So time is ticking. I have 13 more days here in London. WHAT. As I write this, I have a billion things that I need to get done: schoolwork, cleaning, visiting London attractions, saying bye (gosh I don’t want to think about it all)! I haven’t mentioned it in my blog yet, but my mom is coming to visit me here and fly back home to America with me. I am so so soooo glad to have her here at the end of the semester so I won’t be as stressed packing up everything and shoving it into my suitcases (luckily, she will bring a large suitcase that I can fit even more stuff into, woohoo)! My mom gets here early on Dec. 13 (A WEEK FROM TODAY, AH) and we leave for Venice Dec. 14-16, then back to the USA on Dec. 19. This is insane.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
So anyway, in my attempts to do everything I want to do in/around London, I have been taking little day trips to places recently. A little less than two weeks ago (11/23), Raleigh, Sinead and I went to Hyde Park for the opening night of Winter Wonderland. I expected it to be like Rockefeller Center’s Christmas decorations, because we heard there is a big ice rink and winter decorations, but it was a lot bigger than I had expected! It was more like a winter/Christmas theme park/carnival! There were tons of rides that you could buy tickets for, mainly carnival rides like fun houses, rollercoasters, bumper cars, dropping rides, spinning rides, swinging rides… everything! Before reaching all the rides, there was a long path of vendors/booths that sold Christmas themed things, like ornaments, decorations, lights, candles, and much more. They also advertised “mulled wine” which is very popular around the holidays. We took a look at a lot of the fun Christmas items and then ventured into the ride area. Mixed in with the rides were TONS of food vendors everywhere, selling ALL types of carnival foods you can imagine. The one thing I noticed that England doesn’t have (I had Sinead confirm): funnel cake! I thought that they must have that token carnival snack, but apparently people in England don’t know what funnel cake is. So sad. Anyway, we ate our way through Winter Wonderland, first getting Galaxy hot chocolate. I then proceeded to get a crepe with banana and nutella. We then ran into a large part of the park that was German themed (I don’t really know why, but there were tons of booths selling sausages and beer). The bratwurst looked too tempting to pass up, so I ended up getting one of those too. Yeah, it was a bad eating night… but so yummy! Sinead, Raleigh, and I wanted to buy tickets for the biggest fun house we could find, but right when we got there they were closing the rides. Oh well! We spent another 20 minutes watching people pay money to try and win some carnival games… particularly the impossible basketball one with insanely bouncy balls, hard rims, and a stern backboard. Not too many people won prizes, but it was fun cheering people on.
So that wraps up my night in Winter Wonderland. I may bring my mom back to check it out! Here’s the website for it if you want to check it out a little more: http://www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com/
Raleigh and I ventured off campus the other day (12/4) because we still have places we want to explore and I am officially done with classes as of TODAY (Yay more free time.) I have friends who have been to Camden Town before, which is just a little north of Central London, and they said it’s definitely a place to check out. The Camden Markets is the fourth most popular visitor attraction in London, and is divided into a few different sections (Lock Market, Stables Market, Lock Village). It is also known to have an alternative/punk vibe to it. There were lots of tattoo parlors and piercing places… it was definitely the most edgy place I’ve seen here! The main street has plenty of shops that sell ALL types of souvenirs possible with a London theme… mugs, magnets, key chains, postcards, shot glasses, posters, etc. I ended up buying a bunch of things to bring back for friends, and a few things for myself too! There was a section that had so many different food vendors of all kinds: kebab, Chinese, Mediterranean, American, and more. Raleigh and I stopped for lunch at a place called Woody’s Grill and had kebab, which is basically meat carved off a rotating cylinder of chicken or lamb and put in a pita wrap with lettuce, sauces, and some other toppings if you so desire. It was really good, and something Raleigh had been craving for a while so I’m glad we went. Other parts of Camden Markets sold lots of clothing, particularly tank tops with cute designs on them, and some other typical touristy t-shirts too. There was so much to look at in each section of the market… I could have been looking at things there all day!
We had our fill of the markets once we decided we spent almost all our money for the day, and then took the tube into Covent Garden (closer to central London) to get afternoon hot chocolate and a snack. After walking around in the cold, the warm café was just what we needed. I hadn’t been to Covent Garden in a little while, and once we got there it was so pretty to see all the Christmas lights they put up. London does a fantastic job of decorating for the holidays. They are super obsessed with lights, pretty trees, and other winter décor for the streets! I love it!
Digby Stuart Christmas Dinner
We got back to campus that evening, and I had an hour of downtime until getting ready for the Digby Stuart Christmas Dinner. All students a part of the Digby campus were invited to a nice dinner hosted by the university, and for ten pounds we got a three course meal and some wine. It got crowded really fast, so I sat with Raleigh and my flatmate Sami who happened to be there too, but got split up from Liza and Sinead. The food was a lot like what they gave us for the free thanksgiving dinner for American students. We had parsnip soup and break as an appetizer, and the main course was turkey, stuffing, gravy, brussel sprouts, potatoes, parsnips, and “pigs in a blanket,” which were actually sausages wrapped in bacon (delicious). For dessert they gave us a weird “pudding” which wasn’t really pudding but a cake with a strange consistency and covered in white sauce. I didn’t like it… and it takes a lot for me to not eat the dessert! They played some Christmas music throughout the dinner and had a singing group come in and sing a few carols as well. Overall the night was okay, but I can’t complain about the unlimited wine! I also really liked that we got to dress up for the event too!
More to come soon about some last minute adventures before I leave to go home!