But wait. Let me backtrack and repeat that first statement: I got to visit London. I don’t know, that just feels really crazy and exciting?? I’ve never been a Great Britain fangirl, but London is one of the most famous cities in the world and it’s got so much amazing history.
We were only there for three full days, and we packed in a lot. Shoutout to my little sisters for keeping up with us and never complaining as we dragged them all over the city. Another one to the London Underground which was a whole lot of fun (except for that one time) and cemented my love for big cities and public transportation.
Although I was dealing with a nasty bout of food poisoning at the beginning of the trip, I healed in time to enjoy afternoon tea at a fancy restaurant. Honestly, guys, the scones were my favorite part of the entire trip. People always gripe about the food in the UK, but both times I’ve been there, I actually really enjoyed the food. For one thing, there are warm scones with lemon curd and clotted cream melting inside (okay, I know lemon curd and clotted cream don’t have the most appetizing names, but they really are SO. GOOD.). Then there are meat pies, shortbread, homemade stovies, and all things toffee. And I personally like fish and chips, as long as it’s not too greasy. All that to say: give the food in the UK a chance, folks. And if you can, do an afternoon tea somewhere. I recommend mint tea; it was delicious (and quite kind to my recently healed stomach). Also, life hack: Starbucks, bless them, sells amazing gingerbread biscuits which are a lifesaver if you ever get a stomach bug while traveling.
Besides the scones, another highlight was Westminster Abbey. It feels annoyingly cliché to say that, but I truly loved it. We went to Evensong there one night, and we got to sit in the elevated pews right next to the choir. The next day, we took the tour. It was a zoo, and the bathrooms are right next to the exit, so I had to walk through the maze twice. However, it’s quite pretty and it gave me a chance to read as many grave markers is possible. (Maybe that’s why I liked it so much––all the morbidity. Mwahaha.) My heart literally skipped a beat when I saw the William Wilberforce statue, and I read his entire epigraph even though I got some glares from more pragmatic and less sentimental tourists. WILLIAM WILBERFORCE, guys. If you were to ask me who one of my heroes is, I would immediately say him. I freaked out (internally, don’t worry) again when I got to Poet’s Corner and saw names like Dickens, Austin, Handel, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Robert Louis Stevenson, T. S. Eliot, Kipling, and more. I felt proper American pride that there was even a bust of Longfellow, put there apparently by “the English admirers of an American poet.” Plus, I got to see the tombs of Isaac Newton and Lord Kelvin and Ernest Rutherford and all these amazing scientists!? Also David Livingstone, who has a cool last name. Westminster Abbey made my simultaneously nerdy and artsy heart happy.
Other highlights: the statue of John Donne in St. Paul’s Cathedral; spending one evening eating in a bookstore café and then browsing the store (we ended up adding at least 50 pounds to our suitcases); van Gogh paintings in the National Gallery; wandering around little side streets, the best part of every big city, honestly; shopping with my mom in Greenwich Market; and straddling the line of the prime meridian. The one big downside: they were renovating Big Ben, so the whole thing was covered in scaffolding. Oh well. It gives me an excuse to go back someday.
But enough chitchat. Here are the photos. *insert plug for iPhones and their awesome cameras* Click on them to see them bigger and read the captions. =D