I’m not great at planning things in advance. For example, I planned my entire fall break trip about two weeks ahead of time. Not the best idea when you want to fly somewhere and find accommodations. But, as things always do, it worked out.
Fall break was an awesome opportunity to spend an entire week alone. As an introvert, I find that I need time alone to recharge. To breathe. To think things through. I spent a lot of wonderful-silly-goofy-learning-exploring time with my friends from Linfield the first half of the semester, so a week away to refresh my mind sounded perfect to me. I was also excited to travel alone–really alone–for the very first time.
I wanted to go to a big city and get lost for a bit. I also wanted to go to a city with lots of history, culture, and fun things to do. Preferably with an easy and cost effective way to do all those things with as little stress as possible (this was the solution).
As I was planning, I remembered something: my favorite books and my favorite movies were written and shot in and around London (I’ll give you a hint: nearly any young adult you talk to could tell you about how these books influenced their childhood. Starts with Harry, ends with…Potter).
So, it was settled. A whole week in London. Get ready, this post is chock-full of photos!
Here was the general itinerary:
Day One: Arrive. Take underground into city with your giant backpack. Pick up London pass. Realize that it is 8 AM and you can’t check into hostel yet. Find breakfast. Decided to find hostel. Don’t die on the underground. Mind the gap. Sleep for a good long while. Try to find fish and chips and be horribly unsuccessful.
Day Two: Changing of the guard. Find that big guy named Ben. Explore the secrets of Westminster Abbey. Confuse Catholicism with Anglicism in front of a priest (oops). Take a boat trip on the Thames. Visit the Tower of London thirty minutes before closing time. Successfully find fish and chips. Have someone ask you if you can give them directions (this will happen to you more and more in every country you go to–something about your face says “I live here!” or “I know what I’m doing!” or “I won’t hurt you in the night!” You’re not sure which). Find hostel in the dark.
Day Three: Breakfast at Harvey Nichol’s. Visit the Victoria & Albert Museum. Find yourself most pleased with the gift shop and the piece of Seattle artwork in the lobby. Visit Kensington Palace. Take way too many pictures of the dress collection on display. Consider becoming a curator just because the exhibits were that good. Have high tea at Harrod’s. Peruse Harrod’s but decide you’ll come back to buy things when you’re successful and/or married to Prince Harry. Decide that next time you want to have such a posh day, you’ll take a taxi instead of looking at a map and saying, “Oh, it isn’t that far from this side of London to the suburb where my hostel is! I can walk!” You end up making it there anyway.
Day Four: Go on the best bicycle ride of your life, even though the bike is kind of awful. On said bike ride, see a huge ceremony for the Queen’s arrival back in England after months away. Visit Trafalgar Square. And St. Paul’s Cathedral. And Big Ben, again. Discover you are running out of money, but decide to say, “I’m only in Europe once” and then realize that this is probably a lie because you’ve been to Europe twice and wouldn’t mind living on this side of the pond.
Day Five: HARRY POTTER. Try to find the actual platform 9 3/4. Discover that they’ve put up a very strange photo opp in which a stranger lovingly holds out your (house-coordinated) scarf while another stranger takes your photo. Take train and bus out to Watford Junction and realize you haven’t been this excited since you were two and had Barney at your birthday party. Be awed by the gift shop (apparently you have a thing for gift shops). Take so many photos that you could make a book out of them. Stand in awe of J.K. Rowling and her empire. Resolve to include writing a book on the checklist for previous note of “become successful so you can shop at Harrod’s.”
Day Six: Visit the zoo because it is raining and you are running out of cool things to do with your London Pass. Stop taking pictures because you ran out of battery on your iPhone. Go back to hostel and pack since you leave tomorrow. Visit the British library and get a library pass, because why not? Decide to have one last go at it and find yourself climbing the 12 flights of swirly stairs at the Covent Garden underground stop (there’s a reason the elevators were mobbed). Have sheperd’s pie and sticky toffee pudding for dinner. Decide that even the food in London is growing on you.
Day Seven: Check out of hostel. Realize you have almost a whole day of sightseeing with your very large and overpacked backpack. Visit the Tower Bridge exhibition and discover some of the most beautiful views of London yet. Try to go back to British Library and be denied entry because of previously mentioned backpack. Cry a little because you are tired and want to go back to Vienna. Catch the underground back to the airport. Fly back to Vienna. Reminisce.
Thanks for stopping by.