Though the forecast predicted inevitable rain for Saturday, it never showed up. Instead, it turned out to be a crisp and bright day.
Well rested, Mitch and one of his roommates, Max, joined Alleigh and I out for another day of sightseeing. Since they are new to the city as well, we decided to adventure to some noteable-but-less-popular sights. The first one was Abbey Road.
Confession: I love the Beatles. I grew up going to every Beatles cover-band concert in the central Wisconsin area, pretending George and Paul fought over who could take me on a date. I know every song by heart, and many by guitar.
Going to Abbey Road felt surreal and inspiring. The recording studio is still there and operating, it’s gate covered in messages from fans everywhere. The famous crosswalk is marked only by the many people standing there taking pictures, a man taking pictures of tourists imitating the walk (we loved that!), and a small plaque.
Do you think we pull it off?
Just a few blocks away, we paid a discreet visit to Sir Paul McCartney’s house. I was starstruck, though I couldn’t see over the gate!
On the other side of town, we went to Olympic Park. Though the area is well designed with a huge outdoor mall of shops and eateries alongside the stadiums, excessive construction put a little bit of a damper on this visit. Still, we all thought it was really cool to see where the Olympics had brought so much excitment just two years ago. We even stood in the natatorium where Michael Phelps made his comeback! So cool.
After that, we made our way back downtown for our 5PM date with the London Eye. Around 4PM I started to sweat from nerves and around 4:45PM I was reminding myself to breathe. Fear of heights, kids.
But I did it! In the words of the Beatles, I got by with a little help from my friends.
Of course my knees shook the entire half hour and I moved low and cautiously like a wet cat, but I had an unforgettable experience watching the sun set over one of the world’s best cities with my best friends. 450 feet above the Thames, London looks like a well-crafted model train set. It’s just immaculate, and you could never see it all.
My adrenaline worked up an appetite, and thought I deserved a gold star for my bravery – which meant Fish N Chips at a traditional pub, of course. After grabbing a table in the packed place, we went up to the bar to order Britian favorites and local beer on tap.
Long 21, Mitch laughed at Alleigh’s and my excited reaction when we were carded at the bar, and could use our own IDs. It was a first for both of us, and a perfect event to toast to after a great day.
Dinner was fantastic. Aside from the light-and-flakey fish, I particularly loved the mushy peas. Looks like I am becoming more like my mom more and more every day!
Full bellies and tired feet, we hung out at home for a few hours before going back out to another pub in Camden with Mitch and another of his roommates. It was a super fun way to end our trip. We didn’t want it to end!
Of course, it had to.
Before we knew it, we were on the train back to the airport, where long security longs and delays furthered the blow of leaving such a beautiful place. Promises to return soon, favorite moment recaps, and overall London-gushing soon faded to two girls sound asleep all the way to a rainy Rome.
This weekend was made great by so many things. First and foremost, the people in my life.
- Alleigh, you are the best travel partner I could ask for and I enjoyed every second with you! I honestly can’t wait for the rest of the semester with you.
- Mitch, you are hospitable beyond belief and I hope that when you do come to Rome I can give you an experience like you gave to us this weekend. So happy we can spend time together once we’re back at school. I know we will have so much to talk about!
- Mom, your love of London and excitement for me to take this trip was what really made the experience so special for me. I loved everything I saw and I loved it because they reminded me of you. I can’t wait to see you in a few short weeks!
- Gail, (my mom’s best friend who lived in London) your advice was so helpful and made my trip way more fun! London is so you, and I hope at some point we can all go together. I know there’s more to see and I want you to be the one who shows it to me! You are so lucky to have lived there!
And of course, the weekend was made great simply by being set in London itself.
London was perfect in my eyes. I really felt a sharp pang leaving, and felt deeply sorry that I wasn’t studying there for a semester. I do like Rome a lot, but the culture and style of London reflected me so much more. I do believe my study abroad experience was to challenge myself and learn to adapt in a foreign culture – a feat much simplier where English is the first language and the vibe is Chicago meets Washington DC. For that reason, I know Rome is right for me. But will I ever get London out of my mind?
At least I hope not.
Enjoy the Superbowl, everyone! I’m envious of big gatherings, stupid commercials, and lots of party food. There’s nothing like it!
*Lastly, I’ll post an excessively large amount of photos to Facebook tomorrow and embed the link for it in a post. Hope you enjoyed a little taste of them in these last updates.*
Ciao, for now.