Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Eurotrip Part Three: Back to London

I recently took an amazing trip to England and France! This is Part 3 of 4, so to read about the first parts of my trip, scroll down to the two previous posts :)

After an amazing few days in Bath and Southwest England, it was time to head back to London! This time, my parents were joining too, which was exciting since they had never been to London before. By the time we arrived in London, it was getting late, so we just checked in at the hotel and then headed to a nearby pub for dinner! First of all, the hotel was insanely nice! My mom had found a really good deal online, so we expected the hotel to be decent and kind of average. But the location was amazing, right on the Thames near Big Ben and the London Eye, and as soon as we arrived in a taxi from the bus station, we were greeted by several doormen who opened the taxi doors for us and took our suitcases up to our room. Then we went inside, and the lobby was so fancy! At first, my dad and I were actually wondering if we were in the wrong hotel! But we were in the right place and it was perfect! 

So then we went to a pub down the street for some dinner and a drink, and the food was awesome! I got a burger with guacamole that I am seriously craving right now as I'm writing this :) After dinner, my mom was feeling tired, but my dad and I were feeling adventurous, so we decided to walk along the river to the London Eye. It ended up taking a little longer than we had expected (about 20 minutes), but it was so nice out and the views were amazing. Also, we discovered that apparently the Queen's Walk in London is the big make-out spot for London couples haha. Once we made it to the Eye, we sat for a little while, taking in all the scenery and watching street performers, before heading back to the hotel. 
artsy shot of the London Eye
The next day was exciting, because my family was meeting up with my German friend Vanessa! Vanessa studied abroad for a year at my high school when we were teenagers, and we've kept in touch ever since. I got to visit her in Germany at the end of my semester abroad in France, and then once she knew my family would be in London, she and her friend Nicole booked a trip to come for a weekend too!

We started off the day at Buckingham Palace to see the Changing of the Guards. Unfortunately, it was raining pretty hard and we had underestimated the crowd, so we couldn't see too much, but we at least got to see the guards walking in! (I'll have to make sure I see the Changing of the Guards next time I'm in London.) After it ended, we had planned to meet Vanessa and Nicole there, but again, we didn't realise it would be quite as crowded there, so we couldn't find them. We did eventually find them walking around near Westminster Abbey about 20 minutes later though, which was a perfect coincidence!
Buckingham Palace
the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace

After meeting up with Vanessa and Nicole, we all headed to Camden Market, which I've heard is really cool. It did seem really cool, but we couldn't explore it quite as much as we would have liked because it was so rainy! As soon as we got there, we were all pretty hungry, so we went to a fish and chips restaurant for lunch called Poppies. There was a sign outside that it has the best fish and chips in London, and I could see why! The food was delicious and the view of the main street in Camden was really nice.
the view of Camden's main street from Poppie's

After walking around Camden a little bit longer until we couldn't stand the rain any more, my parents headed toward the London Eye, and Vanessa, Nicole, and I headed to Platform 9 and 3/4. My sister Lexi had a class in London that day and was meeting up with my parents after she got out, and meanwhile, the rest of us wanted to explore some more! After going to Platform 9 and 3/4, we headed to Oxford Street to do some shopping. We went to the huge Forever 21, Uniqlo, Victoria's Secret, and the famous toy store Hamley's. Then we headed to Piccadilly Circus where we were meeting up with my family and my friend Ciela to get some dinner. I got to see Piccadilly Circus at night again, which I loved, and then we all walked to Chinatown for some food. The restaurant we found was pretty good and we had a funny experience with a pretty abrupt and impatient waitress! It was a fun night and it was so great to see Vanessa again after almost two years!

(P.S. For some reason, all the photos with Vanessa and Nicole are on my mom's camera, but once she uploads them to the computer, I will add them to my blog post!)
Piccadilly Circus
The next day, Vanessa and Nicole were heading back to Germany, but my family and Ciela spent some more time together! We slept in a little bit and met up for lunch near Westminster. We found an Italian restaurant that had some of the best pasta I'd had in a while! I got one with a rosé wine sauce, mushrooms, and chicken that was so amazing!
This meal was incredible! And for some reason it looks small in this pic, but it was actually pretty big!
After lunch, we walked around the area some more and then caught a bus up to northwest London to see Abbey Road. This was another part of London that I had never seen before, so I was really excited! My sister especially is a huge Beatles fan, and I really like them as well. I became a big fan of their music after I saw Across the Universe when I was in high school. At Abbey Road, there was a big wall outside the Abbey Road Studios that people wrote messages on. We signed the wall, and then of course got the super tourist-y walking-across-Abbey-Road pic! And Lexi even got so into it that she took off her shoes and walked across barefoot like Paul did on the famous album cover!

(Again, the pics of us walking across Abbey Road are on my mom's camera, but I will add them into this post as soon as I can!)
Downing Street where the Prime Minister lives
view of Selfridge's from the front of the double decker bus
Abbey Road
Lexi leaving her mark at Abbey Road
My dad's addition to the Abbey Road wall. LOL
Abbey Road
riding through Piccadilly Circus in the front of the double decker bus

After Abbey Road, we all hung out a little bit longer, and then Ciela headed home and my parents and I went with Lexi to the bus station where she was getting a bus back to Bath. Once she was on the bus, we decided to make the half hour walk back to our hotel. We saw some really pretty sights including Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and the London Eye, and then walked along the Queen's Walk back to the hotel. We had also stopped to get some McDonald's near the London Eye (I promise we're not that stereotypically American, but it was the only place open at that time on a Sunday night!), and took it back to our hotel where we ate in the ballroom that has a huge wall of windows overlooking the Thames and Big Ben :)
London Eye with my mom and dad!
The next day was our last full day in London, which was a little sad since I love it so much there and didn't want to leave quite yet. We started off the day at the same pub we had gone to on the first night we arrived and all ended up ordering the same meals as the other night haha :) But it was so delicious! And of course, we had to get one last London pint!
having a pint with my dad
After lunch, we took the tube over to Knightsbridge. My dad works for a company that has stores all over the US and also one store in London, which he wanted to check out. It was pretty cool and he got to meet one of the assistant store managers that he has worked with before! Then we headed across the street to what is probably the most iconic London store—Harrod's! I had seen Harrod's from the bus a few times, but had never been inside. It was so huge and cool inside and had kind of an Egyptian feel in some spots. And there was an entire floor dedicated to designer shoes called "Shoe Heaven" which I do have to admit was pretty heavenly!
After Harrod's we headed to a few shops on Oxford Street—Topshop, Miss Selfridge, and then Primark, which was insanely crowded! Then after a little shopping, we went to meet up with Ciela one more time before we would be heading to Paris the next day. She was able to get another afternoon tea discount at the hotel where she used to work, so we went to the Royal Horseguards Hotel for the same tea Ciela and I had gotten the week before, and it was just as amazing! They changed up the sandwiches a little this time, but they were still so good. This time I got a strawberries and cream tea which was so delicious!
Then, after we finished our afternoon tea and Ciela went home for the night, my parents and I made our way back to the hotel. In order to soak up as much London culture as we could before leaving though, we made a couple of detours! First, we walked toward Westminster and Big Ben which were really close to the hotel where we got tea and got some touristy phonebox pictures, and then we took the tube over to the Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. We walked along the South Bank for a little bit, and then headed back to the hotel.
the Financial District
the Tower Bridge
As always, I had an amazing time in London and was sad to be leaving the next morning. But I was also so excited because the next day, my parents and I were heading to the final city of the trip and another one of my favourites—Paris! Stay tuned to read my final vacation post all about my time in Paris, and then my big move to New York City!

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