It is an interesting feeling showing people around in a city that you haven’t lived in for very long. I have spent time in London in the past, but visiting and day-to-day living, are very different experiences.
I took a break from studying to visit with my parents after their tour of the UK and Holland. I met up with them at the train station in Cambridge. We jumped on a standing-room-only train to London and made our way to their Bed and Breakfast. We had a nice Italian dinner, made some sightseeing plans, and I hopped a train home. The next week was spent having great food and enjoying the North and South Banks of London. The first day, we went to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. Basically we saw them march toward and away from the gates, I have video to prove it.
Then we moved on to Westminster Abbey. I have to say the gothic splendor is a little overwhelming, but amazing; there are quite a lot of people buried in that church. After that, we headed over to Trafalgar Square for lunch and the sights. I left them to enjoy the rest of the windy day, and walked down the street to my university for my class.
The next day, we went to Winston Churchill’s war rooms, which are buried in a bunker of a building near Parliament. History fascinates me, so I really enjoyed being there. I think my parents liked it even more than I did.
Once you make your way through the first set of rooms, preserved from Churchill’s last days, you enter the museum that houses loads of memorabilia from his life. Then the tour leads you through the final rooms that were recreated based on documents and former employees memories. They say it takes 90 minutes, I say it takes two to three hours depending on if you are the type that must read and listen to everything. Next, we headed over to South Bank for lunch at All Bar One. Then we did the London Eye experience, which really is a spectacular view, and a cruise on the River Thames. It was great to have them here and I am glad that they finally took a vacation; it had been a while. They spent a few more days in town, but unfortunately I had loads of seminars to attend.
Two weekends later my friend Diana arrived. Now, she and I have spent time together in London before. We live about two hours away from each other by plane in the states, but seem to meet up out of the country more frequently these days (another visit in December, Paris).
We met up Friday afternoon after my last seminar and went out for drinks while we waited for our other friends to finish work. Yes, most of my friends actually work. We eventually wound up at a Thai Restaurant near the National Gallery for a late dinner and I eventually made my way home. Saturday we started out on the North Bank. I was supposed to meet her at the Tate Museum, but ended up at the wrong bridge (there are about 6 in a row). So, I wandered into Le Pain Quotidien to escape the cold wind and ordered a café. Once she arrived we moved on to dinner and other beverages. We walked across the bridge and found a pub near her hotel, but drank only half of or drinks when they said we are closing…But, it isn’t even 12:00. So off to her hotel we went. It was not yet Halloween, but on the way home I saw a ton of great costumes. The pubs might have closed, but clubs were still open and people were everywhere.
Next up, Cyprus.