London was the first stop on the Beer & Skittles European Grand Tour.
We chose it because (a) neither of us had been to London before; (b) we’re not very creative itinerary planners, and it was the first big city that popped into our heads; and (c) they speak English. We were fairly certain that our brains couldn’t possibly handle the difficulties of navigating a language barrier while also processing the shock of the whole OMG-WHAT-DID-WE-JUST-DO-WITH-OUR-LIVES thing. London was the perfect city to ease us into our new life.
This was also our time to be tourists before we started volunteering. London is great for tourists, by the way. There is so much to do and see. We were there for a week and we barely scratched the surface. The museums are free, the parks are plentiful, and the Tube is by far the easiest public transportation system that I have ever used. We did so much walking and exploring throughout the week, I’m sure that my feet would have fallen off if not for my orthopedic walking shoes. (They may be super dorky, but at least I still have my feet.)
As you may be able to tell from some of these photos, it rained quite a bit during our visit, even though it was summertime in most other parts of the northern hemisphere. But, like good Seattleites, we were prepared for rain and it didn’t slow us down one bit. And, since London seems to have a never-ending supply of free museums, it was quite easy to occupy our time and stay dry.
We were fortunate enough to experience some warm, sunny days too. On those days we spent our time roaming the city streets or chilling in one of the city’s lovely parks. Of which there are, like, a million. There seriously may be more parks than museums. Also, public drinking is allowed, and on these days when the sun appears, it seems like half the city grabs a pint and some snacks, and heads to the nearest park for a picnic. You know, since we’re trying to be locals and all, we did too.
There is also no shortage of markets. Some are everyday of the week, some are just weekly, and nearly each neighborhood seemed to have one of its own. These markets sell food, antiques, souvenirs, jewelry, clothing, and a lot more. The Camden markets were buzzing with activity on the day we visited. It’s huge collection of many smaller markets, which we actually didn’t realize. The various markets and shops bleed into each other creating an endless mass of stalls. It’s the perfect place to find a unique souvenir and something delicious to snack on. (My mouth still waters each time I recall that salmon katsu curry.)
Okay, so, we did visit Greenwich and we saw the Meridian Line, but did you know that it costs £7 + a 30 minute wait to stand on the line and take a picture? Eff that noise. We stood outside the gate and watched other people stand on the line – it was still a satisfying experience.
We read that when in London, one must visit Charbonnel et Walker to taste the only official chocolate that Her Majesty The Queen eats. So, even though it was a bit pricey, we were feeling extra fancy and decided to splurge on some chocolate truffles. It was worth it.
At the end of the week I was done with all this muggle shit, so I took myself down to Platform 9&3/4 and now I’m at Hogwarts. I’m not 11 and I didn’t receive my acceptance owl, but they still let me in – what nice wizards!
Psyche! I’m still a boring ol’ muggle. But at least I can pretend.