Thursday, November 11, 2010

London Fog

Last weekend was spent in London, the capital of the UK.  Just to make this clear, the UK includes Northern Ireland, Scotland, Whales, and England.  The Republic of Ireland (Southern Ireland) is not a part of the UK. Therefore, I had to change currency into sterling and use pounds.  I think they're called pounds because they weigh pounds in your purse.  The coins are so big and heavy!  I'll be sure to bring some examples back.

Anyway, I absolutely loved London.  It was a gorgeous city, especially in the fall with all of the coloured leaves.  It made me lament the fact that I chose to study in Dublin, but I'm sure that I would have felt the same way had I decided to study in London.  I really enjoy being in both cities.

The food was really class, and we actually ended up eating at the same pub twice by accident.  They had different names and locations, but they both had the same menu.  However, we didn't mind because we really enjoyed the first meal we had at one of the pubs and just ordered something different from the next one.  I found out that I really like lamb, especially in shepherd's pie.  This was followed by some cranberry ruhbarb crumble.  It was delicious!  I also enjoyed the fish and chips.  I really only ordered it because I was told that if I went to London, I would have to eat the fish and chips.  I really don't like fish all that much.  However, I shared a large order with Megan, and actually enjoyed it quite a bit.  Maybe I don't dislike fish as much as I thought I did.  But then again, when you deep fry anything it always tastes better!  I also enjoyed a full English Breakfast which was welcome because I had eaten at 3:30 am last so I could get to the airport on time to catch my flight.

The tube was quite an experience.  The whole network of tunnels and tracks was so massive!  I'm glad that I had friends with me who weren't directionally challenged to help me out.  It was a very quick and fairly inexpensive way of getting around the city if you bought a day pass.  I was especially impressed by the large escalators that took you underground to get trains.

We took a free tour that took us to most of the main sights around London.  It was actually very good and fairly thorough.  I liked it because we could see all of the major sights in 3 hours without having to wonder around with our nose stuck inside a map.  However, it didn't cover the bridges and the River Thames that runs through London.  During our tour we learned about Guy Fawkes and the failed attempt to blow up the Parliament building in the gunpowder plot.  We were actually there on the weekend of Guy Fawkes day (the fifth of November) so they were celebrating all weekend with bonfires and fireworks.

We went to the riverside on Sunday, though, and it was one of my favorite views of the city.  It was just so pretty, peaceful, and nice.  Plus there were loads of bridges that were all quite different from one another.  It was just so nice, especially since we had just finished our venture into the bustling Camden Market.  While we were there, we decided to go into a free art museum to look around and warm up before seeking someplace to eat.

Much of Camden Market was like a large outdoor flea market/shopping centre.  There were so many things to look at and I could have spent the whole day there.  It was entertainment in itself just bargaining with the vendors.  I scored a dress and coat there.  We also found fairly authentic, spicy Mexican food, which we had all been craving since we stepped foot into Europe.  Before coming to Ireland, I wondered which food we have in the U.S. that I would miss the most.  I never would have dreamed that it would be Mexican food!    

We also printed off a Harry Potter self-guided walking tour before leaving for London, which we followed for a bit.  That's how I got a picture of myself at Gringott's Bank (which is formally known as the Australia House).  We also found platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station on Sunday night!

We went into St. Paul's Cathedral, but they asked that we not take pictures, so I only have pictures of the outside.  We actually were there during a service, but we were invited to come in and sit.  We stayed for a little while and listened to a wonderful choir while we looked around.  It was very beautiful inside and reminded me of the basilicas of Rome.  I was told that all of the royalty gets married there.   

A full English breakfast!  mmmm...

I just thought this was so pretty, especially with the leaves changing color.
A royal park.  I can't remember it's official name
Standing guard outside of Prince William and Harry's (+the rest of the royal family) place.
Buckingham Palace (Queen Elizabeth II's place)
London Calling?

Trafalgar Square
Ninja Bunnies!
I thought this was neat, and huge!
Westminster Abbey
The Parliament Building (Thank goodness it wasn't blown up by Guy Fawkes)
Big Ben
Shepherd's Pie, with veggies!
The Tube (officially called The Underground)

The Royal Courts of Justice

The Australia House/Gringott's Bank in Harry Potter

I spent too much money in Europe, so I had to withdraw some more money at Gringotts!  lol
huge escalator down to the tube
St. Paul's Cathedral where all the royalty get married
A rosier picture of St. Paul's

This was at Camden Market.  This was the seating to eat food you may have picked up at one of the many food stands.
This store had unicycles inside!

I liked the name of this pub,  "The Walrus & The Carpenter"
Nancy (left), me (middle), and Megan (right) posing in front of tower bridge

I don't remember ever seeing a skyscraper actually being built before this.
Interesting shape for a skyscraper, I think.  The river was lined with neat shaped buildings like this.

London Bridge.  Still Standing, haha

Southwark Bridge
A view from across the river
Millenium Bridge (I really liked this one!)
Millenium Bridge again.  It's only for foot traffic.
A replica of Shakespear's Globe Theatre
The gates in front of the Globe had all kinds of animals on it, like this cricket.

A church that I thought was really nice. 
Fish and Chips!
King's Cross Station (conveniently just a 10 minute walk from our hostel)

Off to Hogwarts via platform 9 3/4!

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