Hiya! (Side note: I never actually say “hiya,” but apparently they say it a lot in England, so just roll with me here.) Welcome back to Wandering on Cloud Nine! I’m so excited for the new year! Hope everyone’s holidays were bright and festive!
In case you didn’t know, I went to England this summer, before my trip to Italy (which you can read about here). Visiting England has been on my bucket list since I was 10, so when I found out I was going I was super excited. England was a real “smash” (another English term) and I absolutely loved it! There is an old, but modern charm to London. A lot of the houses are made of bricks, which we barely see in the bay. It was awesome to walk the streets and admire the beautiful architecture. My cousin was still living in England at the time, so I had a personal tour guide as we went around together! I hadn’t seen my cousin for about a year, so it was so nice to hang out with her. Also, I was so happy that it was not super gloomy during my trip. London is known for its rainy weather, so it was nice to see all the landmarks in the sun. The day I left London for Italy, it was raining super hard and I almost got sick from having to walk in the rain without proper gear. I guess this was England’s way of telling me not to leave, but hopefully I’ll be able to go back to England for a longer time!
- Buckingham Palace
First off, sadly, I did not meet the queen. Second, I did not meet the Queen’s corgis (I absolutely adore corgis). Buckingham Palace was super enormous. The palace gates were actually 3x my height, which is crazy. There is a special time in the day where they change the Queen’s guards (also known as the Changing of the Guard). I wasn’t able to see it, but there’s always a next time! We went to Buckingham Palace around golden hour (also known as the hour before sunset), so the gold detailing on the tops of the gates were extra golden. Across the actual Palace, there is a podium with a golden statue on it, which was absolutely beautiful. Behind the statue, you can see the London Eye. When I first saw it, I was in awe because whenever I think of London, I think of Big Ben and the London Eye. I recommend going here during golden hour because the lighting is gorgeous and there are usually less tourists.
- The Underground
I know what you are all thinking; is the Underground actually a landmark? The answer is I’m not that sure, but it was super memorable to me because it was so cool. In case you’re wondering, it’s way better than BART because there are more seats, it’s cleaner, and the color of the actual trains is bright and colorful. Honestly, I could go on and on about the Underground. We got these clipper cards (also known as oyster cards) and even the light blue color made me happy. If there are no more seats on the train, then there are these cushions that you can lean on against the wall so you won’t feel uncomfortable. Overall, if you want a cheap way around the city, just use the Underground because it’s super convenient. Beware of the different trains though, because it can get confusing with all the different lines. If you space out, you can end up in places that are two hours away from where you intended to go.
- London Eye
This is of course an obvious one: the London Eye! It may look like a normal ferris wheel, but it has the most amazing views from the top. It overlooks the city and really gives you a great angle of the Parliament and Big Ben. I was able to go on the ferris wheel, and I was totally excited. I recommend buying the tickets online beforehand, because the lines for buying tickets were super long. Being inside the actual cart was so scary. I had no idea that the ferris wheel does not stop for anyone to get on, so you have to be quick. Once I was inside, the view was breathtaking. I was able to see everything for kilometers (not unlike miles) around! The first thing I noticed were the different bridges that cross the River Thames, like the London Bridge, Tower Bridge, Millennium Bridge, and the Westminster Bridge. I never knew that there were so many bridges in that specific area. When we got to the top, I was in awe, but also scared because it felt like our cart could fall down at any second. If you’re afraid of heights, you might get dizzy on here, but the view was definitely worth my worries!
- Big Ben/Parliament
Big Ben is what everyone associates England with, so of course, I had to go! I spent the least amount of time there because we were meeting my mom’s friend in front of the London Eye, which is across the river from Big Ben. At first, I couldn’t believe that the famous landmark was right in front of me. It’s been my dream to see it for so long and I finally got to see it! I couldn’t believe how tall it was, it was larger than I expected. I recommend finding a red telephone booth nearby, so you can take pictures with both the booth and Big Ben. I did that and my pictures turned out amazing! The building itself was so breathtaking. I seriously can’t wait to go back!