Monday, September 6, 2010

The City of Walking

This weekend, I went with about 120 students from the school to London. We left on Thursday evening and took three coaches to the Russell Square area of London. Most of explored a bit of the city that evening, getting an idea of where we were in reference to the rest of the city. Our hotel was definitely not fancy, but then again, we weren't planning on spending very much time there!

Ashley and I with a Recycling Man in Covent Garden
Friday morning, Ashley, our friend Kate, and I got up and began exploring. Harlaxton's principal, Dr. Kingsley, and his wife had written out a very nice walking tour of all the sights for us to see. We decided to give that tour a try at our own leisure. We began walking in the direction we believed things to be, only realizing that the tour we had just had very vague directions, and didn't actually tell us what streets to take! We knew we were in for a bit of adventure knowing that the streets in London were not set up in any type of grid and would take you in completely the wrong direction if you weren't careful!

Big Ben - Though from afar I didn't think it was big enough to be the right clock tower...
However, me and my really good sense of direction got us to all of the things we wanted to see! We spent about 6 hours walking and saw Piccadilly Circus (the Times Square of London), Covent Garden (lots of shopping), Leicester Square (pronounced Lester - the theater district), the National Gallery (free!), the National Portrait Gallery (also free!), St. Martin-in-the-fields Church (where we ate lunch in a crypt), Trafalgar Square (my favorite one), the Horse Guards Parade (or at lease, the guards on the horses), Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the Thames River (which we now know to pronounce "Tims"), the London Eye (though I didn't get to ride it...), and finally Buckingham Palace (though there were NO guards to be seen!!).

I didn't get the chance to see the Tower of London or the Tower Bridge which was a little disappointing, but my feet were extremely tired by that time. While in Leicester Square, I made sure to buy tickets for a show, and so that evening I went and saw "Love Never Dies", the sequel to the Phantom of the Opera. I had great seats for a good price which was very cool. The show was definitely no Phantom, but the leads had great voices, there were tons of fascinating circus-type talents incorporated into the show, and I will never view the plot line to the original show the same again!

So touristy...but we had to do it!
On Saturday, Ashley, Kate and I explored the British Museum (also free!) for a bit. That place was so huge and had so much to look at, it was a bit overwhelming. What I had mainly wanted to see was the Reading Room, which had original copies of tons of famous literature and history books, and where many famous authors have gone to be inspired for their writing. However, it is closed for the next TWO YEARS. I was very disappointed. But I got over that by happening across a very exciting shopping area nearby called the Seven Dials. Lots of great places to window shop (a little too expensive for a traveling college student...) and a neat area to be on a Saturday.

All in all, we probably walked about 20 miles (no exaggeration) throughout the whole weekend. I felt very confident in my exploration of the city and never got lost. There was always so much to do, and definitely not enough time! Sunday was spent checking out of the hotel and taking the coach to the west end of London to visit Hampton Court Palace. I had no idea what the palace was about, but quickly learned from my (free!) audio tour that it was the palace most of the early kings and queen's had lived. Now the palace is focused on teaching about Henry VIII and his many wives. It was fascinating, but hard to take in after such a packed weekend!

I do want to go back to London for another weekend sometime this semester to explore a few more things that I didn't get to, as well as see the Opera and, of course, Billy Elliott. I'm definitely going to work on those plans soon! As for now, I'm lying low this week (although, keeping very busy) and hanging around the manor and Grantham for the weekend. I can't to crazy traveling all the time!

1 comment:

  1. Very cool Erin,
    I know how you feel, in China I loved when we walked around and saw the forbidden City, Great Wall Of China, Tiananmen Square.