As my amazing semester abroad comes to a close, I thought it would be fun to write about all of my favorite things about my time spent across the pond. It’s kind of hard to choose my favorites, since every part of my abroad experience has been nothing short of awesome. But I guess I’ll try… Oh, and it may be a bit repetitive if you’ve read my past posts. Sorry!
Favorite sight in London: Big Ben and Kensington Palace. I’ll start with Big Ben. And you’re probably thinking I’m the most touristy person ever for saying that Big Ben is my favorite London sight. But I’ll take your judgement, it’s fine. Every time I walk out of the Westminster Tube Station, my jaw always drops just looking at how beautiful Big Ben is. It’s probably the most symbolic building in London and everyone knows London for it. I don’t know, there’s just something about the beauty and symbolism behind Big Ben that makes me love it so much. And the amount of pictures I’ve taken of/by/with Big Ben is ridiculous. Oh well… Next! Kensington Palace is the former home of Princess Diana and the official residence of William & Kate. When my friends and I first stumbled upon it in our walk in Kensington Gardens our first few days here, there were hundreds of bouquets, pictures, notes, and other memorial objects placed around the gates since it was the 15th Anniversary of Princess Diana’s death. The building is just so beautiful, and the gardens right around the palace are amazing when it’s the right season. And it definitely doesn’t hurt that the palace is only a 15 minute walk away from my dorm!
Nothing beats a Big Ben picture on a perfect day.
The gates and Kensington Palace! You can see all of the things people left in honor of Princess Diana.
Part of the Garden. You can get tea towards the back of the Garden too!
Favorite City I Traveled To: Paris and Prague. The two P’s. They really stood out more than any other city. Paris was a city I knew I would love. I’ve been dreaming about going to Paris since I can remember, and love everything about France. I went to Nice (South of France) in 2008 for a month doing a French language program, and that made me fall in love with France even more. Paris has so much history and culture, and it is just one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen. Every building is so quaint and perfect – nothing too modern, nothing too tacky, just perfect. Every sight was just as I imagined times a million in perfection. Same with the food! Prague on the other hand shocked me. I never had much of a desire to go until my best friend from home decided to study abroad there, and if she didn’t, I probably wouldn’t have gone to see Prague then or ever. And I’m SO glad I did get to go. Like I wrote in my previous post about Prague, it’s a mix of Paris and Bruges with its modernness and medieval feel. The buildings, like Paris, are very quaint and beautiful and some sights are actually breathtaking. The castle standing on one of the main hills was probably my favorite sight. It’s just so majestic and made Prague stand out from every other city I’ve been to. My friend and I both said that Prague is such an underrated city, and it really is. I’ll definitely be going back to both of these cities, and you should absolutely go visit them.
View of Prague Castle from the Charles Bridge. You can’t say that’s not beautiful.
Favorite New Food: Salad with Warm Goat Cheese. This sounds pretty simple, and it is. But in Paris, a popular dish is salad with warm goat cheese on toasted baguette. I tried it on my first night in Paris, and ever since, I’ve been craving that anytime I crave something healthy (which may or may not be that often… but that’s okay). It’s just SO delicious, and I’m really not a fan of goat cheese. It’s just so perfect. And now I need to end this section because I’m getting way too hungry to continue.
Yum!! Source: Steamy Kitchen
Favorite Area of London: Soho. Yes, London does have a section called “Soho” just like NYC. And it’s very similar. One similarity is all of the restaurants both Sohos have. Of course, now you know why it’s my favorite area. When my parents came to visit, we walked around Soho for a little while. It was a quieter area of London and seemed a bit more about the locals. Just a few minute walk from Leicester Square and a little further away from Covent Garden, it can get busy but it didn’t feel too touristy the times I’ve been there. If you’re in London looking for a great place to eat, Soho is probably your best bet.
Sorry, no good pictures of Soho to share. Just go for yourself and see it! 🙂
Favorite Market: Borough Market. Europe is known for having markets of all kinds. There’s food markets, vintage markets, clothes markets, and much more in probably every city. London has a few major markets, including Camden Market, Portobello Market, Spitalfields Market, and my favorite market in the world… Borough Market. An all food market. What could be more perfect? This market literally has any type of food you want – fresh fruits and vegetables, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches, sausages, savory pies, fresh baked bread and baked goods, smoothies, sangria, crazy burgers, kangaroo meat, granola, everything. I kid you not. Make sure to definitely grab some lunch here if you come, but try not to go on a Saturday if possible. Although more vendors will be open on Saturday (the market area is open Tuesday-Saturday technically), it’s also the most touristy and crowded day.
Noms on noms.
Ugh. It looks too good.
Favorite Touristy Activity: Tea Time. Tea time is a typical English tradition, and so when in Rome, do as the Romans! Well… when in London, do as the Londoners. Whatever. You get the picture. My friend Nicole came to visit at the end of September, and she’s already been to London a few times and has seen all the touristy sights. So when I asked her what some things she wanted to do were, one of them was go to tea time. It was so much fun and there was so much included with the tea! First we got a lovely glass of champagne, then our tea came, and we each got our own tea pot, giving us about 7-8 cups. On top of that, we got a ton of finger sandwiches, a few scones, and a bunch of little desserts. It was so good! Tea time can get expensive, and some places can charge up to 60 pounds a person. Try to find cheaper places, like we did. We found tea time at the Hyatt Regency Churchill and it wasn’t badly priced, which is surprising because it’s in a beautiful hotel. And sometimes they have themed tea options – the hotel had a Sex and the City themed option, where you get extra food like mini burgers, and fun cocktails!
As you can tell, I was totally digging tea time.
Well this post just made me extra depressed about leaving… Ugh! It’s seriously way too bittersweet. As excited as I am to see family and friends, my home and dog, and enjoy my home life that I’ve been missing for the past 3 1/2 months, London has been way too good to me, and I really don’t want to leave. If only it was possible to bring everything I love about home and school and bring it to London… that would be pretty sweet.
So here’s pretty much how the last 2 1/2 days are working for me:
Tonight, my friends and I are going to a restaurant called Big Easy, a “BBQ & Crab Shack” restaurant. Of course we’re getting a good American fix 2 days before we’re back in the states… Oh well. My parents went to this place when they came in October, and loved it so much they bought my friends and I a gift card to go and enjoy ourselves. Thanks Mom & Dad if you’re reading this! It’s located in the hip Chelsea so it’s not too far from us. After that, I’ll probably be relaxing and not having to stress about a test tomorrow like a lot of people are. Finals will do that to you!
Tomorrow is finals day for everyone. Whether that means you have a paper due, a presentation to give, or a test to take, it’ll be our last time in the classroom building. I have a paper due and a presentation to give, and I finished those yesterday, so I’ve been pretty stress-free the past 24 hours. Afterwards, it’ll probably and unfortunately be time to start packing. One of the most dreaded activities about going anywhere. And it doesn’t help that my room is so small it’ll be so hard to move things around! At night, our program planned an End of Semester party at some bar, so I’ll be going to that and going out after for a last Thirsty Thursday in London.
I’m not entirely sure what Friday has coming for me, but I’m hoping to just walk all over London, getting last-minute souvenirs and enjoying the last of the London sights. And I’ll finish packing obviously. I’m hoping to just stay up all Friday night and frolic around the city until the wee hours of the morning, when I have to check out at 8 AM. No point in even sleeping… I can sleep in America!
It’s officially T-67 hours (I think) until my plane leaves from Heathrow. Gotta make the most of these few hours. Which means no more blogging and time to do something productive… Bye!