Just got back from my weekend in London...and I think it's safe to say, it was hands down one of the most incredible weekends of my life! Ah, everything went so well, everyone had so much fun together, and we couldn't have gotten luckier with the weather, timing, and life in general. I was there from Friday afternoon to today, Sunday afternoon, and we were able to pack sooo much into such a short amount of time, and do it successfully!
Friday: I ended up going down with 5 other girls all together, but on Friday, only four of us took the early morning train because the other two had class to go to in the afternoon. So, at 7am on Friday morning, Emily, Natalie, Nora, and I set off to the train station in Edinburgh and headed to London King's Cross!! We all were able to sit together for the first part of the train ride, and we were all so excited that sleeping was pretty much out of the question. The train in total was about 5 hours, and the first half of the ride was spent in complete darkness (of course). However, after the sun came up, the ride was absolutely gorgeous. We road through all of these small english towns, some on the sea, some set in the most gorgeously green rolling hills, and all just the cutest towns I've ever seen. The whole ride I just kept thinking about how I am so excited to continue to explore the UK, because as great as all of my adventure in Europe will be, I chose the UK for a reason....it's absolutely gorgeous right here!
Anyway, so the train was a success. We arrived in London around 12 on Friday, and set off into the great big city! We figured out how to get out of the train station and into the underground fairly quickly, and quickly realized we were going to need to learn the tube system as fast as possible. We got a day-traveler card and headed toward the direction of our hotel...we hoped. Once of the subway, the great big london maps came out, and the four of us stood on the street corner and tried to locate the Venture Hotel. The tubes and maps went fairly smoothly actually for it being our first day and our first time fending for ourselves in London....or any city for that matter. There was only one snag in that statement...and of course, it was my fault. I failed ot get on the subway at one stop before the doors closed, and all of the girls made it on successfully. So, after realizing that I was not getting on with the rest of them, we proceeded to make sign language through the glass door and got the message across that we'd meet up at the next stop. It was my first and only experience being completely alone in London! I survived, but didn't like it too much. It was strangely reminiscent of an experience I had in the Denver airport, when my family didn't get on the train after me, and I ended up by myself there too. Hmmmm, is it me? Anyway, the Venture Hotel....our cheap hotel that we had found on the internet and prayed it would be liveable. Turns out, the Venture Hotel was in a extremely arabic part of London, where every restaurant and store has arabic on it's sign, and if you want Lebanese food, you will be able to choose from about 50 different places. The hotel itself was very safe and pretty nice, but the part of town it was in was a surprise. We decided to chalk it up to the experience of the weekend, and realized it wasn't so bad at all.
So after getting into the hotel and dropping our bags off, we set off toward Leicaster Square, in hopes of getting half off theater tickets for the next night. Our hotel was about a 5 minute walk from Oxford Street, Hyde Park, and the Marble Arch, so not a bad location at all! Once we got to Oxford Street, we walked down and explored for a while. The walk to Leicaster Square, probably a 30 minute walk on an average day, took the four of us about 1.5 hours because we kept getting distracted by stores and things to do! We stopped into Selfrages...a smaller version of Harrods, and needless to say, got lost in there for a while. Once pulling ourselves away from the shopping, we found the most amazing waffle stand (Wonder Waffle) in the world. If I could find words to describe this smell to you, I would. It was heaven. And the waffles were even better than the smell. AH, I wish we had Wonder Waffles in Brunswick, or Aspen, or the states in general. SO GOOD. We all agreed we'd be back before the trip was over. After eating the waffles, we continued on our way, and after finding our ticket booth and realizing we couldn't get tickets until the next day, headed toward the National Gallery. The museum sits in Trafalgar Square, which overlooks Big Ben, and somehow, we timed our trip there with sunset. WOW, was that ever gorgeous. The gallery was incredible too. We saw Monet's, Van Gough, and more. I'm not a huge art fanatic, but to see the artwork there was still impressive. It's funny...museum's always seemed like more of a drag when I was little...but I think now, being able to choose going to a museum, makes me appreciate the experience much more. I just kept thinking about how these artists could have created something so beautiful with paint. It's such a bummer that we don't have people like that anymore in this day and age. After leaving the gallery, we found a really weird Korean Sushi restaurant for dinner (quite the experience). The day ended with meeting up with the other two girls, Carolyn and Annie, and heading back to our hotel for some quality pillow talk and group bonding. The day was the absolute perfect start to an incredible trip.
