Sunday, March 20, 2011

Must Love... London

There’s something incredibly humbling about being in a country that is as old as England. To think about the millions of people who were there before you and the millions that will exist after you. How many amazing things happened and how many people who have changed history lived in the same city in which you now stand.

London was the place in which my love and appreciation for architecture and design began. The detail that went into buildings built so long ago is absolutely spectacular. They just don’t make things the same anymore, which is really sad. I loved walking along the busy London streets, staring up at each statue and monument, wondering what the people they were made to honour were like. We posed in front of Buckingham Palace, ducked into ruby red telephone boxes to pretend to make phone calls and strolled through the peaceful parks full of squirrels and birds.

By the time we arrived in London we were already starting to feel the lingering exhaustion that comes with fast-paced travel. We slept in, woke feeling refreshed and went out to explore the streets around our hotel. The first thing we saw was a protest, after asking around we discovered it was the result of education cuts. There's something very exciting about seeing a country passionate about their rights and looking after each other.

We then explored the British Museum, soaking in as much culture as we could handle before hitting the tourist shops, complete with coffee cups and dinner sets splashed with the images of the up and coming royal wedding. We continued our Irish tradition by spending the night out in London's West End mingling with our new tour members, berry cider in hand. By the end of the night everyone was following suite.

We were up early the next day on a driving tour of some of the major sites to see - Big Ben, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, West Minister Abbey and St Andrews before heading out of town to mysterious Stonehenge and magical Bath. Our day was filled with hot apple cider, natural water from the springs of Bath, traditional Cornish pasties and rich homemade fudge. We topped it all off with dinner in London's Brick Lane area (think an up-scale version of a restaurant stretch in Thailand or Bali) and a drink in The Ten Bells, where Jack the Ripper met most of his victims.

Our last day in London was spent wondering through St James park onto Trafalgar Square and then Downing Street past the Prime Minister's house. If you keep walking this way eventually Big Ben and West Minister Abbey will creep into view, sitting just in front of the Thames River and the London Eye, which provides a killer view of the city. Then it was time for the shopping to begin as we stopped in at Harrods and Top Shop, Zara and River Island along Oxford Street. Our afternoon was spent in Madam Tussuad's pretending to rub shoulders with the rich and famous before seeing the Chicago stage show on West End. We finished the night at a club seemingly run by the mafia, downing tequila and jager and dancing like a gangster on stripper poles. We were all class.

Popcorn x

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