London Calling

Once you’ve visited London, you’ll always want to go back.

Posted by Morgan

Oh how I’ve missed the English language. The language where I understand whether the sign says “train delayed” or “train departing.” The language where I understand whether the bottle of liquid says “makeup remover” or “rubbing alcohol.” The language where I understand whether the menu says “steak” or “beef brains.” As you can probably guess, after a month in France, I was missing the ease of communication I had with the people in the states, so when a three day weekend arrived my sorority big, Dana, and I decided to go to London!

Dana and I had decided on London at the last possible minute. She was suffering from the GTL plague and was not exactly up for planning a trip, and me, being my indecisive self, was spouting off about ten different destinations we could go to. Thank goodness she was a good friend and put up with me for this. I swear each day leading up to our three day weekend I had an entire new trip planned: Budapest, Lyon, Florence, Salzburg. But in the end, the 3 hour journey on the Chunnel, the train that goes from Paris to London under the English Channel, and the English language was what hooked us on our destination: London.

I love London. I have been there before and it just has this classiness and ease to it. Of course there are those people that think of the charming British accents or The Spice Girls when they think of England, but my mind always wanders to a charming tea, the elegant queen, or the beautiful architecture of Big Ben. It’s my kind of place.

Lucky for us, It just so happened that the weekend we were there was also the celebration of the Queen’s 90th birthday. I learned this from a friend of mine who was interning for a publishing company in London. I had told her of our plans to visit and she suggested meeting up for the Queen’s birthday parade.

We met at the Piccadilly Train station and then walked over towards the Waterloo steps to get a good spot to see the queen. We caught up on how our lives in college were going and how we were enjoying our summer of traveling. It was so fun to be with a friend from my home town, thousands of miles away!

Unfortunately, we waited for much longer than anticipated to see the queen; however, the long wait gave us time to people watch and talk to the people around us. Oddly enough, this was an enjoyable way to pass the time. We saw a man dancing around in a skirt that was far too short and protesting about the debate over Brexit. We heard a group of older women discussing what color they thought the queen would wear: lavender or lime green (this debacle made us chuckle to no end, and she ended up wearing lime green believe it or not). Then, to make our wait even more interesting, we met a woman next to us whose son went to Georgia Tech! We conversed over the Georgia Tech-Lorraine program and how her son was excited for his final year at Tech. What a small world.

We saw the queen!
We saw the queen!

When the queen finally came, the crowd went wild, waving their British flags in the air and shouting. For about two minutes, I was able to see the speck of lime green that was the queen. That was pretty much the extent of the parade, but it was still a fun experience and now I can say, “I’ve seen the queen. Have you?”

Afterwards, Dana and I ventured over towards Westminster Abbey. We took the time to be stereotypical tourists, snapping cheesy photos and jumping up and down. When we were done, the hunger pains started ringing and we began to look for lunch. Being a lover of soccer, I forced Dana to go to a traditional British pub with me so I could watch the Euro Cup. I loved this. As I ate my fish and chips, fixated on the tv, the men around me cheered on their team, cursing off when they thought a foul should have been called and yelling with excitement when a goal was scored. It was a cultural experience and clearly a highlight of my trip.

Just us being tourists.
Just us being tourists.

The rest of the day was spent exploring. This meant we got lost a lot, which is probably why our feet hurt so much by the end of the day. Even though we had a subway card, Siri told us we walked 12 miles that day. When the evening came, we decided we needed sleep after all that walking, so instead of seeing a bit of London at night we went back to our hotel and were in bed by 11pm. Such fun college students we are!

The next day involved much less walking- only five miles this time! We went to Camden Market and just walked around. It was an assortment of cool shops and artwork. Then there were the food stands that shoved their free samples in our face to try and get us to buy something which only filled me with overwhelming anxiety; however, the day was finished with a relaxing evening at the theater. According to our research, which consisted of Google, we learned that NYC and London had some of the best theater in the world, so we bought tickets to see the Lion King. I can confidently say that it was one of those instances where Google was right.

The Market.
The Market.

The show was amazing: the costumes, the music, the acting! Dana left with a feeling of contentment and I left with the tune of Hakuna Matata stuck in my head. It was a great way to finish our trip.

Sitting on the train on our way back to Metz, France, Dana, the person who doesn’t get excited by much, had a huge smile across her face. “I loved London,” she said. “I’m going to live there when I get older. Do you think they have jobs for chemical engineers there?”

Clearly London was a hit, and it made me happy that she loved the city just as much as I do. As we entered back into the Metz train station, the signs were now all in French, the restaurant menus, now all in French, the conversations around us, now all in French. It was time to go back to the confusing state of mental disarray, but at least we had a weekend in English. At least we had London.