Saturday: We woke up early on Saturday to a blue skye day (in london that's impressive!) so that we could head back to Leicaster Square and get tickets for a show for that night. Once walking back over there, we ended up getting half price tickets for..............WICKED!!!!!!!! Ah, to say I was excited to see the show was an understatement. None of us had seen the show, so we were all SO excited for that night! But, before that, we still had a whole day in front of us! So, we headed to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guards...and took the tube. I'm telling you, we were pro by the end of the trip at navigating the underground city. Successfully making it to Buckingham, we saw bits and pieces of the main event. Being short in a crowd of people really limits you're line of vision...so I missed most of the show, but being at the palace was still cool. Sadly, no sightings of the Queen or either one of the Princes, but who knows, maybe next time. From there, we walked to Westminster Bridge and Westminster Abbey. The Abbey is stunning....we went inside and took the audio tour....and the whole time I was just staring at the ceiling. I mean, HOW did they build a place like that? God, it boggles my mind every time. After many touristy pictures and some of us going on the Eye, we headed back towards our hotel to get ready for the show and the night! But, of course, we stopped on the way to get waffles (SO GOOD!).
Ok, Saturday night......there are no words for how perfect this night was. We got all dressed up, took the tube to Victoria Station and once we came up from the subway, we saw it....the Apollo Victoria Theater where Wicked was showing! Unfortunately, we only had an hour before the show was to start once we got over to that part of town, so after seeing that most of the restaurants were so full, we ended up at a little sandwich cafe, crowded around a tiny table, dressed up for the show. It seemed like a downer, but actually was perfect! Cheap, quick, and good! After we ate, we headed over to the theater, got to our seats, and waited for the show to start. Ok, let me tell you, Wicked was the most amazing show production I have ever ever ever seen. Oh MY GOD. It was absolutely incredible. Defying Gravity made me cry. I wish I could have rewound the show and started it over and watched it again. Best.Show.EVER. I have heard people talk about this show and listen to the music for years, and never understood what the hype was all about. But now, having seen it, I get it, and can officially say I am Wicked obsessed. In fact, the first thing I did when I got back to my computer tonight was download the soundtrack. And, yup, listening to it now while I'm blogging. AMAZING. Ok, back to the night. After the show, amazing as it was, the night just kept getting better! We thought about going to get drinks, but then decided we didn't want to be in a smokey bar in London, so we decided to walk around more! We headed back to Westminster Bridge and walked across it towards the Eye that was all lit up. Once we got to the other side of the Thames, we looked back and saw the Parliament building and Big Ben at night. Gorgeous is an understatement. It was a definite pinch-me-i'm-in-London moment. Headed back to the hotel after that for another night of pillow talk. It was so much fun being in the city with the girls I was with....it's crazy that we've only known eachother for a month and now I can't imagine my life without them. We all get along so well. I mean, we went to London as 6 girls and didn't have a minute of drama. That's pretty impressive! Anyway, the lights and the hotel afterwards was an absolute perfect ending to a perfect day.
Sunday: Today was a girly day to the max. We started at Kennsington Palace and walked through Princess Diana's collection of dresses. God, her life was a tragic fairytale. After looking at those designer dresses, we headed to Harrod's and got lost in the amazing food collection. I made the girls go to the ice cream sundae bar and we all split the most incredible, humungous sundaes in the world! God I was full after that! That was pretty much the last thing we did in London, and let me tell you, it couldn't have ended better.
I can't believe my first European trip has happened and is over already. London was an incredible way to start off my travels, but being able to come 'home' to Edinburgh was an amazing feeling. I really feel like everyday here changes me more and more, and London definitely did that to the max. I went to London when I was 20 with 5 of my amazing girl friends, and not only did we survive, we did it in an amazing way! The trip could not have been any better, and I can't wait to go on more European adventures with these girls!
As for new things I've done this past week....WOW, tons and tons. Um, going to London by myself pretty much sums up the list, but I think going to a show that I bought for myself tops everything so far. Wicked was incredible, and I'll remember that night and this trip for the rest of my life. Pictures will be up tomorrow...for now, I'm going to go listen to the Wicked soundtrack!