I’m in London! Initial impressions and anecdotes

London. is. awesome.

After my friend Sarah picked me up from the airport this morning, we took the Tube to Wimbledon, where I am staying with her and her aunt. I must say, the Tube is incredibly cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing than the trains I’m used to in Washington, D.C., and New York City. And it was so pleasant listening to people banter on the Tube with their lovely British accents!

After unpacking my things at Sarah’s aunt’s cute and quaint flat and grabbing a triple shot of espresso, we headed out on our London adventure. Of course, Sarah has been to London loads more times than I have been, so she was essentially guiding me through the sightseeing.

Our first stop was at King’s Cross, where we had every intention to snap a picture with Platform 9 3/4. But the line was extremely long, wrapping around the platform in several layers. Knowing that the wait to take a picture would be at least an hour, and we had lots more sightseeing to do, we decided to skip the platform and take the Tube to our next stop, the London Tower.

The Tower of London is everything I had hoped it would be.
The Tower of London is everything I had hoped it would be.

Visiting the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge was breathtaking. Sitting right on the water, the bridge bellows over the Thames River, perfectly picturesque. We stayed for a while and got some great shots, and then headed for lunch at a nearby Wagamama’s, a Thai-ish noodle restaurant that happens to be one of Sarah’s favorite places to grab a bite.

After eating and dropping into the souvenir shop next door to the restaurant,  we walked to the nearest bus stop to hop on a Big Bus, an open-top sight-seeing tour bus, which costs about 32 GBP. But when the bus pulled up, the driver told us he was already on his last loop, so we could hop on for FREE if we didn’t mind that we’d miss a small par of the tour. UHMMMM, did we mind saving $64 GBP? Of course we didn’t! So we hopped on the bus and had an absolute ball soaking in our free tour of the city.

We were SO HAPPY that we got to ride the tour bus for no cost whatsoever!
We were SO HAPPY that we got to ride the tour bus for no cost whatsoever!

Driving along the Thames, we passed the London Eye and Big Ben, and continued along to see Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the Palace, and other incredible sights. I took so many photos that my camera died!

Can you spot the Eye?
Can you spot the Eye?

 

Big Ben says hi.
Big Ben says hi.

After getting off the bus,  we walked around Piccadilly Circus for a while, catching an awesome breakdancing street performance and doing some people watching. We headed through a few souvenir shops and then made our way to the M&M store, where we bought more chocolate than I’d care to admit.

Piccadily seemed a lot like the British version of NYC's Times Square!
Piccadilly seemed a lot like the British version of NYC’s Times Square!

As dusk turned to night, we grabbed some ciders at the Imperial Pub, and then decided to embark on our own pub crawl. We got a taste of local flavors at four different bars, toasting each time to being young and being thankful that we could take off from work to travel. Sarah and I decided to retire early,  leaving the last pub and heading for the Tube.

On our journey back to Wimbledon, we decided to hop off at Waterloo to see the London Eye at night. It was beautiful!! We took even more photos, then continued our journey back home.

Is it possible the the London Eye is even more beautiful at night?
Is it possible that the London Eye is even more beautiful at night?

Now settled comfortably on an air mattress on Sarah’s aunt’s floor, I’m typing this away on my iPad, trying to get myself to fall asleep. I’m still on U.S. time, so 2:00 a.m. in London means 9:00 p.m. at home, so I’m still not ready to pass out. But we have an even more amazing day to come tomorrow, and I’ll need to be sure I’m prepared to wake up bright and early. I can’t wait to see how the rest of this adventure unfolds. For now, I’m off to bed!

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