Celebrity guest blogger filling in here, Bridget! I’m Kelley’s older and much more mature sister that has been Kelley’s travel companion the last 8 days. As you may know, this was my first true travel experience outside of the United States and I was really excited to experience all that comes with being abroad. I didn’t take the opportunity to study abroad when I was in college so I knew I had to get my feet wet when Kelley decided to study abroad. Kelley told me I had to write about our ventures in London, so here’s goes nothing!
Kelley eluded to in her last post the “craziness” of getting into London. It was 5:00 pm. On a Thursday. In one of the largest rail/bus/underground stations in the city. It was nuts. So many trains, platforms, pigeons, buses, escalators, and did I mention, people? And they all knew where they were going and they were all walking at a brisk pace or running. Kelley and I were wearing 40 lb backpacks trying to keep up with rush hour traffic in a city and station we’d never been to. It was overwhelming. But true to their stereotype, the British kept calm and carried on.
We were beyond lucky to have gotten the London Underground (aka the Tube, the subway system used in London) right on the first try. Our hotel, The London City Hotel, was literally situated next to the Tube Station. We were so freaking lucky, no wild goose chases!….. Yet. For dinner, we walked up to a nearby market place called “The Borough Market” and immediately fell in love with this huge outdoor market in the middle of the city. In true Wollak tradition, we picked up some Chinese food to go (or “take away” as they say in Europe) and ate in the comfort of our hotel room. Exhausted from the blur of museums and rail stations, we made plans and bought tickets for the day ahead.
Friday morning we woke up and headed out to a northern suburb of London for the Warner Brothers Studio Tour — aka THE FREAKING HARRY POTTER TOUR. Like O-M-G. I was pretty excited for this, I had bought the tickets about 2 months in advanced and wouldn’t shut up about how excited I was the whole way there. Again, battling and learning the tube/train stations of London, we got an amazing tour of the Harry Potter studios. Kelley and I were geeking out hard. Really hard. Harry Potter has been one of my favorite books since I picked up the first one in third grade. I’ve read each book twice and been to every movie on opening day or opening weekend. Did I mention I’m a huge Harry Potter geek? Anyways, the whole tour was so well put together. The sets, the costumes, the props, the wigs, the special effects, an amazing scaled down version of Hogwarts it was so much to take in. Kelley and I got our butterbeers (a non-alcoholic drink that characters in the Harry Potter books often drank) got a few pictures and we went back into the heart of the city of London.
We saw Big Ben, the London Eye, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, walked up the Mall, strolled by Buckingham Palace, and relaxed in Hyde Park. So much significance in all of the places we saw. Couldn’t help but remember Diana’s funeral procession up The Mall, William and Kate’s wedding at Westminster Abbey, etc. It was surreal to be in these places! We had dinner and sipped pino grigio at a restaurant near our hotel before calling it a night and making more plans for the next day ahead.
Saturday, we set out for brunch and more sightseeing. As we had fallen in love with the Borough Market near our hotel, we stopped for brunch at a cafe and sat outside for people watching on a Saturday morning in London. We walked up and aroudn the busy streets of London and up to the Tower Bridge and then onto the Tower of London. It was a bit of an overwhelming tourist trap, but we enjoyed seeing these famous places and getting to learn a little bit of history. Kelley bought us tickets to the Tower of London where we spent the majority of our afternoon. We got a tour from a real Yeoman (guardsmen of the Tower) and got a peak at the Crown Jewels of the British monarchy. It was nearing 1 pm on a Saturday and it started getting a little crazy with all of the other tourists. We hiked up to St.Paul’s Cathedral and got sushi for lunch before retiring to our hotel room to recover. For dinner, we decided to head out to Picadilly Circus for dinner (think the Times Square of London) and got dinner at a “posh” restaurant in Soho. Kelley and I started to feel the tiredness of our trip on our bodies and here we are lounging in our hotel room the night before we depart. Tomorrow I’ll head back to Minneapolis and Kelley will stay in London another few days before reporting to Madrid for her study abroad program.
Kelley and I made mistakes, had some delicious food, got a little lost, took some great pictures, learned a lot of history, drank plenty of local beers/wines/ciders, got in little arguments, did dumb things, and laughed a lot. A lot a lot. I had tears in my eyes from laughing so hard and had good hard, belly laughs that made my abs hurt the next day. Traveling with your sister is the best, because you can piss each other off but you have to stick together and no one quite knows you like a sister does. She’ll tell you like it is, cover your back, make you laugh, and annoy the crap out of you. Wishing I could give you more and more details of our amazing trip, but I think you’ll have to stay up to date with Kelley’s blog to see what’s next. Tuesday I will be back in my cubical working the 9-to-5 and wishing I was wandering down some European road…. Cheers!
The Sister of Fiercely Freckled