me just tell you that it’s really hard not to hug a life size bear. It it wasn’t 1,900 pounds, I may have bought one.
After hours and hours spent in Harrod’s, Briar and I managed to score awesome tickets to the Jersey Boys show at the Prince Edward theatre.
It happened to be the 1500th show that evening, so the theatre was full and they did a raffle at the end (which we didn’t win). The show was absolutely amazing and now I know what everyone raves about. If you have the opportunity to see tis show and haven’t yet, it’s definitely worth a full price ticket (not that I paid that but I would).
Our first day in London was long and tiring, but definitely full of a lot of beautiful sights. And some not so beautiful because the rumor of the British and their poor dental hygiene are most definitely true. Ick.