It’s been more than a week already since I had a break from school and those two weeks off were the perfect time to study in advance for my exams. Though they are also a great opportunity to do some traveling. When my family and I were discussing what we were going to do this year, I suggested, as I suggest the same thing every single time we try to make plans, to go on a city trip to London. Due to certain circumstances, being our yearly trip to some place in the Netherlands was cancelled, they finally agreed and so it came to be that not a long time after that we were sitting on a train headed to that incredible city.
Now I have to say, I did visit London once before as a school trip, but it’s quite something else since you have to stick to a schedule and you need to do some tasks. When you visit something on your own, you can choose whatever you want to see and when you want to see it. That’s exactly what we did.
The way there went pretty great, besides the fact that we had to get up way too early to catch our train. Though I don’t really have the right to complain as I slept almost the entire way there. It takes two hours to travel from Brussels to London and it’s mostly through a tunnel (it passes underneath the canal between England and France) so there wasn’t much to see. For me, that meant the perfect opportunity to catch some sleep.
On our first day we went full-on touristic with a visit to Buckingham Palace, a boat-tour on the Thames and a ride on the London Eye. It’s perhaps a bit cliché to go and visit all of these things, but I feel like they are kind of mandatory whenever you’re visiting London. These are the things that come to mind first when I think about the city and you should have seen these at least once in your life. So that’s what we did. It’s also kind of a good thing that all of these attractions are nearby one another, so it’s very easy to just go around and do a lot in one day.
We were treated with the good old British weather as it was nice and sunny and suddenly it began to hail. Not just a tiny bit, but a full ten minutes of non-stop hail. After that it just stayed nice, but also grey for almost the entire day.
Our first visit after we checked in at the hotel was Buckingham Palace. We hid under a tree in Green Park during the aforementioned hailstorm, if I can call it that, which perhaps wasn’t the greatest idea as a tree doesn’t offer that much shelter. When that was finally over we went to the Palace to take a photo from every angle possible and posed with the Victoria Memorial situated on the nearby roundabout. Unfortunately we didn’t see the change of guard, but we were okay with that. A visit to Westminster Abbey (not the inside though), the Supreme Court and the Houses of Parliament with the Big Ben ensued. I must say that these are some gorgeous buildings. I can’t believe the amount of detailing on those exteriors. It’s really magnificent. After that we went for a tour on the Thames. It’s a quick and easy way to see all the buildings nearby the river, well the outside of those buildings that is. And that with the hilarious commentary from the guide who is actually not really a guide (inside-joke, apologies). To end our day we took the London Eye for a spin. When you reach the top, you get an amazing overview of London. We had a bit of bad luck as it started to rain in the middle of our ride, so for the second half we couldn’t see a lot thanks to raindrops on the windows, but it was fun anyway.
Our schedule the following day consisted of Camden Town and Covent Garden. I had been to Camden Town before, but for some reason I missed a big part of it and it’s quite an important part actually. I had only seen the long and colourful shopping street, but now we took this little path to the side and discovered a whole new section of London. There are tons and literally tons of little shops and food stands to be found. We almost got lost in all the little intertwining streets and paths. I was truly amazed by how many stores and bars and more stores there were. After a long while of strolling around we finally found our way back to the main street. There, I finally visite a real comic book shop (which we don’t really have here where I live) and bought something, because how could I not.
In the afternoon, we took a little detour to Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square. We took inside the massive MnM’s World, though we didn’t buy anything since it’s rather expensive and they’re just MnM’s really. As someone who’s studying communication management, which is partly about marketing, I was baffled by how one brand was able to maintain a store with 4 floors and filled with merchandising about a single product and to be able to attract that many people. It’s astonishing really. Anyway, when we were tired of seeing those little chocolate treats covered with different colours, we headed to Covent Garden.
We strolled around for a bit in the marketplace and took a pause when we saw a street-artist doing some stunts with a unicycle and chainsaw whilst making fun of people in the audience. We visited the London Film Museum where they had an exposition of the vehicles used in the James Bond-movies called Bond in Motion. It was quite fun to see all these cars and motorcycles paired with some footage from the movies. We grabbed something to eat and were looking forward to our evening entertainment.
We figured that since we went to visit London, we definitely should go see a musical. We decided rather quickly that we would want to go to The Lion King. The original animated classic was already magnificent, but I have to say that this musical was even better. It’s so good to experience this live. Sure, it’s not easy to portray wild animals on stage, but they did it in such a beautiful way that you are fascinated from beginning to end. If you ever get the chance to go see this musical, I highly recommend you do so. Or at least give the soundtrack a listen.
You could say that the last two days of our stay in London was about culture. We took at tour inside Shakespeare’s Globe and I actually learned quite a few new things about him and the theatre. When I visited it with school, if I remember correctly, our guide told us some different things than our guide now. From there we crossed the Thames using the Millenium Bridge (Harry Potter-fans will know which one I’m talking about). That bridge leads you straight to St. Paul’s Cathedral, which is a magnificent building to say the least. It’s huge. While my father actually went inside the cathedral, me and the rest of my family enjoyed the sun for a bit and let our feet rest as you do quite a lot of walking there.
After we had lunch, we payed a visit to the Tower of London. It’s a fortress or castle near the Thames that has now been transformed into a museum. It’s divided into several parts and offers an entertaining and educational experience for visitors.
On our last day in London we didn’t do an awful lot as we had to get to St. Pancras Station a bit in advance in order to check in for our train. The only thing we did that day was a quick visit to the National History Museum. We didn’t have the time to visit the entire museum, but we managed to do a good part of it. It’s a really fun and interactive museum and a very big museum, you can spend a long time there.
The visit to the museum was the last thing we did in London before we went home. You can’t believe how disappointed I was that we had to leave already. I wanted to stay so much longer. London is a great city with many different sides to discover. I’m suggesting everyone to visit London at least once in your life. If you have visited London already, what did you visit that I may have missed and should visit next time?
I’ll see you later!