So, here we are. FINALLY. At Part 3. The last trip I have been on so far. Wow. I really should keep more up to date with these sorts of things. Well, shall we dive right in then?
1. Portobello Market, for sure. I have known and dreamt about this place since I was a little girl when my mom and I would watch Bedknobs & Broomsticks together. Can’t you just picture it?! It was a sunny and beautiful day! I distinctly remember sitting down on the street to soak up the sunshine. God Bless Springtime! The market was HUGE and bustling from end to end with families, cute couples, friends and even the rare individual who appeared to be a regular…I mean how else could you be confident and cool enough to walk through that place solo?! The market had everything too. My favorite were the antique shops selling old tea cups and tea pots and the many crepe stalls! NOMZ. I only wish I lived there so I could buy all the cute things. Well, maybe it’s a good thing I was just visiting.
2. The Tea House Theatre. Just a quick tube ride to Vauxhall and a short walk through a park and badabingbadaboom..you’re there! It was quite possibly the cutest cafe I’ve ever been. My friend, Amber, who I was staying with/visiting in London wanted to take us there because she loved it so much! It is, as it’s name details, a cafe that specializes in teas and cute little scones, cakes and biscuits and also doubles as a theatre and community arts venue. Like a little piece of Boone (my university town) with me across the pond. I had the Cream Tea, which is regular black tea with delicious scones, cream and jam. UMMMMM. Drooling.
3. WICKED!! Yes, I got to see a “broadway” musical in London. And no, I don’t deserve it but I am super thankful! Amber gave us the tip to go to the ticket office at 8:30 in the morning and try to get the cheaper tickets that they had left. It was between Matilda and Wicked and we chose Wicked last-minute. No like really last-minute. The two theatres were at different stops on the tube and we were all debating whether to get off at Matilda or keep riding to Wicked even as the doors opened and closed. I remember that moment being very funny and nerve-wracking as we stared at one another anxiously! I definitely think we made the right choice though. We were first in line and got front row seats! I mean I could legitimately see the actor’s/actresses’ spit when they sang. And, I mean, there was nothing quite like the full-body chills I got when she started singing “Defying Gravity.” Lord, have mercy!
4. Kensington Palace/Gardens. Now, for those of you who don’t know this already, I have a SERIOUS obsession with Queen Victoria. I don’t really talk about it much but inside I am teeming with love for her and her story. I did my senior thesis project on her in high school and I grew to respect her so much as a woman and a queen. Plus her love story is SO adorable and rare for that time period and for someone of her position. We got to tour the palace (where many of the royals–including William, Kate and little George–still live) and walk through the rooms Victoria roamed as a little girl and eventually a young queen. I sat at her desk and stood at the head of the table where she gave her first address as Queen. EEP. HISTORY NERD ALERT. We also got to explore the Gardens that extended far around the palace. We spent a good hour looking for the statue of Peter Pan (one of my favorite childhood characters). They sure made that boy hard to find. One sign pointed one way while another pointed in a completely different one! But, that does kind of suit the story doesn’t it? Oh, also 65% sure we saw someone famous. It was a family of 4, two kids and two parents, all clad in matching fur coats walking with their arms around each other, laughing carelessly as I imagine famous people would. I think it might have been Flavor Flav. Who knows…
5. London at night! Wow! Walking along the South bank at night and getting to watch the sun go down over Parliament as the sparkling lights of Big Ben and the Eye began to reflect in the waters of the Thames was simply enchanting. London in daytime is, of course, beautiful but it seems that this city comes alive at night. I only wish I had more time to experience it and really soak it all up but alas there are only so many hours in a…night? Well, it’s true! And if you see everything, what would there be to look forward to exploring later in life (God-willing, of course!)
6. Camden Market. The punky-alternative side of London. It was HUGE! I felt like I had gone down the rabbit hole a little bit when we got here. It seemed that whenever we thought we had gotten to an end at a part of the market, you turned a corner and there was a whole new world! Not only was it fun because it was teeming with life and hundreds of people (most probably tourists) but also because it seemed to be overflowing with creativity and a unique edginess that couldn’t be found in central London. From the quirky food kiosk owners and the haggling vendors to the copious amounts of vintage/antique shops and leather-clad hoodlums, Camden was a blast and a half.
