With just 33 days left on European soil, I still had a lot ahead of me. I had reconfirmed my prediction that city-living is definitely for me. Public transport is second nature, walking is the best way to get around, and food is easily accessible and, for me, on the go. My life has been delightfully hectic – packing and unpacking between weekend trips, frantically throwing coins into the laundry machines down the street, taking sunset jogs through Kensington Gardens, while squeezing in time for studies Monday through Wednesday. I seem to have mastered the London rudeness and race to anywhere walking down the streets, where everyone is a participant whether willing or not.
The past week I had enjoyed a trip to the Sherlock Holmes museum and a day in Regent Park with my English professor – and a delicious meal of duck at an Asian restaurant downtown. Before I knew it Friday morning had arrived and I was awoken by my alarm clock. I headed to Paddington Station to greet my first visitor in three months…
Colleen, Erin, and I have been glued at the hip since we were
awkward pre-teens with matching school uniforms, so it is no wonder that four months proved too long a stint to stay away. Their ten-day visit to London would commence just in time for Thanksgiving, and pull me out of the homesickness funk I was trying to avoid. Colleen arrived first sans-cell phone, and ignored instructions to meet me at the gate to the tube. After about twenty grueling minutes searching for the lost Irish girl, I spotted her in a train station café sipping espresso with an old English man. I guess she just couldn’t wait to enjoy some English culture… Erin met us a few hours later at my blue door in Notting Hill, and the group was successfully reunited across the big pond they call the Atlantic.
For the next ten days I was determined to play the ultimate tour guide, taking my companions to favorite spots I had discovered in London. We started out day one with Big Ben, the London Eye, and some street performers before lazily entering a pub where we would spend the rest of the evening
imbibing on some scrumptious ginger cocktails. Shocker. We continued this pattern of sightseeing –drinking – sleeping, (rinse and repeat), for the next week. But not to disregard the food. Oh the food! (My diet and exercise regime would have to resume post-visit).
Erin, Colleen, and I enjoyed just about every corner of London I could muster the energy to explore. We shopped in SoHo, Oxford Street and the opulent Mayfair area, and dazzled ourselves in Harrod’s. While I was at class, they would explore what I had seen and got history lessons at the Tower of London. We consumed several days’ worth of calories in delicious restaurants as compensation for busy days on our feet. We caught the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, strolled the beautiful Hyde Park, Green Park, and Kensington Gardens, took photos at Trafalgar Square and pretended to be interested in art at the National Gallery. We crossed Millenium Bridge to explore the Tate Modern museum at night, tried to get into Hogwarts at Platform 9 and 3/4, and caught live shows in Piccadilly Circus, (they saw ‘Dirty Dancing’ while I went to ‘Oedipus’ for class). We haggled for trinkets in Portobello Market, and even enjoyed a movie getting us ready for Christmas time back home. Our nights out were some of my favorites spent in London; I think we managed to patronize 50% of the pubs in London.
Thanksgiving Day was particularly memorable to me. We dressed our best and attended mass at the famous St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was holding a special ceremony for American visitors such as ourselves. That night we sought
out a traditional turkey dinner, which proved unexpectedly difficult to do. We ended up at a cheesy, overcrowded joint (fairly named ‘Big Easy’)which took two train rides and a long hike in the cold to find. Once we were finally seated, however, the food proved sufficient and reminiscent of that which our families would enjoy back home six hours later. We toasted red wine to our warm holiday spent with the family we choose ourselves… friends.
For pictures of our London trip as a threesome, check out Erin's albums by clicking the links below:
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