Digressing from China a bit… After a wonderfully scenic beginning in Ireland, my Eurotrip was underway. I grudgingly woke up at 4am on July 11th, 2014 (my hostel roommates grunted loudly to communicate their displeasure) and eventually caught my morning flight over the Irish Sea to the historic and posh city of London, England.
My time in London spanned three days—July 11th through 13th—of tireless walking through the city and a couple sleepless nights due to the hosting of some newfound friends: Delaney (friend’s sister) and her college mates Jack, Michael, Raymond, and Corinne who were studying abroad there (Corinne was working in Spain at the time and came to visit). I had never met or talked to any of these people prior to this trip, but a buddy of mine, Ian, told me to get in contact with his sister as my trip coincided with her time in London. Walking around London at night with this lively group of friendly people made for a few memorable nights and it was a pleasure getting to know them.
How does one describe London after three busy days dragging yourself around the city? Charming, expensive, and tempting.
It is truly a beautiful city to visit and film.
On the one day that there was nice weather during my visit, I strolled lazily along the River Thames with the sun warming my skin, biting into a flavorful, juicy chicken and red cabbage sandwich from the Borough Street Market; I was certainly happy to be alive and this six hour stroll was quite therapeutic.
Unfortunately, I soon found out how pricey London is for tourists with a limited budget and I did not take into account the exchange rate for both the U.S. dollar and euro to British pound. Visiting many different buildings and attractions around the city was rewarding in itself, but I was fiscally unable to ride the London Eye (the two and half-hour waiting period may have had something to do with it too), peer over the city from the top of the London Bridge, or purchase from the more spendy booths at the Borough Street Market. The amount of restaurants that had mouth-watering aromas wafting out their doors was completely unfair to a tired traveler’s stomach.
I will undoubtedly visit London many more times in my life, but I will have my wallet weighed down with a few more pounds to ensure a fuller experience. It is possible to enjoy London’s offerings with little spending money, but I found it a bit difficult.
Locations visited: Big Ben, the Horse Guard Palace, London Bridge, London Tower, Borough Street Market, St. James Park, WWII Men and Women’s Memorials, the Thames River, the London Eye, Westminster Abbey, and King’s Cross Station (how I forgot to get a picture in front of platform 9 3/4s may be my biggest regret in my life so far…).
Highlights: The London nightlife is a fantastic time that will take you to the wee hours of the morning. You may even have to confront a guy or two who followed your best friend’s sister around the venues. Slowly walking along the River Thames without a care in the world is therapeutic and along it you will find street performers, artists, and shops of all kinds.
Favorite memory: Finally enjoying a true English pub during the Germany vs. Argentina World Cup game was a boisterous event to behold. Most everyone was cheering for Germany to pull through and although it was not the most exciting game in the world, it made for a good time.
Favorite food: I only experienced a small taste of London’s food. Most of the time I was just watching it being prepared or looking on enviously as other’s ate. The one time I did indulge in a spendy meal was during the World Cup championship game and I was able to enjoy an incredible burger comprised of beef, sunny-side up eggs, jalapeños, swiss cheese, hash browns, barbecue sauce, bacon, and potato wedges; a great meal to enjoy during a World Cup championship game.
What I want to do and where I want to visit when I return:
- actually ride in the London Eye,
- go to the top of the London Bridge
- access to the London Tower
- witness the Buckingham Palace guard drills and post changes
- tea at the Houses of Parliament
- buy expensive English meals
- enter the National Gallery
- travel to Stone Henge
- visit the West End area at Christmas time
- wander inside Buckingham Palace
- go up in The Shard to view the entire city from the (tallest building in Western Europe)
- visit the West End area at Christmas time and much much more.
Total money spent: €90. ~€200 (including hostel lodging)