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Finally... London... More coming

Phew! Finally a chance to update! I know it’s been about 3 weeks since I have, but bear with me and I’ll get through at least London, Dublin, and Edinburgh (my week-long break) and post about Berlin a little later. Sweet—here we go…

London:

Though I was staying by myself for the whole week, I traveled with a few people and met up with them in London. We got into the UK around 11:30pm their time (one hour behind Luxembourg). The problem was we were at London Stansted airport in Essex, about an hour and a half by bus from London! That meant I actually got to London proper about 1am on Saturday (2/24) at which time I had to take a cab to my hostel because night buses are so ridiculously slow that it would have taken me 4 hours to go 10 miles. The cabbie took me for pretty much everything I was worth, but gave me an interesting night tour—even if it did cost 60 quid (that’s about $120… yeah).
The next day I got up and met up with my friends at Buckingham palace, a truly awesome sight on the royal mile. I got there just in time to see the changing of the guard (which only happens every other day in the winter), a really neat ceremony complete with bands, horse guards, infantry… it’s intense. After that we headed to the theatre to see if they had some cheap Wicked tickets (the girls in the group really wanted to go), but no dice. We decided to head to Piccadilly Circus (not a real circus… don’t get too excited) to see the “Times Square of London.” Piccadilly was definitely the place that hippies hung out; there was a guy filming a documentary about uhm… male genetalia?... weirdo… as well as a hippy drum circle where they danced and howled at the sun. Yeah. Howled. After Piccadilly we walked around the city some more, rode the Tube (London Subway) and ended up at the queen’s park outside of Buckingham, actually a really interesting place for ornithologists, I think. I saw more different kinds of birds than I ever have, save the zoo. We walked through the horse guards’ barracks/staging area just as the sun was setting over London, making our way to Trafalgar Square. Trafalgar was in an uproar, they had a giant Chinese New Year celebration on Sunday they were setting up for, but we walked through the square and checked it out; it’s so busy! That night we tried to eat as cheap as possible and ended up going to a fish and chips/British roast restaurant in Greenwich (“Gren-itch”) where my friends were staying. We tried to go out to a club/bar after that, but it ended up being uptight and not liking our sneakers enough to let us in, plus they had a 5 quid cover ($10), so it was a no-go. I headed back to my hostel to sleep for Sunday.
Sunday (2/25) I got up and met my friends at The London Monument (monument to the Great Fire) where we started a 4½-hour walking tour. The tour was awesome; it’s a tips-based tour company that gives “free” tours for students, great company, we ended up using them in Berlin too. On the tour we saw: The Monument, Tower Bridge, London Bridge, Charles Dickens’ old hang out, The National Bank, The Temple of Mithras, St. Paul’s Cathedral (from the outside, I never got a chance to go in), The Tate Modern, The recreation of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, The Church of the Knight’s Templar, The Austrailian House (Used as the set of Gringott’s Goblin Bank in Harry Potter), Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, finally ending at Westminster Abbey. PHEW! It was a long tour, but completely worth the time. Our guide was amazing, she really knew the history of London to a T! Since we ended at Westminster, we decided to go to an Evensong service (musical service in the evening… go figure). It was a beautiful service in an amazing church. We didn’t really get to tour around the church, you have to pay 10 quid for that, but we got to experience services there, which I think was far more interesting. That night we walked back to Trafalgar Square and found a restaurant that served “Toad in the ‘Ole,” which, I felt I had to try since it was in the Disney classic, Bedknobs and Broomsticks. It’s plate with a Yorkshire pudding on it (think of it like a buttery bread bowl or something like that), with mashed potatoes, vegetables, gravy and topped off with a spiral of sausage… it was one of the best meals I’ve had in Europe! Topped off with a hand-pulled ale it was a dinner to die for.
That was London in a nutshell; the next morning I got up and headed back to the Airport, almost missing my plane (buses didn’t leave on time… ugh!) on my way to Dublin, Ireland!

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