This Thursday will mark three years since I’ve studied abroad (started on May 18th and ended June 27th). So to commemorate, I’m going to write posts about the different cities I visited while studying abroad in Madrid. Before I arrived to take summer courses, I flew to London to visit some of my college friends as they were wrapping up their spring semester. I stayed with them at the University of Westminster and let them show me around the place they called home for 5 months!
I arrived in London Heathrow around 9am and was picked up by two of my friends. We took the tube and eventually made it to the University of Westminster to drop off my belongings and meet up with the rest of the group. After freshening up, we headed out to explore and enjoy the weather – it was almost 80° F outside!
Day one – Things to see/do:
- Regent’s Park – We walked to a local supermarket to buy snacks and alcohol for our picnic in Regent’s Park. Regent’s Park is large and provides different activities for people of all ages; it was nice catching up, meeting new friends, people-watching and eating & drinking for a few hours.
- Buckingham Palace & the Changing of the Guards – We took the tube to Buckingham Palace where the queen resides. After taking many pictures, we began walking down Birdcage Walk where we stumbled upon the Changing of the Guards. This ceremony is when new guards take over responsibility and protection of Buckingham Palace from the old guards. We didn’t plan to watch this ceremony, but walking to our next destination gave us a front row view.
- Big Ben, Westminster Bridge & The London Eye – After walking less than 20 minutes, we made it to the Palace of Westminster where we saw the Elizabeth Tower (aka Big Ben). You can’t come to London and not see Big Ben, the Westminster Bridge and the London Eye – mainly because they’re relatively close to each other (roughly a 7 minute walk). I shamelessly took tons of photos in front of a red telephone booth and with Big Ben in the background.
- The Shakespeare Globe Theatre– Having bought tickets to a play ahead of time (Antony & Cleopatra),we walked alongside the River Thames from the London Eye to get to The Shakespeare Globe Theatre. The tickets that we bought were only £5, but they were for “yard standing” which means that you have to stand during the play. In hindsight, buying those tickets were probably not the best idea as we had walked a lot throughout the day, and having to stand for a long period of time (roughly 3 hours) made our feet sore. The play itself was good from what I can remember (I ended up taking a brief nap while leaning on the stage, jet-lag really caught me slippin’ ).
Day Two – Things To see/Do:
- Portobello Market – One of the most famous street markets in London, (besides Camden Market) Portobello Market offers souvenir shops, food stands, antiques & collectibles, clothes and more. This street is filled with many vendors, shops, a lively environment and beautiful architecture. I bought souvenirs and few pieces of clothing that were being sold at discounted prices.
- The London Cocktail Club – If you’re looking for a night out, I would highly recommend this cocktail bar – which has a few locations in London. We went to their location off of Oxford Street since it was a 5-minute walk from the university. When you first walk in it’s dark and dingy, but once you sit down the vibe totally changes! There was hip-hop, funk and old school music playing in the background and the bartenders were extremely friendly. We were able to find seats at the bar and quickly became friends with the bartenders. They offered us popcorn and fruit throughout the night. My friends came to this place often because of their happy hour specials; the day we went was ladies night, so when we bought one drink we got the second drink free. The cocktails were delicious; I remember getting the Jam-Jar daiquiri (a strawberry daiquiri) and another drink they lit up before serving us.
Where to eat:
- The Metropolitan Bar – A pub not too far from Regent’s Park, the Metropolitan Bar offers a traditional menu (e.g. burger & chips, fish & chips, nachos, chicken, salads and more) and cheap drinks. This pub serves people of all ages – including children. You can order food and include an alcoholic beverage with your order; this is only a couple of pounds extra to substitute from a soft drink.
I had an early flight to Madrid, so we went back to the dorms, ate and fell asleep. I’m not sure how I managed to wake and sober up in time for my flight, but I was pretty determined to get to Madrid .