After not having seen my Mum and Dad for four months, their arrival in London was very exciting for me. They landed early last Friday morning, on the day of the Royal Wedding. We didn’t make any attempts at sightseeing that day; partly due to their understandable exhaustion, and partly because London was in a state of chaos.
We had a nice day nonetheless. After watching part of the Royal Wedding on TV, we wandered around Hampstead Heath and had lunch in Hampstead Village. I think they were suitably impressed with the area I’ve been living in. The halls themselves, perhaps not as much…
Later that afternoon, Cousin Bev and Roger had us over for a traditional English afternoon tea. Champagne, finger sandwiches, scones with jam and cream… the works. It was a lovely way to end Mum and Dad’s first day in London. Plus, the weather was nice enough that we could sit out in the garden.
On day two they were more awake, and ready to explore. I got a kick out of playing tour guide, and I think they were impressed with my knowledge and confidence in getting around London. Because they had been to London before, there was no need to rush frantically to all the sights. Rather, I was able to show them some of my favourite parts of London.
We started off at Borough market, with the intention of walking along the River Thames until reaching my campus. A walk along the Thames Path offers views of many of London’s attractions. St Paul’s Cathedral took our fancy, and we decided to go inside, something I hadn’t had the chance to do yet. I’m really pleased we did. From the outside, you can see it’s a beautiful building; but you can hardly anticipate the awe-inspiring interior. It’s huge, yet everything has such intricate detail.
We had audio guides explaining the history to us, and were able to venture down into the crypt. But what was more exciting was climbing the stairs to the whispering gallery. They say if you whisper on one side you can be heard on the other. Maybe we were doing it wrong, but it didn’t work for us. However, it was amazing to look down on the Cathedral floor.
As if climbing 257 steps wasn’t enough, we went up some more to a gallery on the outside of the dome where we had 360° views of the city. And then we climbed even higher to the Golden Gallery, above the main dome. We almost blew away, but the views were certainly worth it. And London was again putting on nice sunny weather for us.
For the rest of the afternoon, I showed them my university campus and it’s Library. Speaking of the Library, the round reading room has served as Dumbledore’s Office in the Harry Potter movies. The other day I studied in there – cool, no?
We also spent some time in Covent Garden, where we wandered around, got some exorbitant but delicious ice cream, and watched a street performer juggle chainsaws – quite something else.
On Sunday we went to Greenwich, a place South of London I had never been to before. It’s best known for its maritime history, and of course Greenwich Mean Time. The town used to be the site of a Royal Palace, so there are lots of beautiful, old buildings to visit, which today make up the Royal Naval College.
We took a quick visit to the National Maritime Museum, before heading through some beautiful parkland up to the Royal Observatory. There is an astronomy-type museum there, which was interesting, but the main attraction is the Prime Meridian passing through the building. We stood in a long queue of tourists to have the obvious photo on either side of the line.
Victorian and Georgian architecture dominates the small but atmospheric town centre. There’s a well known market, too, which we enjoyed having a look around. We particularly enjoyed the chocolate and caramel filled churros we bought there. Instead of the train, we took a boat along the River Thames back to central London.
The next day we did some more sightseeing; things I have already done which are detailed in previous posts, including the Globe Theatre and the Tate Modern. We attempted to visit Westminster Abbey, but it was to no avail. Three days after the wedding, the flowers were on display, and the lines to get inside stretched hundreds of metres down the street. Apparently London had not yet recovered from the wedding fever!
While I had done a number of the things before, it was a different experience because of the weather. It’s certainly much nicer walking along the Thames and doing all these things in the sunshine than it was when I first arrived in the middle of winter. And it was really good to be with my parents, who, admittedly, I had missed.
I meant to write this earlier, but exam study has been consuming me. As of today though, the most difficult exam is out of the way. Stay tuned for the next entry, soon to follow, about my trip with Mum and Dad to Poland.