In early October, my friend Anna and I took a trip to London, England and Inverness, Scotland. We got to do and see so much, which is why I'll be breaking up this story in a couple parts.
I studied abroad in Londonin the spring of 2011, and this was my first time back to London (& Europe), since I returned home. To say I had a good time studying abroad would be such a drastic understatement. After finding ridiculously low priced airfare from AirFare Watch Dog, we booked our flights almost a year in advance. I was so happy to be able to travel with one of my very best friends to a place that is so special to me, and share that with her. We did a lot of the things I had already done before, but we ended up finding new places to go and things to do. We had exceptionally great weather for London though. It rained one morning, but other than that, it was so sunny and gorgeous!
First Night: We stayed near King's Cross, so we took the Tube to London Bridge on our first night. Of course, we had to go see Platform 9 3/4 when were were at King's Cross. It's funny how much it's changed in 3 years. In 2011, it was literally just the cart at the actual place of where Platform 9 3/4 would be (between Platform 9 & 10). Now, they've remodeled King's Cross so the cart is in the front area. They actually have a couple entertainment people there with props, who can take a professional photo for you. If you're not by yourself, you can just have your friend take your photo (like we did).
Covent Garden: One of my favorite places in London is Covent Garden. I love that this market is half indoor, half outdoor. It's very 'modern posh' now, but it used be a huge red-light district of London in the 18th century, so it still has that gritty feel to it.
The paella at Covent Garden is amazing, and hasn't changed. I mean, look at that mussel! So great.
Buckingham Palace: Ah, Buckingham Palace. Where the Queen resides, where Kate & Will had their first married public kisses, and where the great Prince Harry lives only a house away. There is a long, straight road that leads up to Buckingham Palace, called The Mall, and it was just the perfect fall day there.
Shoreditch: When I was studying abroad, I spent a lot of time in Shoreditch. Most of my study abroad group lived in Shoreditch, so we usually went out in that area. It's definitely 'the place' to be now, especially if you're a young college student. Anna and I went to see it at night, and ended up stumbling upon this amazing food market that reminded me of Smorgasburg in Brooklyn.
Tower Bridge & Tower of London: The Tower of London & Tower Bridge never get old for me. The Tower of London has been around since the 12th century, and it's absolutely such a unique site to visit. The Tower Bridge is obviously a little newer than the 12th century, but I love how they matched the esthetics to the Tower of London. I always think it's so amazing that there are a large group of people who live in the Tower of London, and still to this day, defend the Queen. While most of their day job is now telling stories to tourists, I love that traditions and old laws are still semi in-tact in London.
This year, the Tower of London was celebrating WWI in a really unique way. They put out 800,000+ red, plastic poppies to commemorate each soldier that lost their life during World War I. It was absolutely stunning to see all of the red poppies against the green grass.
Millennium Bridge: One of the key bridges in the Harry Potter movies is the Millennium Bridge. I actually never ventured to see that, or St. Paul's Cathedral when I studied abroad. I also never read Harry Potter until 2012 - gasp! - so this was really exciting to see.
University of Westminster: This is where I lived and studied for 6 months in 2011. It was so special to show Anna this little slice of my past life. The Harrow campus has changed so much, but it was so good to go back and see it.
Hyde Park & Kensington Palace: Hyde Park in London is like what Central Park is in NYC. Only Hyde Park is connected to an actual palace, and Central Park is not. Kate & Will actually live in Kensington Palace now, so we were so close to the Duchess!
Borough Market: One of my other favorite places in London is Borough Market. It's this giant outdoor market that has such great meats, cheeses, pasta, etc. It was a little disappointing because we weren't aware that the 'full' market is Thursday-Sunday, and we didn't go on one of those days. But, it was still great to wonder around.
I hope that if you are fortunate enough to go to London, you have the best time! It's seriously one of my most favorite places. The next parts of our trip include Harry Potter & Scotland!