Spring Break has officially begun and Rachel and I started by getting up at 6 in the morning to catch a 7 am bus. Well, I got up and Rachel’s alarm didn’t go off so I woke her up approximately 5 minutes before we had to head to the bus station. She was able to get ready and we didn’t miss our bus, so it was all good. Then we took a three-hour bus ride to London, in what turned out to be basically the last time we were sitting until we got on the bus to go home about 10 hours after we arrived in London. Once we got off the bus, we grabbed some food and headed out to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace (see additional photos). Honestly, I didn’t find it to be super exciting, it’s a lot of watching them march and hearing them drumming. It is impressive how in sync and together they were, but there were also a lot of tourists and so it was pretty crowded and a tad difficult to see.
We had bought tickets to go on the London Eye the night before, so we headed generally in that direction, with a few stops on the way. The first was Big Ben (see additional photos). I feel like there are a lot of buildings in London that you go and see, but unless you’re willing to spend a lot of money, you just kind of look at them, take your picture, and then go. That is part of the reason why I am so appreciative of how many museums have been free in the places we’ve gone to, but since it’s London, that isn’t as much of the case. But anyways, we saw Westminster Abbey (see additional photos) and Parliament as well. There were a lot of places around Westminster where people had laid out tons of bouquets of flowers and remembrances for the people who were hurt in the attack last week. It was a really moving and meaningful thing to see, just how many people wanted to support those affected by it. We then headed to the London Eye, and after about a 25 minute wait, got onto one of the little pod things and off we went. I don’t typically like heights, but I actually didn’t mind going on the Eye, partially because it went rather slowly and so it was easy to adjust to, like flying in a plane. And the view was absolutely beautiful (see photo below), I would also be curious to see what it looked like at night.
From there, we went somewhere I was very excited to go, the reconstruction of the Globe Theater. The original theater burned down when they were doing a performance of Henry VIII and a canon had to be shot off, but it ignited the thatched roof of the building and it all burned down. There’s now a parking lot where it used to be. This was one of the only places we paid to do a tour of, but I’m very glad we did. Our tour guide was absolutely wonderful, definitely theatrically trained, but also clearly had a good time telling us about everything. He gave a lot of good information that I hadn’t heard of before, so if you’re ever in London and interested in theater and Shakespeare, I highly recommend it. And there were also two very cute infants crawling around the stage, getting their photos taken when we got there, so that wasn’t too bad as an added bonus. They based the inside of the theater on reports of other theaters of the time (see photo below) because they don’t have any records of what the inside looked like. The theater still has shows in it, which is really awesome, there were some people rehearsing a sword fight when we got into the visitor center.
From there we went down the street to the Tate Modern, which is a modern art museum. I thought they had a really good system where some of the galleries were free, but some were paid, so people were able to see art, but they also still had a business model. And the free galleries weren’t that bad, we got to see a Picasso (see additional photos), a Matisse, and a Dali, along with a bunch of other cool exhibitions from less well-known artists. Then we started a mini-trek to see the Tower of London, which isn’t actually much of a sight as it is behind a wall (see photo below). A bonus to having an English history buff as your friend is that she will tell you all of the fun historical things about the sites you’re seeing, like how the Tower of London has had a large variety of functions throughout its years, including a zoo and a prison. We also got some ice cream while we were there, which was much creamier than any ice cream I’ve had before, and I really liked it.
We then took a break from doing touristy things and went to go find a friend of Rachel’s who works at a pub in London, we eventually did locate him, and said a quick hello and they caught up and all that jazz. At this point, we had walked a fair ways away from the bus station we had come in at, and we began the first of two hour-long treks on our way back to the train station. Our destination was Kings Cross Station, as I am a huge Harry Potter fan and wanted to take a picture at Platform 9 3/4. My feet began to hurt a good amount, but we did eventually make it to Kings Cross. I hadn’t realized, but it actually is a whole commercial thing, with a line and a photographer and props for people to use. It lead into a Harry Potter shop where I only bought two patches, but you could also buy your photo, although they do let you take a photo on your own, which Rachel and I did for each other (see photo below, and I don’t know what happened with my legs going bow-legged either).
We then started yet another hour-long trek back to the bus station. We got to pass a few cool things though, such as the British Museum (see additional photos), the theaters where Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and David Tennant in Don Juan in Soho are playing. We also went by Trafalger Square and the National Portrait Gallery, so there are many places that I could go to if I wanted to go back to London at some point, which I may. By the time we finally reached the bus station, my feet were hurting more than they’ve ever hurt before, and my hips had begun to hurt as well. If you want a few facts about the day, according to my phone, we walked 36,737 steps, approximately 15.8 miles. The bus ride back was a welcome relief from being on my feet, and I slept very well last night. It was quite a good day though, we got a lovely walk back past Buckingham Palace at sunset (see photo below).
I think it was a good start to spring break, although I am enjoying a much more relaxed day so far, in which Rachel and I have already watched The Muppet’s Treasure Island and The Princess Bride. I’m also almost entirely done booking flights and things for my trip around Europe with my boyfriend after my semester has ended, which is a relief too.