Living The Tourist Life
I cannot believe I have been in London for a month already – the days are flying by! The first several days were filled with countless greetings and names being thrown in every direction, and a lot of information concerning orientation. On the nights off and the weekend before classes began, I enjoyed some exploration time! Some of my friends and I went to Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park and the V&A – all of which I have seen before, but are still enjoyable. The Friday before classes, a few of us went to Mully’s Bar – one of three UCL bars – for an International Students British pub quiz. Did you know that Knightsbridge is the only tube stop to have seven consecutive syllables?
The scheduling is a little funny here, and so the first two weeks are when students can test the waters, and see what classes are like before their schedules (a word that is pronounced funny here) are finalised. With my class schedule, I am free on Wednesdays which is lovely for traveling. My first Wednesday off, I visited the house from the Parent Trap and Platform 9 3/4 with a few friends. After lunch time, we collected our cameras and rain gear and heading over to South Kensington via tube. From the tube station, we walked a few blocks over to find the house. Quickly our excitement dwindled down as we found the house to be under construction and barely recognisable (that ‘s’ was in fact intentional – the Brits tend to swap the letter ‘z‘ for ‘s‘). After the Parent Trap fail, my friends and I decided crepes would make up for the disappointment and so we stopped by the Creperie Cremerie in South Kensington, which was delicious. I had a summer fruits crepe, which featured an assortment of berries, currants, chocolate and whipped cream! Yummy! After filling our tummies, we took the tube to King’s Cross Station and ran into Platform 9 3/4 (literally). Each of us chose a house scarf and took a photo with the trolley. There was also a photographer there for photos you can buy and a man whose job is to hold the end of the scarf to make it look like we are running into the wall…I want that job. Then, we headed back to Ramsay Hall and enjoyed our dining hall food and called it a night!
A few days later, I took on another adventure: the London bus system. The London buses are very nice on the inside, and double decker which makes them even better. The map however is slightly confusing. First, we planned on heading over to Borough Market near London Bridge (which is not as big of a deal as most people think it is). We started at Warren Street and found that the Northern Line was only running for certain stops, so we took the Victoria Line to King’s Cross, and then wanted to change to the Northern Line. Whilst on the second tube ride, the train suddenly stopped at Angel and said the train was terminating here. From Angel, we were all clueless. We followed the crowd outside and found a bus stop with a direct bus to the London Bridge stop. Then everyone from our train pushed their way on the bus, and off we went. The market was very nice, but expensive. I had one chicken skewer with veggies from the soul food stand for lunch for £4. I also indulged and had one scoop of salted caramel ice cream made from goat’s milk on a cone, which was delicious and a bargain! After the market, we walked over the London Bridge, took some photos and saw the Great Fire of 1666 Monument. Despite the bitter cold, we decided to head up the monument (£3 and 311 steps). It was even chillier at the top, but it was beautiful and provided a great view. My fear of heights made the experience slightly less enjoyable, but I was very thankful for the fence around the full top. After the monument, we each received a certificate of completion and then headed home.
I have found that the easiest way to distinguish between a tourist and a local is that most tourists have google maps open on their phone while walking around. I have a basic phone, so that does not work for me, but thus far I have enjoyed all my exploring adventures/getting lost.