Monday, March 22, 2010

it's quite lovely, really.

I LOVE LONDON! It was so wonderful to have a weekend away from the snow, cold, and the German language--yay for sun and British accents! From Friday night to Sunday afternoon, Marianna and I explored the wonderful city of London, England! It was a dream come true, as I have always hoped to see London one day.

When Marianna and I arrived in London, we met up with her cousin Julia who is studying at the London School of Economics. We went straight to LSE's on-campus pub, George IV. Although I was a little skeptical to bring my big book bag into a pub, it turned out okay since lots of people go there after class. haha. We stayed there for a little while and then went to dinner at Weatherspoon's--a London chain restaurant/pub. It was so crowded, but we managed to find a table and enjoyed getting to know Julia and her friends--including a British girl with a charming accent and a very London style of fashion. Exhausted, we headed back to Julia's flat--she graciously opened up her cute apartment to us for the weekend.

On Saturday, Marianna and I were on the Tube by 9 in the morning I think. We went straight to the Portobello Market in Notting Hill! It was so wonderful! There were tons of antique booths and food stalls and the CUTEST shops you'll ever see. My two favorite places on Portobello Road were: 1. The Hummingbird Bakery with the most divine cupcakes you will ever have in your whole life. (I got a red velvet cupcake and Marianna got a black bottom cupcake that had cheesecake and chocolate in it!) 2. Cath Kidston--this precious little shop with fabrics, cute clothing, stationary, and everything in between. We also stopped by The Travel Bookshop from the movie Notting Hill. It was such a great bookstore--organized in sections by the various regions/countries around the world. The whole area of Notting Hill is just so magical. I could have stayed there all day, but we had LOTS more to see!

Our next stop was Harrod's! I was so excited since all my life my Aunt Kathy has talked about how much she loves Harrod's. :) It's pretty incredible--like an extravagant British New York City Macy's. I loved it...if only I had more time to spend perusing every department.

Next, we went to the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery museums. They were both awesome museums! I saw Van Gogh's Sunflowers, some Monet pieces, and other artwork that I have seen all my life in textbooks. So surreal. The Portrait Gallery is unbelievable because it has portraits of people from long ago up through today. My favorite pieces were Princess Diana's engagement portrait, Andy Warhol's art of Queen Elizabeth, and a photography exhibit of Twiggy (the first supermodel--she is from Britain and is now 60 years old...You may know her from being a judge on America's Next Top Model). I'm so glad that I got to go to both museums! They were so worth the time!

Then, we went to Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace! It was fun to see all those monuments. Unfortunately, I didn't see the round-about from European Vacation, but you better believe I was quoting from it. "There goes Big Ben...There goes Parliament." After Buckingham Palace, we took a taxi to the London Eye and saw it lit up at night. It was really pretty. They had blue lights up on the trees and the London Eye was lit up with white lights, so it was beautiful.

Finally (we had not eaten since the Portobello Market!), we went to dinner in the part of town called Covent Garden. We ate at this fish and chips place called The Rock and Sole Plaice. It was there that I had my first plate of Fish and Chips! And I really liked it!!

Completely tired from all of our adventures, we went back to Julia's flat to get some sleep for another day of London sight-seeing.

On Sunday morning, we went to the Spitalfields Market--near Liverpool Street. There were lots of clothing and jewelry booths that were neat to look at. I bought some decorative scarves and a cute handmade fabric headband. My cooperating teacher's daughter Christina is studying in Kensington and actually met up with us there. She, then, took us to the Tower Bridge and the Tower of London and that was really fun. I went into the Tower of London and saw the Crown Jewels. They are exquisite!! So sparkly and amazing. It is definitely the biggest diamond I've ever seen.

For lunch, we went to this pub nearby called The Hung, Drawn, and Quartered. It's called that because it is near the Tower of London where prisoners were kept and executed. Hung, Drawn, and Quartered is one of the miserable ways people were killed back then...yikes! Our last stop was St. Paul's Cathedral where Princess Diana was married. It's unbelievable. They had the crucifix up inside for Easter which was neat to see! I bet the services there are incredible.

Sadly, it was time to say "cheerio" to London, but it was a FABULOUS weekend, to say the least. I can't wait to go back to visit Kyle when she moves there! ;)