Just kidding. Kinda.
Ashley and I boarded our plane to London full of Icelandic cheese yogurt and ready to explore somewhere new. Our plane was stupidly hot again, but we were able to watch an Icelandic cooking show the whole time so we were happy. I occasionally found myself doing that awful thing where you fall asleep and your head comes crashing down which jumps you awake, but we survived.
When we arrived in London we spent the next hour or so waiting to go through customs, buying tickets for the underground, and trying to navigate our way to Camden where my friend Eleni lives. Eleni is starting her masters at London School of Economics (shes super smart). She and I go way back to our Newburyport Clipper days, and I couldn’t have been more excited to see her at the Caledonian Road tube stop. She lead us back to her flat and fed us (she’s an angel) and we were able to climb into bed exhausted and happy.
Our first day in London was absolutely perfect. The sun was shining, the air was crisp, and everyone seemed to be in a great mood. We found our way back to the Tube, and planned our day of adventuring around Central London- seeing Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and more.
Buckingham Palace was beautiful. Like any attraction this big, the mobs of people made it hard to get a good picture, but I still wouldn’t mind moving in if the Royals decided they wanted a little American flair. It was hard not to wonder what the Royal Family might be doing inside, if they were there, and what it would be like to live somewhere so extravagant. Once we saw the ticket prices to go into Buckingham Palace, we remembered our lack of royal blood and moved on.
Next we decided to venture to Westminster Abbey. Have you ever seen the episode of Friends where they all fly to London for Ross’ wedding? Well I watched it on the plane and couldn’t help but feel the same excitement that Joey had walking up to this place. I would probably have even bought the hat if there had been one. Anyway, we decided to buy tickets into St Margaret’s church and, after convincing the girl at the door that we were all students in America and we should be charged the student price, were very glad we did. The church is filled with tombs, shrines, and other recognitions of royalty and people of importance in British History. It was fascinating to read the inscriptions dedicated to the memory of kings and queens and other heroic figures.
The outer hallways were just as beautiful as the church itself, and we walked around discussing whether or not this was how Harry Potter felt walking around Hogwarts.
We continued the day by walking past Parliament, Big Ben, and the London Eye. At this moment I am going to take a second and give a shout out to the girl who risked her life for the ultimate selfie. You can’t see it, but there are four lanes of traffic headed her way. I couldn’t help but take a picture of her to commemorate her insanity.
Thankfully Eleni has an international SIM card and she was able to look up places to eat near us. She stumbled upon a rating for a pub called The Golden Lion. It was a little bit of a walk but the reviews were good and we headed that way.
Funny story time: as we were walking we encountered a street performer who announced he was from Canada and juggled knives. He hilariously called people out in the crowd and threatened to embarrass them unless they participated and cheered him on. When he saw us he yelled “Come on beautiful ladies! Up to the rope!” Flattery goes a long way and we agreed to watch. To start the show, he wanted everyone to count to three and he would begin juggling. To demonstrate, he called out the names of different countries and then counted in their respective languages. When he got the U.S. he said “Any Americans in the crowd?!” We cheered loudly and clapped, expecting to see more Americans do the same. Well, we were the only ones. The performer pointed right at us and said “Just shoot your guns, babes!” and continued on with his show. America.
A guy on the street took a picture of me taking a picture of this, so I might be famous.
As we walked in the door of The Golden Lion, we heard British accents all around us. I was thrilled that we had found a place filled with locals. We were seated upstairs and greeted by Ben, our waiter. Ben was adorable, and seemed to love that we were American (although he could have just wanted an American tip). But let’s go with that he loved us. We ordered beers, and I ordered the fish and chips. I’m not sure if you know this or not, but I am sort of a fish and chip connoisseur. I had high hopes for this meal.
The food came out and I was so hungry at that point that really anything would have done, but it far exceeded my expectations. The fish was crunchy, the chips were crisp and salty, and the mushy peas were delicious. Yep. I said it. I love mushy peas and I don’t care who knows it. Ben said people either love them or hate them, but these mushy peas were light and minty and I thought they were the perfect side. I started #mushypeasforever on Instagram so feel free to use it.
After we had all cleaned our plates, Ben brought the Puddings menu, and we ordered the sticky toffee pudding. When in London, right? It was warm, sweet, and delicious. We ate it so fast I couldn’t take a picture, and Ben sent us a free round of espresso shots to finish the meal. All in all, this will be a hard one to top.
The rest of the night consisted of bar/pub hopping and adventuring an area of London called Islington and Angel. We met up with Lindsey, another high school friend living abroad, and got a feel for life here. I went to bed happy, full, and ready to see what else London had in store.
More to come on London later- for now, tea and planning the next adventure.
p.s. Blackcurrent anything is always a yes. #drinksintheair?