By Kayla Walters, Spring 2017
Thursday, January 12th
Leave Harlaxton for London
Today I found out I can’t sleep on buses. Luckily for me this was a 3 hour bus ride where everyone else fell asleep immediately!!!!
Essentially we got to our Hotel (The Royal National Hotel). Walked around for a little bit. Ate at Pizza Express. Went to bed.
Friday, January 13th
We began our journey by visiting Leicester Square to see if there were any cheap tickets for shows that night at the various theaters in town. My heart skipped a beat when I saw "Wicked" flash across the screen. It had been almost 10 years since I had seen the play and I was eager to watch it once more. With the ticket only being £21.50 I decided it was fate and bought it. The purchase was the most spontaneous and exciting thing I have done to date...minus the whole picking up and leaving America for a semester.
Tower of London
As suggested by our host family we went to the Tower of London. We did a little tour with a beefeater and then got to spend the rest of the time exploring the castle on our own. Side note, the Tower of London houses the crowned jewels because apparently the Queen has a really small closet and couldn’t fit them in there.
This was our "beefeater" who gave us the tour (he also doesn't know why they are called "beefeaters")
Things I learned
• The Queen and I have very different styles. While I told my mom "I want people to yawn when they see my prom dress," Elizabeth liked to wear Project Runway-esque clothing. To each their own.
• 531.6 carats is apparently an option when you are royalty. Now that I know this I simply can’t accept anything less.
Things I questioned
• Why are WKU’s 50 year-old dorms slowly starting to crumble while England's castles are standing strong like it hasn't been over 1,000 years?
• How many pigeons can one country have?
This is hands down the cutest bridge I have ever seen. Honestly, I’m just wondering how Louisville is able to charge people to go over their new, ugly bridge when England let me go on their old, beautiful bridge for free...twice (my navigation skills in the UK are similar to my navigation skills in the USA).
Once it was 2:30 PM and we realized we had not yet eaten, we decided that it might be a good idea to stop for lunch. We ate at the Red Lion where I got a plain hamburger. I can only take so much adventure for one day.
A picture symbolizing my love to try new things
Sight Seeing (Westminster, Big Ben, London Eye)
Apparently it’s just "Westminster" and not "West Minister." No matter how I say it, it was simply lovely.
I learned that this is actually the Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben is the bell inside of the clock. Studying abroad is a constant educational experience.
I was beyond excited to see the show. It was a little tricky to get to (I started to walk through a construction site to get to the theater (as one typically does) until someone yelled at me to stop because apparently I was not authorized to be there. English people can be so funny about stuff like that.)
Anyways, the show starts at 7:30 PM and I finish sprinting to my seat at around 7:31 PM. While I was still panting for most of the opening song I knew I had made the right choice by coming. It was just as wonderful as the first time I saw it. I’m also convinced the person sitting next to me thought I was out of mind because I couldn’t help but smile through the entire performance. I simply could not get over the fact that I was watching my favorite show whilst studying abroad. 2 dreams, 1 international flight.
After the show Angel Ann (another WKU ADPi that saw the show) and I decided we needed to find dinner. Not wanting to over immerse ourselves in the English culture too early on, we decided on McDonald’s.
Side note, while I have noticed that Europeans are far skinner than Americans, I did not appreciate them trying to pass off their small cup as a medium.
Saturday, January 14th
After forgetting my Oyster Card (you need this to get on the Tube) and literally sprinting half a mile (again thank you SHA track team) back to the hotel to grab it, we were off to Abbey Road. I envisioned a closed off road with a line where you would politely wait your turn to take the iconic picture. Instead, I found a highly trafficked crosswalk where the cars were less than pleased with the iconic site being in the middle of their route. Despite the challenges we faced, we made sure to get the signature tourist picture and not get hit by any cars which was truly remarkable given our situation.
Our next stop was to see Liz, but she was busy babysitting for Will and Kate so we had to take a rain check. Apparently, we must have tried to cash in our rain check early because it started pouring when we got there. Luckily, I was smart and made sure to bring an umbrella with me to London. Unluckily, I left it in my backpack in the hotel. Regardless, the building was beautiful and we got to catch the tail end of the changing of the guards which was exciting to watch.
Me doing WKU things at non-WKU locations
Cafe Bella Maria
We found the cutest place ever to eat at for lunch. Making sure I stayed true to my American ordering habits, once it was my turn I said, “I have a complicated order” and proceeded to create my own sandwich for them to make.
Cafe Bella Maria
Parent Trap House
Next stop was to the Parent Trap House. Before we went I asked if it was the Mom’s or the Dad’s house. Surprisingly it was the Mom’s (she lived in London) and not the Dad’s (he lived in Napa Valley).
Anywho, the neighborhood was absolutely beautiful and the worst car parked on the street was a BMW that couldn’t have been more than 5 years old. Safe to say my 1999 Honda Civic and I would have it in perfectly here. We also found out that the house in fact was part of an apartment complex and not a standalone house as the movie portrays it to be (learning so much this first week!!!)
The house in real life
The house in the movie
Then we went to the Camden Market where approximately 9863479 vendors lined the streets. We walked around and looked in the little shops until we decided that all the walking we had done for the day was finally catching up to us.
At 5:23 PM we arrive at the British Museum. For all those who are unaware, the British Museum closes as 5:30 PM. With one quick lap around the museum, we spent the remainder of our 7 minutes sitting on a bench in one of the exhibit halls. Again, the amount of walking was setting it.
So far the only time I have felt truly homesick here is when I caught myself thinking about El Maz's tacos. To combat this we ate at Tortilla that night where I was able to get 3 tacos and ease my nerves.
Blooms Pizza Café
Almost immediately afterwards, Kristen and I went to a café near our hotel. I got a bacon and cheddar sandwich and a bag of mnm’s. I’m just trying to see if the “Study Abroad 15” is real or not.
Sunday, January 15th
Hampton Court Palace
The school took us to Hampton Court Palace on our way back to the manor. We got to explore King Henry VIII’s and William III’s living quarters which was really cool since we are learning about them in British Studies. They had free audio tours which was super nice since most of the rooms were pretty barren as far as informative plaques went.
Me laughing at the fact that the castle I'm living in is prettier than one we were visiting
On the ride back I was once again reminded that I still cannot fall asleep on buses.
In summary, London was 10/10. Next stop: Edinburgh, Scotland!