Friday, November 14, 2014

Eurotrip Part One: London

I recently took a trip to England and France and had such an amazing experience! I started off in London visiting my friend Ciela and spending the weekend with my sister Lexi. Then I headed to Bath with Lexi where she is studying abroad, and took day trips to Cardiff and Weston-Super-Mare with my friend Ben. Then my parents came to Bath and we all travelled to London together. And then finally I went to Paris with my parents before heading back to London to catch my flight to New York! It was definitely a whirlwind, but it was so great! I was so happy to be back in Europe, and now after spending more time in London, I am even more confident that it's the city where I want to live someday :)

My trip lasted almost three weeks, so I am going to break up my blog posts into several parts so it's not too ridiculously long. And I will start off with the first city I was in: London!
Me saying bye to Chloe since it was the last time I'll see her until Thanksgiving.
Based on her facial expression, she was obviously very upset that I was leaving.
Aw I miss my little puppy, but it's only a couple more weeks until Thanksgiving now :)
And I'm off to the airport, suitcase in hand!
Before I get into telling you about my time in London, I want to mention my flight because it was awesome! I flew on Virgin Atlantic, and it was by far the best airline I have been on before. As soon as I walked onto the plane, it just felt so cool because the lighting inside was all purple and all of the flight attendants were so friendly! And the food was great, the movie selection was amazing, and even the safety video was fun! From now on, I'm going to fly on Virgin Airlines as often as possible :)

My flight to London was a red-eye, so I arrived around 10am, completely jet-lagged and exhausted. I took the tube from Heathrow and met my friend Ciela at her work near Marble Arch where we were reunited! I hadn't seen her since June when she visited the US, so it was so great seeing her again! After meeting up with her, she went back to work, and I headed to her flat for a much needed nap!

Later on, Ciela and I met up again for a very exciting start to the trip. Her co-worker had VIP tickets to the Chelsea football match and invited us to go! We got a free three-course meal with unlimited beer and wine, and then we had box seats for the match. The food was amazing, and the match was so much fun! I will admit I started to fall asleep a couple of times because I was so exhausted and jet-lagged, but I still had a great time, and Chelsea won!
selfie with Ciela before the match

The next day, Ciela had to work again, but I had a fun day exploring. She lives right next to Hyde Park, so I spent my day walking all over the park, which was so nice and relaxing! My favourite part of the park was Kensington Gardens and Kensington Palace which were both so pretty!
At one point, there was a swarm of hundreds of pigeons, swans, and geese.
I'm afraid of all three, so I was feeling pretty anxious! There were some people
that were actually trying to pet and feed them though. Those people are crazy!
the Princess Diana Memorial
the Prince Albert Memorial
Kensington Palace, followed by the beautiful Kensington Gardens
After a day of exploring the park, I met up with Ciela when she got out of work, and we went for a classic English experience: afternoon tea! We went for tea at the Royal Horseguards Hotel right in central London, which was such a beautiful hotel! Ciela used to work there, and her friend was there to greet us with champagne when we arrived! For tea, I got chai, and we got lots of amazing sandwiches and desserts to go with our tea, and scones at the end of the meal. It was really fun, and I'm so happy I got to experience an authentic London afternoon tea!
a scenic ride to our afternoon tea sitting in the front of the double decker bus

 Then that night, we decided to go out! Ciela knows a club promotor who got us into the opening of a new club in central London. The club ended up being kind of boring, but there was amazing free food there! We were brought sushi and dumplings which tasted so amazing! After that club, we headed to one of Ciela's favourites: Maddox. We met another promotor there where we got some free drinks and had a really fun night hanging out and talking to a bunch of new people!
sushi, sashimi, and cocktails... YUM!

And then it was Friday, and Ciela was heading home to Holland for the weekend. (I was originally supposed to arrive in London a week later, but after I was offered the position at L'Oréal, I had to change my flights and come earlier, and unfortunately Ciela had already booked her flights home for her mom's birthday.) But on the bright side, Lexi was coming to London that day with her study abroad program, and she decided to stay in London with me for the weekend! Lexi's program went to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre until about 4pm, so before meeting up with Lexi, I explored some more of London!