7. Sunday Morning! Okay, yes, Sunday mornings are always wonderful but this one was particularly fabulous. Amber and I got up earlier and went to the Flower Market on Columbia Road. Oops…another market. JUDGE ME. I love love love flowers–the colors, the smell, what they symbolize, their unique and intricate beauty–and finally getting to see them after the winter is such a blessing, like seeing water after wandering through a dessert for months. And boy, was I parched. Amber’s friends from Zimbabwe were also there with us, Emily & Gordon. They were so sweet and so in love. It made ME wanna be in love. *sigh* After the flower market, we headed to the church Amber has been going to. It reminded me a lot of my home church, The Heart. They spoke about the cross and why, even though it is a morbid symbol in many ways, it is so SO important to keep fixed upon it. It is the source of life, love and hope for all and that is not something to ponder idly now and then. It is something to hold in the center of everything we do all of the time. Now, that is not an easy task for us humans but that, my friends, is what His sweet grace is for. I am grateful for that reminder!
8. PLATFORM 9 3/4! Oh, yes. I got to pretend that I was lucky enough to get that sweet sweet letter when I was 12 years old. I still think there was some mistake. An owl went M.I.A. or something like that. It was so fun being able to be in King’s Cross, such a historic place, and jump like a blithering idiot as I took a pic with the buggy. I geeked out hard and I am not ashamed.
9. All the touristy things. Even though nearly every person does this when they come to London, I am not the least bit ashamed. On the first day we got to London, the girls and I walked around what felt like but surely wasn’t the whole city to see, as I said, all the touristy things. Those things being Big Ben, Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Kensington, Hyde Park, Westminster Abbey, The Eye, etc. It was beautiful & sunny out (which I was beyond thankful for) which made for a wonderful day to stroll around and take pics. We tried so hard to take a pic with a guard. I really wanted to crack a corny joke and made one of them smile but, alas, we did not get the chance. Maybe that’s a good thing, though. Now I can still think that I am funny enough to crack a palace guard without having to actually test the theory. An untarnished dream.
10. Hostel Bar. My friends from home will be surprised and probably delighted to know that this whole study abroad experience has made me way more comfortable with “going out” and meeting people that way. Oh yes, that’s right. I do that now. I am by no means a pro at making friends at bars/pubs/clubs/etc. but I am getting better, getting out of my comfort zone a little, and hostel bars are the perfect place to do it, I think. Most if not all of the people are quite young, very outgoing and all want to meet people from all over the world too (that’s why they’re there). We always seem to meet the most interesting and hilarious characters there and I hope it always stays that way! Oh and while we were there, we ran into a girl who is a friend of one of our friends in Edinburgh who is studying in Paris with her friend. SMALL WORLD. It was so fun to be able to hang out with them and get to know them a bit better! Now a few small letters: To the man who referred to my friends and I as Hobbits (or almost did until I realized that that was where the conversation was headed and cut you off), I know you meant it in a funny, making-fun-of-us kind of way, but I mean we saved Middle Earth sooo….go away. To Alfie, the sarcastic yet sweet boy from London, you were quite charming & fun to partake in witty banter with. Sorry I lost your number but I lose everything…I should have mentioned that.
11. Getting to reconnect with and be encouraged by my sweet friend! One of the things that I have truly felt the weight of being without is my community from back in Boone. Our sweet bib stud group that is always pouring into each other and filling each other up with joy and Jesus. But, when I visited Amber, she shared sweet words and reminders with me and my heart was eased. So thank you, Amber, for reminding me what I am on this earth to be and do with your words and your actions. Oh and, of course, you are a GODDESS for letting me crash on your floor. I love you!
Hey London, I had a blast with ya. Can we do it again some time? K thanks 🙂