2012 Fall Caitie Taylor External Programs Ireland

Little ol London Town

Whew! I just arrived back from a whirlwind five day trip to London! It was amazing, I got literally no sleep but it was totally worth it. Flying EasyJet from Belfast to Gatwick was only a forty-five minute flight on Friday and I arrived to a rainy London, but it didn’t dampen my excitement. I took the Gatwick Express from Gatwick airport to London Victoria, then hopped on the tube from Victoria to Oxford Circus. Coming up from the tube (which is soooo much cleaner than Philly’s subways) to the impressive high end shopping area of Oxford Street, Reagent Street I felt a surge of emotion. The mass crowds of people walking up and down the streets, the Christmas decorations strung from every lamp post and every window, and the pride I felt for successfully making it to London without getting lost was almost overwhelming. I know I had a big smile plastered on my face as I pulled my wheely suitcase behind me and grabbed a bite to eat for lunch at Starbucks. First realization, London is EXPENSIVE! Comparing similar purchases to Belfast, the prices were sky high! I met my friend after she finished her classes and we got the tube to meet up with her friends for dinner at an Italian restaurant in South Kensington. Then we went back to her flat to get ready to go out for the night and went out to a bar in Piccadilly Circus. It was so much fun to get dressed up and walk through London at nighttime, especially getting to see the lights in Piccadilly which is basically London’s equivalent to Times Square.

On Saturday my friend and I went to do some touristy stuff, so we went to Covent Garden where there was a Christmas market.  We wandered around and ate delicious treats like waffles and crepes. Then we went to Kings Cross Station so I could be a Harry Potter nerd and get my picture taken at Platform 9 ¾.  There was a queue of people waiting to get their picture taken with the trolley, which since it was Christmastime in London I wasn’t surprised, so I waited patiently until it was my turn and got the picture I’ve always wanted as a keepsake.

On Sunday we went for “High Tea” at Kensington Palace. It was such an experience, a group of eight girls went and we all felt like princesses! The afternoon tea menu was twenty pounds per person but totally worth it. Your choice of black tea, herbal or fruity tea and a selection of sandwiches, scones and pastries was presented in front of each person, complete with an entire pot of tea per person. It was all delicious and surprisingly filling for the small, dainty size of it all! After tea, we walked through Hyde Park to get to Winter Wonderland where all of London seemed to be! It was so crowded they had workers standing in the middle of the pathways reminding people to please walk on the left so it would make the flow of people move easier. The Christmas market at Winter Wonderland was unreal, the Bavarian Village was so cute with tiny huts and lots of German food options.

On Monday I took a bus tour all around London, to see all the stereotypical sights like Buckingham Palace, Downing Street, Tower Bridge, The Tower, The Thames River, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral and more. I took over three hours on the bus tour because I kept getting on and off to check out each place. I had my lunch outside Buckingham Palace and sat and people watched as tons of tourists posed outside the golden gates. I went to Harrods, the famous, luxurious department store and was very impressed with their window displays which were Disney Princess themed and very exquisite! I met up with my friend at 4pm and we went to a Christmas Market below the London Eye for dinner and met up with two of her friends. Then we went on the London Eye at 6:30pm so we could see London lit up at nighttime. It was by far the best decision because it was a fantastic sight! I am afraid of heights and was a bit nervous about looking down over London from such a height, but I turned out to be perfectly fine. In fact, I didn’t even think about the height because I was so distracted by the beauty of looking out on London! I think it was the highlight of my trip!

Tuesday I went exploring Oxford Street, Reagent Street, Carneby Street and checked out the major stores like Hamley’s toy shop, Selfridges, TopShop and more. At 3pm I went to see the musical “Jersey Boys” because I had bought a discount ticket at one of the theater stalls and really wanted to see a show in London’s West End theater district. The show was amazing!! I am still singing Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons songs that are stuck in my head right now.  After the show we had quick dinner and went out to an American sports bar (how ironic for being in London)…

On Wednesday I was very sad to leave London  but happy to return home to Belfast and catch up on all the missed sleep! My trip to London was awesome, and I think I’m in love with London now! I can’t wait to take my younger sister to show her around in the future!

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