What an amazing city London is!!! My last trip on this continent was to this great European city. Our last exam got over on Wednesday at about 5 pm and we left at 730 pm. We took a ferry (more like a cruise ship) from Hoek van Holland to Harwich, England. We arrived real early in the morning (630 or so) and took a train from Harwich to London. We finally arrived in Downtown London around 1030 in the morning. From there, we checked into our hostel and began to explore the city.
Our first stop was Westminster Bridge. This bridge crosses the River Thames and provides views of Big Ben, Parliament, and London Eye (a large ferris wheel which offers a great view of the whole city). After admiring these places, we walked back across the bridge and headed towards Westminster Abbey. This church was amazing and was much more than a church. Every coronation that has taken place in the last 1000 years has happened here. Many kings, queens, and nobles are buried and memorialized here. Poetâ€™s Corner contained many memorials and monuments of some great writers, poets, playwrights, composers, etc (some of whom are actually buried in the church). Shakespeare, Dickens, Chaucer, Handel are just a few examples. After we left the church, it was pretty dark (at 430 pm) and so that limited our sightseeing for the rest of the day. We were pretty fatigued, so we went back to the hostel for a relaxed night.
The following day, we were up and about by 8 am. We traveled by metro all the way across town to Wimbledon. I used to play tennis in high school and am a big fan of watching tournaments so this was one place I had to go. Regrettably, we didnâ€™t partake in the tour. However, it was nice to kind of wander around the premises and take pictures of center court, the grandstands, the tournament brackets, etc. Later on, we took a hop on/hop off bus tour which was recommended to us by some girls from U of L. I am really glad that we did that because London is a huge city, and it is not possible to see all of it by using the metro alone. The tour took us to Marble Arch, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Bridge (again), Picadelli Circus, and Buckingham Palace. The tour also included a panoramic river cruise on the Thames River. It was quite nice and relaxing to see all the sights from a warm and comfortable boat.
Once we got off the boat, we walked around the Tower of London, the notorious prison and symbol of royal power in London. Later, we walked across Tower Bridge which is simply awesome. As the night progressed, we eventually reached Hyde Park (which I believe is Londonâ€™s largest park). We were greeted with a huge festival which was a combination of a cultural festival, county fair, and a winter festival. There was lots of good food, things to do, and festive Christmas lights and decorations. The last thing on Friday was a pub crawl around a part of town called Covent Garden. It was nice to get out and experience the nightlife (which isnâ€™t that good compared to other cities) and meet some new people.
Saturday was our last day in London. We used this day to see the lesser known things in London. We checked out of the hostel and went to see the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. Right beside that, was Kensington Palace. Once again, we didnâ€™t go in, but it is nice to say that I was there. From there, we went back to Trafalgar Square to take some more pictures (when we werenâ€™t on a moving bus). We then crossed the Thames River and found Shakespeareâ€™s Globe Theater. After a few pictures, we crossed back to the other side of the river to see St. Paulâ€™s Cathedral, which looks more like a government building than a church). Last but not least, we went to see Chelseaâ€™s (my favorite soccer club) stadium on the West End of town. Afterwards, we hurried back to the hostel, grabbed our bags, and traveled by train to Harwich for our journey home.
We made it back in Holland at around 8 or so on Sunday. However, there was a big snow storm the previous night; consequently, our first train got postponed for about an hour. Then, we were stuck at a nearby train station for 2 hours before any train arrived. Luckily, the one and only train was going in the direction of Den Haag so we avoided taking a taxi. Although it was a pain to return home, it was well worth it.
London was just a small step below Rome in the number of things to see and do. I could have easily stayed in London for another 2 days and been extremely occupied. The people were extremely friendly and helpful, and the public transportation was the best that I had ever used. My only regret was not going sooner in the year. London in December is quite cold, and I struggled to stay warm. Nonetheless, London was a great way to end my long string of European journeys.
Thanks for reading,