Rainy tour of London

14 June 2010

Day 10: London - Friday, June 11th
Everyday we were in London, we woke up to crumpets. First, we spread them with butter and black currant jam. We bought a jar of jam. Then, we had it with peanut butter and black currant jam. We stocked up on peanut butter. Then, we had the best of all: crumpets coated in Cadbury spread and crunchy peanut butter. Needless to say, the Cadbury made the cut. In less than 24 hours, we'd added five newly-considered necessities to our packs.

Just outside of Victoria Station, we grabbed lunch at a little cafe called City Harvest. Holly choose a baguette with brie, salami and chorizo. I ordered the chicken noodle, which was more of a Thai dish. The prices were budget-friendly and the food hit the spot!

Being the tourists that we are, we hopped a CitySeeing bus to check out the area. It isn't our typical mode of travel, but we were able to cover so many sites in such little time. We even had a brief Thames River cruise included in the tour!

And as an added bonus, we wrapped up our day with a late-night Jack the Ripper tour. Personally, I didn't know the circumstances of Jack the Ripper but quickly learned of the gruesome details. In fact, our tour guide may have been a suspect in the case himself. He gave me the shivers!

Hyde Park, Princess Diana's Memorial Rose Garden

Unfortunately, all of London is under construction. They're busy preparing for the 2012 summer Olympics. Our photos are a bit bland with all of the cranes and construction workers in the background. Trafalgar Square was transforming into a concert venue, but unfortunately, we never got to see the performance.

Day 11: London - Saturday, June 12th
We woke up a bit late and stumbled out the door to take a peek a the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace.

Along the way to the palace, we came across Whittard's, which is a cute little tea shop on Buckingham Palace Road. There are a number of them all throughout London. It was full of flavorful teas, intricate teapots and adorable English tea cups. They offer free samples daily, and in some locations you can even create your own tea. It was one of our favorite shops.

With much excitement to take part in a truly British tradition, we left Michelle's early and walked around Westminster Abbey and Big Ben before catching a cruise along the Thames to explore the Tower of London.

At first we were skeptical about paying £14.50 for the student fare, but Tower of London did not disappoint. In fact, it quickly climbed the ranks and landed a spot as one of our favorite attractions. We were lucky enough to arrive just before a short tour with one of the famous Beefeaters. He was hilarious and made our history lesson better than any from the books. Following the tour, we caught a glimpse of the crown jewels and the well-known torture chamber. We trekked in and out of rooms where prisoners once lived in captivity. The prisoner's graffiti remained preserved, depicting their thoughts and frustrations as hostages.

Later that night, Michelle took us to a pub near her apartment called The Trafalgar where we each enjoyed a bottle of pear and lemon cider. Yum!

Day 12: London - Sunday, June 13th

Early the next morning, we met up with another friend from the camp. Bryony, also referred to as Cookie, blessed the camp with her presence during our first year living there. The last time we saw here, I was just six years old! It was nice to see a another familiar face and have someone accompany us around London. She took us to the British Museum, where we took a look at Egyptian architecture and of course, the Rosetta Stone.

Earlier that day, we heard that many things in the museum were at one point stolen (or acquired, as the British say) by the government. During past wars, the British included in treaties lists of items their victories won them. Without this loot, the museum would be nearly empty!

The collection of mummies and one-of-a-kind artifacts the museum houses fascinated us. Bryony also shopped with us along the beloved Oxford Street. We found the Forever21 replica, Primark, selling super cheap clothing. That's just what we needed as we approached our third week. Holly and I were pretty sick of wearing the same outfits and my desperation for socks was growing. We picked up a few essentials without breaking the bank and loved our Primark findings.

Before departing London, Bryony took us out to Covent Garden which was absolutely fabulous! Artisans and crafters mixed with talented street performers sounded like a nice way to end our trip in London. We grabbed some fresh berries from the market and camped out on a curb to view one of the many dancers before heading back to Michelle's.

For our final meal with Michelle, Holly and I stopped at Waitrose and picked up a bunch of ingredients to surprise and thank Michelle with our favorite Wisconsin meal: homemade mac 'n cheese! We had a fantastic stay and we were sad to be leaving Michelle and this hoppin' city. London is such a fabulous place, but Edinburgh still remains my favorite thus far.

Day 13: Paris - Monday, June 14th
To the continent! We boarded the Eurostar this morning, and now we're excited to see what the next few countries have to offer! More to come later, though. Holly needs to catch up on a long list of e-mails. Check back soon, please.

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