London By Myself & Meeting the Group
Updated: Apr 25
Yesterday, I spent the whole day walking around London by myself. The weather was not the best as it kept raining on and off (at some points the rain was pretty hard rain & it even hailed)! I woke up early in the morning and went to get my Italian phone unlocked at a shop on Oxford Street. They were able to do it for only £10 – much better than buying a new one for £50! Now, I can use my phone anywhere in the world with any carrier I want. This is good because instead of recharging my minutes when I’m in another country and paying money to roam AND to call the US, I can just buy a new sim card and not roam at all.
Then, I started my independent walking tour of London. I walked down to the Soho neighborhood (where all the artsy things are), then I walked down to the Covent Gardens (it reminded me of Quincy Market in Boston), then down the Strand which is the London version of Park Avenue. I arrived at Trafalgar Square which is a grand piazza with a clock counting down to the start of the London 2012 Olympics. It is a grand and beautiful square with a lot of people sitting and taking the views in.
A gazebo in Soho
British Museum in Trafalgar Square
Countdown Clock to the 2012 Olympics
Fountain in Trafalgar Square
Then, I walked down past the Horse Guards to Big Ben. After taking a few pictures, I crossed Westminster Bridge and went on the London Eye. I paid £15 because I was disabled. It was still pricey, but I enjoyed it. I was able to see everything in London with a birds eye view. Since it was raining off and on, I tried my best to time my ascent to when the sun came out. I shared my capsule with a few Italian tourists, so it was nice to practice my Italian a bit before I head to Rome. Apparently, my Italian is “benissimo” or “very good” – it was a good compliment to get my confidence up before I head to Italy!
The London Eye
Underneath the London Eye
Big Ben from the London Eye
Then, I walked down to Waterloo Station because it looked like it was going to pour. I almost made it, but was about a minute too late. I got a little wet and the hail was big, but I survived. I made it back to my hostel in about a half hour and relaxed for a bit.
After an hour, I left to go see the show, Blood Brothers. It was a very good show, probably one of the better shows I’ve seen, and had quite a bit of the British humor I enjoy quite a bit. The show was about a mother who had too many children and was going to have twins. She gave one of the babies to a woman who’s house she cleaned. The twins were never supposed to know each other and it should have been easy because the families socialized in different social circles, but they were drawn together by fate. It was a really good, but sad show.
After the show, I went back to my hostel and did laundry. I’m now all set for another week of traveling around Europe.
This morning, I checked out of my hostel and caught a cab to my Copthorne Tara Hotel where I will meet up with my graduation tour. The hotel is quite nice, but is in an alley off an alley which makes it very difficult to find. It is in a very good area, though. I would equate it to the Upper East Side. I walked around the area a bit, got very lost, and found my way back. Then, I was able to check into my room. My roommate was already there – he’s also from Penn State. Shortly thereafter, we met up with the whole tour group and they seem like they will be a lot of fun to travel with. We went on a small pub crawl to soak in the British atmosphere.
We ended our night at a pretty cool bar, Archangel, and met a band called Bastille. They told us that they were just signed by Virgin Records and they were about to make it big!
Note: This post was originally published on May 16, 2012 in a blog entitled “Romeing Around Europe…Again” which chronicled my post-graduation trip across Europe.