This Summer I had the opportunity to study abroad in Ireland with the business department. The program was 6 weeks long with classes Tuesday-Thursday allowing us to travel freely Friday through Monday. My favorite trip was to London, it was only about an hour plane ride.
The city of London is a huge melting pot of backgrounds and cultures with so much to explore. Our hostel was nestled quaintly in the Leytonstone borough and was just a short walk away from the train station. To get around the city we had to purchase Oyster cards which are similar to the metro cards at home. The tube system was actually pretty easy to manage and connected all around the city, so we got to experience first hand how big London is.
Our first stop was to Hyde Park and we started walking from there. We made it all the way to Buckingham Palace, the home and headquarters of the United Kingdom’s administration. The building possessed an exquisite atmosphere and tourists swarmed all around soaking it up. Some were even posing and imitating the guards as they stood so solemnly behind the gates. Across from the palace was a beautiful fountain dedicated to Queen Victoria. Surrounding it were others statues representing courage, constancy, charity, victory, motherhood, and truth.
We also visited the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge, the Tower Bridge was my favorite though. Both of these were built with beautiful infrastructure and elegantly complimented the style of the city. We were greeted with hospitality and courtesy wherever we went. It’s safe to say that London has some of the nicest people I have ever met. We also walked to the London Eye, a huge Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames flowing through the city. Street performers, shops, restaurants, and an outdoor book sale crowded around the Eye attracting lots of tourists and visitors to the area.We spent a lot of time there taking in everything and giving our feet a rest. There were so many representations of people and cultures and it was a wonderful thing to be a part of.
When we arrived back in Leytonstone we got dinner at a Moroccan food place and finished the night with a crepe from a local cafe. The next morning we headed back into the city to witness the Pride Parade. The LGBT community is widely accepted in urban areas of Europe so it was in good timing that we were in town to experience the celebration. The main avenues were closed off and there were thousands of people in the streets cheering and chanting as parade floats coasted in between the crowd. People were dressed in vibrant colors and rainbows as they danced around in joy.
Simultaneously, was the World Cup quarter-finals game, England vs. Sweden. This made it much harder to make it through the crowds. To find a free seat in a bar or even sit down at a restaurant to eat lunch was pretty difficult. We ended up watching the game from outside a bar through the window. As England kicked in the winning goal, everyone started chanting “futbol’s coming home” and rejoicing in the streets. We joined along and got to experience London at it’s complete best moment.
On our last day, we went to the O2 Arena, where most of the popular concerts are held, the dome was huge. Across the corridor was a cable car ride that gave you a spectacular view of the city and all its districts. We rode back and forth in awe of the city’s beauty and the great time that it showed us. I couldn’t ask for a better way to end the weekend. London will always have a special place in my heart and I can’t wait until I return.