I was really really looking forward to London. It’s part of the study abroad experience to travel, right? Well this was my one trip I allowed myself after figuring out just how tight my budget had to be, and it lived up to my expectations. I really can’t wait to go back. If I had to compare London to the other major cities I’ve visited (NYC, LA, Paris, Bordeaux, etc) I would say it’s closest to San Francisco - but with more history of course. It has this laid back vibe, while keeping the big city feel. It’s also a really cool blend of historical and contemporary buildings. The major problem with London? It’s way too fucking expensive. Ok, let me clarify, it’s really not that expensive: pints are cheap, food seems to be fairly priced, it’s just that damn awful conversion rate that kills ya! Dammit England, why does your currency have to be so strong? There is actually one thing that is super expensive in London though and that’s public transit. 4£ for a one-way tube ticket!? What in the world are they smoking over there? So we walked… a lot. Which I had no problem with, I think it’s the best way to soak in a city, but the friends I was with were a bit more apprehensive.
We hopped on our EasyJet flight (after scouring the airport for Billi) and arrived on Friday afternoon. I would’ve liked to arrive in the morning, but there was only one flight in and out of London on Friday and Sunday and we just couldn’t beat the price so we went for it. When we got to Gatwick airport we grabbed our pre-booked EasyBus into the city. I would recommend both ‘Easy’ companies in the future because they were cheap and we didn’t have any problems ourselves. The only thing that kind of worried me was that our bus into the city was really small and there were 2 girls that had tickets for our time who couldn’t get on because it was full. They were told another bus would be along shortly that they could get on but they were rightly worried that it too would be full and they wouldn’t have priority because their tickets were from a different time. O.O I hope they made it on the next one.
It was pitch black in London already at about 6pm. I had no idea it got so dark so early there. After we got dropped off at Earl’s Court we stopped in at a little counter service diner place for some food. I got fish n chips which were MEH, but it wasn’t really a true fish n chips place so I can’t knock em too hard. That’s definitely on my list of things to do next time I’m back in London. Then I asked how far our walk was gonna be. The two people I asked looked at me like I was crazy and said it was going to take over an hour. WTF? It did not look that far on the map. So we stopped at the tube station just to check into how much that would be and when we saw the price I was like NOPE! Not happening! And we set off on our journey. Guess what? All those people can suck it because it only took like 40 minutes to get to our hostel and that included a stop at the liquor store to pick up a mini bottle of vodka!
The hostel was really cool. It’s in this old Victorian building in a REALLY swanky part of town, right across the street from Hyde Park. I wouldn’t say it’s centrally located, but walking anywhere is enjoyable because you have the park right there and it really is a great neighborhood. Check in went smoothly, and we went up to our 6 person room. There was 5 of us so we only had one roommate. This German guy, who’s name I either forgot or never learned, who came to London to shop. TO SHOP. I mean, I would think he has tons of money, but he was staying in a hostel so I don’t know.
When we got to the hostel Sara didn’t seem too thrilled to go to the club that night, she kind of wanted to stay in and drink, but I wasn’t gonna take no for an answer, and after a few drinks she was more in the clubby mood. Going to G-A-Y was probably the one thing I was most excited about on the trip. Not because I’m this ‘club kid’ or whatever, it’s just that I’ve heard about that club since forever. I think that it may be the first gay club I ever heard the name of. Britney, Kylie, Madonna, everybody’s performed there and it’s like a gay institution. So after some pregaming we hit the streets. I predicted it would be like an hour walk if we moved quickly but we left early so we weren’t rushed and the walk took us through Picadily circus so we would get to see that at night too.
On the way we saw Harrod’s so we had to swing by to look at the lights and the windows at night. It was gorgeous, and with that liquid courage that we had we decided to have an impromptu photo shoot. We posed like the mannequins in the window and it ended up being one of my favorite London moments.
