Over the weekend I headed back to England for a second time to revisit London! The first time I traveled to London was when I was part of a French Exchange trip almost 6 years ago now and we took a day trip to the city. I wasn’t able to see a whole lot of the city so being able to go back again was really exciting!
I flew out on Thursday night to the London- Gatwick airport and was met by one of my favorite people in the world, Kerry! Kerry was one of my summer staff coordinators while I worked a Young Life camp this past summer. She works on Young Life staff in England and lives with a woman named Brooke and her family who also serves on Young Life staff and worked at the same camp with me over the summer! Kerry picked me up from the airport and drove me to her home in Thorpe, England which is about a 45min drive from the city. We chatted the whole way to her home and caught up on each other’s lives. When we got to her house I was blown away by how adorable it was! It felt so wonderful to actually stay in a real home after staying in an impersonal dorm room for the past month or so. Also having my own room with an extremely soft bed was a little slice of heaven.
The next morning Kerry and I took the train into the city to start our day off. We first went to the London Tower, which I had never been to before. Kerry was pointing out different sites along the whole way there and giving me the history of each place. When we got to the tower we saw hundred of thousands ceramic poppies littering the ground surrounding the structure. Remembrance day (similar to Memorial day in USA) was approaching soon and the poppy is a symbol used to represent those who died in battle. There were over 800,000 poppies each one representing an English solider who died in WWI. Before we entered the tower we grabbed some fish and chips, the iconic English dish, to eat right outside the tower. We then entered the London Tower and started a tour being lead by a Beefeater, a tower guard, who was a humorous loud plump man. He imparted the stories of the dark history of the tower on us. After the tower concluded we went and saw the Crown Jewels, which were also located inside the tower. After we finished seeing everything in the tower we went to the Borough market and walked around. The Borough market was like a giant farmer’s market selling all sorts of sweets, meats, fish, cheese, vegetables, and much more. I ended up buying a slice of chocolate trifle, which is basically chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookie, and a brownie combined! Afterwards we headed back home for the night and I just relaxed for most of the evening.
The next day I went into the city by myself since Kerry had some errands to run. When I first got to the city I went straight to the London Eye to get in line to go up. After about an hour of waiting I was able to take my turn on the giant ferris wheel and get the best view of the city. The wait was total worth the view you got from the top. I was able to see Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and Westminster Abbey. After getting off the London Eye I headed towards King’s Cross. On my way there I stopped to get lunch at a small café that I got banana and caramel pancakes that were amazing! I then went to King’s Cross to get my picture in front of platform 9 ¾ based on the Harry Potter books and films. There was also a Harry Potter shop next door that I looked around in for a while. Then I traveled to Hyde’s Park. I was blown away by the beauty of this park and couldn’t stop snapping pictures. I loved strolling through the park and around the lake soaking in sunset and views. I then went to Notting Hill to meet up with my two friends, Avery and Mary Francis, who study abroad in London. We walked around the neighborhood and the Portobello Market stopping in different shops and stands. We ended the night by getting dinner in a French Restaurant before I headed back to Thorpe.
On Sunday I slept in a bit before heading downstairs to meet Kerry. Kerry made the most amazing pancakes before we headed to Windsor Castle. Windsor Castle is where the Queen often stays and hosts events. We took an audio tour through the castle and got to look at all the amazing rooms and grounds that covered the castle. After the castle tour we got lunch and then found a café that sold some amazing hot chocolate! We then head back to Kerry’s so I could pack my bag before I had to catch my plane ride back to Dublin. After I finished packing I just hung out with Brooke’s sons, Asher and Ruhl, who are 8 and 6 years old. We played Super Mario Brothers and watched Despicable Me. Kerry drove me to the airport then. While at the airport I ran into the Atlanta Falcons football team, which were playing the Detroit Lions that day in London. I even tried to snap a few sneaky pictures.
This past weekend in London was just wonderful. It was so great to stay in a real house and be able to relax. I definitely grew a deeper appreciation of this city and would love to come back again some day.