Things I’ll Miss About London:
- The History. Everywhere you look in this remarkable city, every building, every street, has a story and a past. Our cities and towns in America are infants in comparison to a city that has lived for over 2000 years. When we went to the Museum of London, we saw walls that were original to the Romans, still standing after so many centuries. While on our East End Art Tour, we passed by a church that had been Protestant, Catholic, a Synagogue, and a Mosque in its lifetime of almost five hundred years. America has its ancient past, in the forms of Native American burial sites etc., but London has been a full blown city for all that time. That is something we don’t have and I will miss being surrounded by a city so vibrant with life and rich in its history.
- The Tube. The underground subway system has been the easiest, most convenient form of transportation I’ve ever used. London is tightly packed, and the driving in the city is crazy. Red double decker buses whip around corners, their sides heaving over the sidewalks, threatening to clip people waiting at the corners to cross. While the tube can be busy during rush hour times, it is fast and easy. A train arrives at the platform every minute and departs within ten to twelve seconds, just enough time to squeeze through the doors. My London A to Z guide helped navigate which lines to get on and where to switch. After a time, it became easy to remember where to go. I wish Winona’s shuttle service arrived every minute!
- The Markets. Some of my absolute favorite days were those we spent wandering markets. Each one had a different feel and had different items to offer. My favorite was probably the Spitalfields or Borough Market. The Spitalfields Market was in a covered building in the East End, and the stalls were surrounded by unique boutiques and cafes. Borough Market lay beneath the shadow of Southwark Cathedral, close to Shakespeare’s Globe and the Thames. These markets are not only great places to shop, but to people watch. There are so many interesting people in London that we do not see in Winona, people with all pink or green hair and true punk rockers.
Things I Won’t Miss About London:
- The Crowds. London is still a city of 8 million people, and then there are the tourists. Whether walking around the city, on the tube, or in the markets, there are crowds everywhere. And while there are strict rules of standing on the right on the escalators in the tube, it’s everyone for themselves on the streets. People dart in front of you and walk right at you, until they or you swerve at the last second. In these times I hold my purse close to my body and just try to get to where I need to be. We went to the Brixton Splash Festival to experience some local London festivities and were completely overwhelmed by the crowds. I won’t be missing getting bumped in to every day.
- The Expensiveness. While I do like the city, London is expensive. Not only is the exchange rate quite high – 100 U.S. dollars becoming about 63 pounds – but the city is expensive. Many of the restaurants and cafes we went to were way overpriced. We went to a Five Guys for lunch one day, and while a regular Five Guys burger at home is about $5-6, this cheeseburger was £8. So it was two denominations more, not including the exchange rate! So I paid a little over $12 for a $6 burger. Ouch! I definitely won’t miss the London prices.
- The Hostel. This goes along really well with the expensiveness of London. Since London is so expensive, it is really hard to find affordable lodging, especially since we stayed for almost three weeks. The hostel was simply a place to sleep. This hostel has about 650 beds, so there is no privacy anywhere. We had ten girls in our room with barely enough room for our suitcases, but thankfully we didn’t kill each other! The accommodations were fine, we had free toast for breakfast and free internet in the media rooms and café area, but after three weeks, we are all just really tired of living practically on top of each other. We made it work though.
London has really captured my heart and I have so many fond memories and friendships to take away from this amazing trip. I am so thankful to Dr. Kohn for putting this trip together and I’m thankful for all the people that went on the trip. They are the reason that the “Things I Won’t Miss About London” were not so bad. I am happy to be going home, but also sad to leave this wonderful place and these fantastic people. Thank you all for following along with us on our adventures!