The hostel in London was just outside of the city and superb- brand new with an excellent breakfast. We had one hostel-mate: a girl from Seattle who was in the process of becoming a certified life coach and was spending a few weeks traveling around Europe. She shared our hatred of the large Spanish and French secondary school-ers who enjoyed screaming at 7 am.

            London was the only place in Europe that I had been to before, so I had a pretty good idea of the crucial spots to hit. Number 1? King’s Cross station to take pictures with the Platform 9 ¾ replica. Unfortunately, Harry Potter and friends were nowhere to be seen. We took the tube to Piccadilly Circus, the London equivalent of Time’s Square, and ate dinner in Chinatown. By then we were whooped and it was about 11 pm, so we headed back to the fantastic hostel.

Welcome to London, please Mind the Gap!

 

London Skyline

            After a delicious and nutritious breakfast, we took the tube back into the city and walked all around, hitting up London Bridge, the Tower of London, taking some double decker buses, Harrods (depressing experience), and the Natural History museum, which was pretty much the coolest museum ever, but fell at an inconvenient time as the Maura and Lindsay were rather grumpy and hungry. Nonetheless, I sincerely enjoyed the talk like a whale exhibit and the interactive-meant-for-small-children human body exhibit. Then we made a crucial decision: We decided to spring for the London Eye.

View from the London Eye

            If you’ve never heard of the London eye, it is a giant Ferris wheel- the world’s largest Ferris wheel- that takes about 30 minutes to ride and offers absolutely awesome views of the city. We waited until the last possible minute to ride it before it closed for the day so we could hit it right at dusk and it was awesome. A little bit frightening, on account of the fact that you are enclosed in these glass cage things and are up super de duper high, but worth it. And afterwards we got McFlurrys, officially completely our international tour of McDonalds. Yes!

Sky high above London

            Then it was the final day in the UK. We sort of just wandered around the city- we caught the end of the changing of the guard with about a million of our best friends, then walked through the Buckingham Palace Gardens and enjoyed the pretty flowers. Oh, and then we ate lollypops that were spun by hand in Bruges and Maura’s had the word “Julie” written into it. No lie- it was insane! But you may have had to be there, so there is a good chance that you don’t give a hoot what the inside of Maura’s lollypop said. We ate lunch on a park bench outside of Westminster Abbey and watched these 4 people with a stuffed sheep and a video camera do all sorts of different things with Big Ben in the background for a good half hour. My theory was that they were young entrepreneurs on an advertising campaign that featured the stuffed sheep. When I got up the nerve to ask, I was answered in a posh London accent “No, we are just making a silly video to put up online.” To my disappointment, I have attempted every combination of Sheep and London in the YouTube search engine and have not been able to locate this “silly video”. I’ll let you know if I ever do.

I forgot to mention that we found our dopplegangers in London. You may have noticed that we wore our blue and green raincoats for a month straight...

            Then it was time for the Grand Finale… Wicked! We had tickets to see Wicked on its final night and we beyond excited for it. Not to undermine everything else in the city, but Wicked was my favorite part. It was such a cool show! Really, it had such neat-o sets and I loved the music! Yes indeedy, it was a swell show.

            That was it for London. The next day we spent getting up late and packing our backpacks to the max, discarding many a travel worn article of clothing in addition to my giant jar of peanut butter. We had a 5 pm flight back to Ireland, and it took us most of the day to just get to the airport. We made it on to our Ryan Air (budget airline) flight wearing at least 3 shirts a piece and carrying a good bit of stuff shoved in our jackets, but the bags were underweight even if Maura and I had gained 10 lbs a piece overnight, and that’s all that matters.

            We boarded the plane and had a serious reflective conversation about what we had just done. It had been a month. I have yet to meet a person who has not enjoyed travelling or studying abroad, but truly there are no words to describe how lucky I feel to have had that experience. It was incredible. Absolutely incredible.