Saturday, March 1, 2014

"Oh Yeah Baby"

Day Numero Uno

The title is in my best Austin Powers voice. I was so excited to arrive in London.  After class finished on Valentine’s Day, everyone (because there were 15ish of us) piled onto the local bus to go to McDonald's before we headed to the airport. That was the first time, and first taste of home I had, since I arrived in France. And I was hesitant.  I wanted to save a trip to McDo (as the French call it) till I was painfully homesick and that hadn't happened yet.  I begrudgingly ate the simple cheeseburger, and it caused homesickness as opposed to remedying it.  Suddenly I missed my family more than anything.

Pushing that aside, I followed the group through the airport in Nice and I figured it was time to start a book.  (Only way to travel if you ask me) I was recommended the Divergent series by friends and figured that was a good place to start since the movie is coming out mid-March.  Much like Hunger Games, I was hooked but slightly less so. It was a fine series (as is no surprise I finished it in three plane rides-duh there are three books-one per plane). Not my favorite but not bad. Quick, easy read. There are the occasional curve balls, and only one took me by surprise aka Allegiant’s ending. Those of you who have read it know what I’m talking about. But it kept me occupied which all I desired from it. 

Upon arrival at Gatwick, we made our way to Victoria Station, then to the Holburn Tube stop.   After walking a ways, we arrived at our hostel, Astor Museum Inn Hostel. After settling in, a few of us decided to get dinner and a pint at Shakespeare’s Head promptly followed by meeting the rest of the group at a bar in Covent Garden-which happens to be one of my favorite areas of London. 

The next morning I met up with Stevie and Ragin!! They are studying in Ireland for the semester so we figured a Valentine’s Day reunion in London was perfect.  We met at the Tower of London, which is like 20-some pounds to enter (read EXPENSIVE), and instead headed over to Tower Bridge and decided to go up and see the city. Following that, we walked to the Monument of the Great Fire of 1666. Ragin, who is afraid of heights, was slightly freaking out as we climbed the winding staircase to the top.  Once we were up there, amidst the 30 mph winds, we got the most amazing and sweeping views of the city. 

Being ultimate tourists, we went to Kings Cross to take pictures at Platform 9 ¾ .  Essential if you care about Harry Potter at all!  After we had the most fun ever, and I mean ever, we decided to grab lunch at a cute little café and then head over to Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, the Marble Arch, Hyde Park, and Harrods.  Sounds like a lot right? Well, because it was!

We were exhausted when it finally became time to go to Whitechapel. Why were we in the dodgy East End of London you ask? Simple...we were going on a Jack the Ripper walking tour.  You know, the serial killer who lived in the East End terrorizing the citizens of London during the autumn of 1888.  It was grisly, scary, creepy, and any other goose-bump-inspiring adjective you can think of.  We saw scenes of murders, autopsy photographs, and even met a local crack addict that decided to harass the entire group on the tour. 

Overall, COOLEST THING EVER!!! I HIGHLY recommend this tour.  It is not for the weak stomached though. But growing up, my mom instilled a deep rooted respect for Law and Order: SVU. Now this was not the same, because Jack the Ripper was not into  “sexually based offenses, which are considered especially heinous.” He was more adept at just slitting throats.  Still knowing he was never caught was spooky enough. 

Moral of the story: SO MUCH FUN! 

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