A lot of adventures, a lot of mishaps, a lot of gelato
To quote Joey Tribbiani: LONDON BABY!
London is one of those cities I have always wanted to visit and explore. I have always loved the English culture, especially the music scene, and have always wanted to see the place that inspired and produced such amazing musicians. Whilst I was not able to experience the London music scene as I would have liked in the very short time I was there, I did manage to squeeze a lot into what little time I had. I went into the map of London and did everything I could.
After the drama of Croatia, Jess and I touched down in London Town with relatively little fuss, making it to our hostel, Clink 78, from the airport without any trouble. There we spent two hours cramped out hiding in one of the beds in our hostel room waiting for my other two friends, Monica and Sarah, to arrive so I could surprise them. The longer we waited the more anxious I was getting, I was dying to see my girls after six months! After sustaining a head injury, trying to get a camera to record the reunion of course, we decided to go downstairs and bumped into the girls as they were coming in to the hostel. It was so good to see them and we quickly went and had delicious a reunion dinner at Betjeman Arms Pub near Kings Cross Station.
The next day we decided to get acquantied London with a free walking tour around the famous monuments of the city, starting in Hyde Park next to the Wellington Memorial. The tour was around three hours and we walked all over the city, seeing all the big tourist sites like Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Our tour guide, Andy, was a brash and hilarious University History major who spoke about a million miles an hour. He provided us with some really interesting and funny history about all the sites, and the royal family, and had the driest sense of humour of anyone I think I have ever met.
My favourite story was the romantic legend of the Chanel symbols on the lampposts around Westminster city. Coco Chanel had a decade long relationship with Hugh Richard Arthur Grosvenor, The Duke of Westminster, and legend has it that as a token of his affection he embossed the lampposts of Westminster with her famous fashion symbol. How romantic is that?!
After our long walk in the cold (seriously England, I like you, but as an Australian your ‘summer’ disappoints!) we headed to another pub for lunch, where I indulged in typical bangers and mash, delicious. We then headed to the London Eye, which is what I was looking forward to seeing most in London because I LOVE ferris wheels. The line did not take as long as I was anticipated, and we were only waiting for about twenty minutes before we got to go on. The ride takes about thirty minutes, and is quite slow, but provides a breathtaking view of the city. For what it was I thought it was very overpriced, but it is one of those things you have to do when in London.
We then headed on another walking tour, called the Grim Reaper Tour. This woman brought us all around the East End of London telling us all about the history of Jack the Ripper, which was so interesting. I was just expecting to run into Phil or Peggy at any moment outside the Queen Victoria Pub. For those of you who have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, I was introduced to the English soap opera EastEnders since I was in the womb, and it is based in the East End of London. It is completely over the top dramatic and ridiculously depressing but I always end up watching it when I visit the family in Ireland. I couldn’t wait to ring my mum and tell her all about it. I definitely recommend doing the tours, by Sandemans New Europe Group, they are so informative and are a great way to find out the more quirky history of a city. It is the history textbook you wish you had in high school.
The next day we started out in Picadilly Circus, and ended up getting stuck in the MnM store for a lot longer than we anticipated, it was just so beautiful, colourful and fun. We also hit up a London tourist store, which had the most One Direction and Beatles paraphernalia I have ever seen in my life.
After we headed to the British Museum, which was such a beautiful building, and explored the Egyptian wing where we saw some of the mummies, it was actually really weird. We didn’t spend too long in there and after headed to Notting Hill and I had the most delicious English breakfast for lunch.
We walked down the famous Portobello Road, where I was delighted to find such eclectic and vintage shops with so many amazing things. I was in shopping heaven! The street is filled with colourful buildings and little markets and I was so surprised that I only bought two t-shirts out of all the things I saw that I wanted. I loved Notting Hill and I could have spent all day just strolling through the markets and spending all my money in their shops. Unfortunately I did not run into a dashing Hugh Grant lookalike but that’s life for you, isn’t it.
That night we went to Apollo Victoria Theatre to see Wicked on Broadway, and I was beyond excited for this. I have spent my life growing up with music and I absolutely adore musicals. I also love the songs from Wicked, after teaching them numerous times when I was a singing teacher. I am actually probably the most annoying person to see a musical with, I singalong to every song, and I am always bouncing in my seat with a big goofy grin on my face. I am a musical dork, and I take pride in that!
The musical was really good and I loved it, whether any of my friends loved sitting next me during it is another story, but you’ll have to ask them.
So what I got out of London was this: The tube is really small but really easy to get the hang of, I am obsessed with English accents (swoon!) and about an extra five kilos on my body from the great food. Also, it is really hard to tell whether an Englishman is joking or being serious.
After a few exhausting days of exploring this city and barely scratching the surface, we rose bright and early the next morning at 5am to start our twenty one day Topdeck Tour. Twenty one days, seven countries, four crazy girls from Australia. Bring it on!