We continued the walk, and soon after that came the first break. These people were not loving the walking. On the way we stopped in at another liquor store to share another flask sized bottle between us, and took another break. I was rarin’ to go, but I guess not everyone was on my level. When we were right next to the club we could see the river so we went down there and it was absolutely gorgeous. You could see Big Ben and the London Eye all lit up; it truly was something special. I couldn’t believe that I had made it there. First France, now this?
Then we hit up the club. I loved it. It was huge, and they were playing pop. Good old fashioned POP! A mix of UK and US POP! Ah! POP POP POP! But twas short lived. We were only there for one hour before everyone was ready to go. In hindsight it was probably for the best - I only ended up spending like 3£ at the club, and I wasn’t tired or hungover for sightseeing the next day but I would’ve really liked to stay, and if even one other person had wanted to stay with me I would’ve kept dancing for another hour or two. I admit I was a bit perturbed. I mean, I was playing cheerleader all night trying to pump everyone up, and tell them “we’re almost there” “it’s right around the corner” to be let down, and I felt like I was making people do something they didn’t want to do - which I detest - but at the same time I was determined to let myself be a bit selfish because I had been looking forward to this trip for a LONG time. This was paired with something else though. On the flight and on the bus ride into the city I was really starting to miss home and miss Alex. It’s weird because Bordeaux has kind of become a second home. It doesn’t feel like a vacation anymore, so when I got to London it felt like I was really on a vacation, and when you’re on a true vacation and experiencing something new like that you really want your significant other with you. I really missed Alex, and dancing is something that always takes my mind off my worries so I was really looking forward to leaving it all on the dance-floor. When it was cut short all my feelings started rushing back. I really am not mad at anyone, I don’t think I was really even mad that night, but with the alcohol in my system I kind of shut down. I just kept my head down and walked and ignored everyone else. I probably seemed like such a jerk, and looked super mad. I feel kinda bad about it but I think it was all valid and I didn’t take anything out on anyone so no harm no foul. Emotional night. BUT the next day when I woke up I was just really happy that I got to go to G-A-Y and I had an awesome time there. I got to go to the city at the top of my list of places to visit while in Europe, and I got to do the thing at the top of my list in the city at the top of my list. SO YAY!
The next day our plan was English breakfast and our bus tour. We set off walking and found that out place we had found on Yelp for English breakfast wasn’t there! Eep! But we kept walking and found another place that looked good. Henry’s was it? OMG. It was delicious. Not gonna lie, I think those were the best eggs I’ve ever eaten in my whole life. That’s also where I started my love affair with HG brown sauce. I can’t wait to get some back home and put it on everything!
The bus tour was a success! We had an awesomely funny tour guide who would ask us questions about the States when he wasn’t on the mic. It was a bit chilly but the weather was infinitely better than we thought and heard it was going to be. On the bus tour we got to see all the major sites. We even went over Tower Bridge. The only thing we couldn’t see was Buckingham Palace because double-deckers are not allowed to drive in front of it, so we used our hop-on hop-off privileges towards the end of the 2 hour tour to take a route that dropped us off near the palace so we could walk to the front.
After that we went to a pub that our tour guide had pointed out called The Albert… I think that’s the name. Goodness I have a horrible memory. I had two beers there which I had been craving all day. The menu looked delicious but it wasn’t really dinner time. On our way back to the hostel we stopped in a couple stores and we knew we wanted to go in Harrod’s. That place is ridiculous! So big, so over the top, I love it. For dinner we grabbed some food at the food halls in Harrod’s and ate on a bench outside. I had some nummy Indian food. A little pricey, but worth it.
The rest of the night was pretty uneventful. Went to bed early because we had to get up at 5 to walk to our bus stop. We got McDonalds breakfast on the way. They have a breakfast wrap there with brown sauce that it just heavenly. It’s heaven in a tortilla. And it was back to Bordeaux. An awesome trip but it was a bit too short, and by ‘bit’ I mean way too short. I can’t wait to go back. I hope Alex and I will be able to make it to Europe sometime in the near future. He has to show me Barcelona and I need to show him Bordeaux, then I’d really like to take some time and really explore London with him. ^^