Hello world! I write to you from my dorm room in upstate New York relishing this brief period of free time that I currently have. School has been going well, but more on that later. Right now, I’m reminiscing on the amazing summer that just “ended” yesterday. One of the highlights from my last high school summer included a once in a life time trip to London. My grandparents took my brother and I on a 7 day journey across the Atlantic from New York to Southampton, England on the world-renown ocean linear, the RMS Queen Mary 2. The voyage was a super relaxing and fun opportunity, but, for me, the anticipation to arrive back in my favorite city made me so excited to get to England.
I had been to London once before when I was younger, and my lasting impression of it was that we did not spend even close to enough time there. This time around, I had the same feeling of un-satisfaction that I had the first time I visited the city. I don’t know what it is about London, but it sure is a hard place to leave even with its infamous cool dreary weather. It might be the lively atmosphere, or the enduring charm of the storybook buildings, or, better yet, the quirky, yet attractive culture of tradition mixed with modern sensitivity. If you cannot tell, I love London, and, because of that, I will be sharing tips and suggestion from my trip in a three-part series while I desperately try to grasp onto the last glimpses of summer. It might take a while since I’m still trying to adjust to my new surroundings, but I hope to continue writing while in college.
When I arrived in June after a 2 hour drive through rolling hills of green, the city was a sweating thermos. Supposedly, the day before we arrived, the temperatures were the highest they had been in 40 years. Who knew we’d be complaining about the heat in London (of all places)? Still, we took advantage of the dog days of summer by walking around the bustling streets, and sipping away at delicious elderflower cordials from Harrods (a refreshing must try).
Walking the London streets has to be one of my favorite feelings. I probably looked like an idiot while I observed the walls, doors and iron work of the buildings, but, believe me, there was no way to prevent myself. Even though I was there for only 5 days or so, I made a habit of strolling around in the morning. I swear by the steps on my Fitbit, and it gave me much satisfaction to see myself easily crushing my 10,000 step goal early in the day. Between the quaint residential streets, and the majestic parks such as Hyde Park, there are plenty of fabulous places to explore. I highly recommend taking some time to observe the wonderful London surroundings when visiting the city.
The museum scene in London is rich with plenty of unique options ranging from culture, history, art, and science. This time around, I visited the Imperial War Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Both were extremely well done and insightful. The War Museum has an amazing interactive exhibit on World War 1 that walks you through the details of the war from the start to armistice day. There are many more exhibits throughout the museum, but I didn’t get the chance to explore due to the sheer amount of time it took to get through one massive exhibit. The V and A is a classic London museum that plays host to an immense collection of 3D art and design; all preserved in an old beautiful Neoclassical building. The renaissance tapestries and ancient sculpture galleries are wonders to behold, and I loved the British fashion history exhibit which showcases important work from both english and european designers throughout history.
You of course have to go see a show in London! There are plenty of broadway-esque shows playing in the west end theater district which are fabulous to see, but a lesser known secret is Shakespeare’s Globe on the south bank. The theater is a complete replica of the original with cheap standing room seats, basic scenery and balconies. The vibe is super fun, and the theater does a great job showing adaptations that appeal to younger audiences. I attended a performance of Romeo and Juliet which was super well done despite it being unconventional.
My favorite day in London was spent at the Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio which is located right outside of London. Being a crazy Harry Potter fan, I felt overwhelmed being on all the sets of my favorite movies. The tour is quite intensive, carrying you through multiple sets, both inside and out, and takes about 3 hours to complete. One big highlight is the butter beer that is available for purchase midway through the tour. They also have butter beer ice cream that I highly recommend as a way to cool off on a steamy summer day.
Suggestion: If you go visit Warner Bros studio, take the train from Euston station to Watford, a suburb about 20 miles outside of London. It’s fairly cheap and fast compared to a taxi. Once you arrive in Watford, shuttles will take you directly to the exhibit. For more details visit https://www.wbstudiotour.co.uk/getting-here.
Alright, next time, which hopefully will be a little bit sooner now that I’m starting to get the hang of this college thing, I’ll write about my shopping experiences and London fashion. Stay tuned!