I started off by taking the tube to the Financial District (I just gotta say, I spotted some major hotties walking around that area haha ;) I literally spotted about 50 contenders to be my future husband haha). Along with all the eye candy, I saw the Gherkin and then made my way to the Thames. I walked all along the river all the way down to the Tower of London and walked over the Tower Bridge. Then I walked along the South Bank, seeing the HMS Belfast, City Hall, the Shard, Borough Market, the Millennium Bridge, and then finally the Globe Theatre. I met up with Lexi after her show got out, and then the sister weekend had begun!
the Tower of London. All the red poppies are a tribute to World War I since it started
exactly 100 years ago. The memorial surrounded the Tower and looked really incredible.
the Tower Bridge
the Financial District including the Walkie Talkie and the Gherkin
the Millennium Bridge and St. Paul's Cathedral
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
reunited with Lexi!
 After dropping off Lexi's suitcase at Ciela's, we headed out for dinner. We went to a UK chain called Wagamama that does Asian fusion, and it was delicious! I had heard great things about Wagamama before and it definitely lived up to my expectations! I got a chicken and shrimp teppanyaki, Lexi got some ramen with lots of good stuff in it, and we got some chicken dumplings to split. Just writing this is making me crave Wagamama so much, and I really wish we had it in the US!
Wagamama dinner... so delicious!!
 Then we were craving some cocktails, so we decided to go to an amazing place called Giraffe that I had been to the first time I was in London. Giraffe is a chain, so I'm sure there are locations all over the city, but we decided to head to the one I had been to before in Belgravia, and walking from Marble Arch, it ended up being a lot further than we had thought! But at least we got a nice little tour of the city along the way :) We walked down Oxford Street, through Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square where there was a Malaysian festival going on, then we saw the London Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and then finally, after about 3 hours of walking, we finally found Giraffe! I got two amarettini cocktails, which were just as delicious as I remembered them!
Piccadilly Circus
Three London icons in one shot: Big Ben, the London Eye, and a red double decker bus
Big Ben
our cocktails from Giraffe! They make the best cocktails ever
 After getting our cocktails, we made the wise decision to take the tube home. But, while we were on the tube, I started feeling really sick and almost fainted! Luckily when I started feeling really bad, we were just getting to Ciela's stop, so we sat down for a few minutes, and I realised that I must have been really dehydrated. I usually drink a ton of water, but I guess I forgot to drink enough that day because I was so excited about being in London. Then on top of that, I walked for hours earlier in the day and then hours with Lexi at night, and I had a couple of cocktails. So after that, I made sure to drink a ton of water throughout the rest of the trip!

The next day, Lexi and I decided to check out an area of London that neither of us has been to before: the trendy area of East London called Shoreditch! Shoreditch kind of has a reputation of being really hipster, like the way Williamsburg is in New York. It was so cool! There was a ton of awesome graffiti all over Shoreditch and we came across a few vintage markets that had some really cool things.

After exploring for a while, we headed to King's Cross Station to see the sight that was probably at the top of both of our London bucket lists: Platform 9 and 3/4! We are both huge Harry Potter fans, so we absolutely loved seeing this! We got our pictures taken "running into the platform", Lexi as a Gryffindor and me as a Ravenclaw. It was so awesome :)
Hogwarts, here I come!
 After going to Hogwarts, we walked through Covent Garden where there was lots of good food and street performers, and then we went back to Ciela's to rest a little bit. Our feet were killing us from all the walking, and I was especially exhausted after three days in a row of constant walking. After sitting in bed, planning out where we wanted to get breakfast the next morning, and massaging our feet a little bit (TMI?), we went over to Paddington nearby to meet up with Lexi's friend for a drink. Two of Lexi's housemates in Bath were also in London for the weekend, and we went out to a pub with her friend Abby. We all got ciders and just had a nice chill night. That was fun because pub culture was an aspect of the UK that I hadn't really experienced yet!
 The next morning, we went out for something we had both been wanting to try: a traditional Full English Breakfast! We found a restaurant near Ciela's in an area called St Christopher's Place that ended up having amazing breakfast! Our Full English Breakfasts came with eggs, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, beans, toast, and tomatoes (which neither of us likes, but they looked good for tomatoes)! The breakfasts were so delicious, and even after having a few more Full English Breakfasts throughout the rest of the trip, I think this one was the best one I've had!
 That night, we had a bus booked to Bath, and before that we decided to go back to Hyde Park. Lexi had never seen it, and I loved it before, so I was happy to go back! We saw Speaker's Corner, where there were a bunch of guys preaching about Jesus, haha. The park was pretty full compared to when I had gone a few days before, but it was still nice and relaxing. After walking through the park, we walked through Kensington a little bit before getting dinner and heading to the bus.
I am going to live in a house like this someday
Before heading to the bus to Bath, of course we had to get some London phone box pictures!
For dinner, we went to an Asian restaurant called Inamo that was probably the coolest place I've ever gone for food. The table was completely interactive. You could look through the menu, including pictures of all the food, and then place your order all through a big touch screen on the table. There were also games you could play against someone else at the table, see a chef's cam in the kitchen, shop, order a cab, and so many other things. The food was delicious too! I unfortunately didn't get any pictures, partially because I was distracted by how awesome the restaurant was, partially because I was completely exhausted, but trust me that it was the coolest place ever :) 

I had an amazing first leg of my trip in London! Check out the next post to hear about what I got up to during my time in Bath!

1 comment:

  1. I loved reliving your experience with you. You and Lexi are gorgeous!