Wanderlust in London

With finals all wrapped up and a nice break on my hands, I found the perfect opportunity to visit the city of London. One of my friends from UW-Madison, Rose, who lived across the hall from me sophomore year is studying abroad there this semester through UW’s program and I was so excited to visit her and catch up.

There was bit of trouble finding transportation and getting into town from the airport, but I finally made it and met Rose at the Earl’s Court station. I was completely exhausted from the morning travels so I decided to take a nap during the afternoon and replenish my energy. That evening we went out with Rose’s friends to a pub and I had the traditional English meal, fish and chips.

It was a bit strange being in a country where English was the primary language. By now, I’m so used to hearing Spanish in a restaurant or on the street. Later, a group of us spent the night at a club called Roxy before turning in for the night.

On Friday, I went on a walking tour of the city with Rose as my tour guide. We visited popular locations like Leicester Square, the Seven Dials area in Covent Garden, Big Ben, and walked near the Thames River.

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A few of us went out that night to a place that is a tea-bar during the day, and transforms into a club during the evening. However, once we got there we realized it was catered more towards an older crowd. We stayed for a bit enjoying each other’s company before heading back. Sadly I realized on our way home, that somewhere along our way back, my iPod touch wasn’t with me. Alas, my first pick-pocket incident. As much of a bummer as it it, I realize that it could have been worse. I’m glad it wasn’t a credit card, or worse, my passport.

Saturday, Rose and I spent the day at the Warner Brother’s Harry Potter Studio.  Here, all the magic from the Harry Potter movies comes to life. This self-guided tour allows you to see actual sets used in the movies along with authentic props and costumes. As a big fan of the world of Harry Potter, this was an awesome experience. I even got to try butterbeer!

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My favorite part of the studio tour was walking through the set of Diagon Alley and entering a room with an enormous scale model of Hogwarts. Truly… magical!!

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On Sunday, Rose and I walked around the city more and saw more sights including Buckingham Palace.

We also played with squirrels in the park and saw the London Bridge and the Tower Bridge (the Tower Bridge too often gets confused for the London Bridge).

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After a quick coffee pick-me-up, I met up with my friend Matt while Rose went to work on a school paper. He showed me around London a bit more including the Picadilly Circus and Russell Square area. We had delicious burgers at Byron Burger before going to a Super Bowl party hosted by University College London. It was really fun despite the fact that the Packers weren’t playing. The game was fantastic and I love watching football with groups of enthusiastic and passionate people.

Monday I went to the British Museum for the afternoon. It is huge! I also like the fact that it’s free to the public. With three extensive floors of galleries, it features exhibits of artifacts from all over the world. I think my favorite exhibit centered around Asian artifacts and cultures. Everything is so intricate and beautifully crafted. I felt a sense of inner peace walking through this gallery.

In the evening, I met back up with Rose and we went on the London Eye. I’m glad we decided to do The Eye during the evening because the city is so breathtaking lit up at night. There are variations in the color of lights and the view is a gift that keeps on giving. I could spend hours looking at the city, but sadly it’s only a 30 minute rotation.

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For dinner, Rose and I went out for Indian food since London is famous for it’s authentic Indian food. I love Indian food, and I was not disappointed!

Tuesday, I embraced the café lifestyle and did some work and writing in a café while Rose was at school. However, Tuesday evening was a moment I had been anxiously awaiting the entire trip- seeing a performance of Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theatre. I’ve always been a huge Les Mis fan- memorizing the entire repertoire, but sadly I had never seen a live performance. With second row seats and plenty of tissues, I laughed, I cried, I cried some more- well actually there were few moments when tears weren’t streaming down my face: It was a spectacular performance.

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After the show, Rose and I met up with Matt and his friend Amy and enjoyed my last night in the city. I’m so happy I got the chance to stay in London as long as I did. I even got to see everything that was on my London bucket list and it did not disappoint! I love London town and maybe I’ll make it back there sometime this semester, but if not, I know i’ll be back sometime in my future.