WOW. What an adventure-filled weekend it was. I have realized over the past few days that I really don’t want to waste any more weekends just sitting around campus and hanging out in my flat… that’s NOT why I’m here at Roehampton, only EIGHT miles away from Central London and all it has to offer (yes, I did the research from Google Maps). Before this awesome weekend, it was a pretty normal week with class, basketball and naps. However, Raleigh and I took a night trip into Kingston on Wednesday night (10/17) to get dinner and a movie! I had also planned to stop in SportsDirect (a cheap sports store here, like Modells) to look for some basketball “trainers” (AKA sneakers) and some more workout clothes. Who knew pretty much every store around here closes at 6:30 during the week!? It’s so annoying. Besides the disappointment of the store being closed, the night was really great. We ate at this really popular restaurant called Nando’s, known for its delicious grilled “piri-piri” chicken, where you get to choose your level of hotness, and sides like corn, chips (AKA French fries), beans, coleslaw, etc. It’s really good, but maybe a tad bit overpriced for what you get… which is actually what I have to say about every single place since London is so freaking expensive! Anyway, after dinner we went to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower with Logan Lerman (my new love) and Emma Watson. I read the book over the summer, and thought it was a fantastic book-to-movie adaptation. It was also interesting to hear Emma Watson speak with an American accent while we were in England (she did a good job though)! So that was my fun day during the week…
Now onto my fun-filled weekend!
Friday morning, I woke up “early” (like 10:30 haha) and took a day trip into the city to be touristy and explore some places I haven’t been yet. I went with Raleigh, Sinead, and Eliza… and was really happy to have Sinead lead us around a little since she’s English and knows how to get to most places. You will see from the pictures that the day ended up being really crappy (cold and rainy, shocker), but honestly it was one of my favorite days here so far. Our first stop was in Chinatown, which wasn’t as big as I had expected but still a really cool area with a big Asian feel to it. It was basically a few small streets with one Chinese restaurant next to another, all with ducks and other meat hanging in the window. We ended up eating lunch at a Chinese buffet after doing our research to find the best one for the least amount of money… so college.
After Chinatown, we walked just a few streets over into Soho. I didn’t know much about the Soho area, but quickly learned it is one of London’s main gay areas, and also a big place for nightlife and some sex shops. So during the rainy day it wasn’t as busy as I had hoped, but walking around there was still cool to explore. Soho also is becoming a more upscale area, a fashionable district with nice restaurants/cafes and media offices. We took a quick look around, and decided to head to some more touristy places.
Next was Trafalgar Square. It was only about a five minute walk from the Soho area, and after a few turns and walking a few blocks, we stumbled right into the center of it! Trafalgar Square is probably the prettiest area I’ve seen in Central London so far. As one of London’s most popular open tourist areas, there is a lot to take pictures of. After doing some research (thanks, Wikipedia) this is what I learned about the area: The tall column in the center is called Nelson’s Column, built to commemorate Admiral Horatio Nelson, who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. There are four HUGE lion statues at its base, there to “guard” it. There are also a few really pretty fountains there that really add to the scene. Apparently, Trafalgar Square is a popular place for public gatherings, such as political demonstrations, sports events/parades, and a great New Year’s Eve celebration (which I will just miss). The other really pretty building in the square is the National Portrait Gallery, which is cool to look at but we didn’t go in. I’m really excited to go back near Christmas time to see the big tree that they place in the center! If you want to learn more about it, here’s where I found some interesting information… read the part about the pigeons if you have time! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trafalgar_Square
After Trafalgar Square, we kept walking towards Charing Cross, down Whitehall Road, and got to see a bunch of historic and important buildings. We stopped to admire some buildings such as Horse Guards Parade (Army Headquarters) paired with The Household Cavalry Museum, and most importantly “Number 10,” on Downing Street, which was heavily guarded. Number 10 is also known as the headquarters of “Her Majesty’s Government”, and the official residence of the Prime Minister, David Cameron! It is one of the most famous addresses in the world and could only be seen through a gate. Nevertheless, it was still cool to be outside and look at the place.
Continuing straight, we walked right into Big Ben and Parliament Square, which I saw already before but obviously is still one of the most beautiful places to visit in Central London. Right next to that was Westminster Abbey, which I haven’t seen, so we took pictures outside of the main part of the church. It cost around 15 pounds (like 25 dollars) to go inside and see it, so we decided that the outside was cool enough to see for the day.
After walking around in the cold and rain, we were officially over being outside. What better than to have an afternoon tea break (and snacks) in Central London. So we hopped on the tube, found an adorable café in Covent Garden, and demolished our afternoon snack. Hands down, this café was my favorite part of the day. I ordered a pot of English Breakfast Tea (which I’m OBSESSED with now), and a chocolate croissant. Amazing. The girls also had some delicious pastries too (fruit tart and biscuits with cream and jam). Eliza’s hot chocolate was to die for.
And that ended our day of adventure in Central London!