My last stop during spring break was London. I'd been in love with the city from afar for years, but it was quite a different experience to actually be in London. I stayed in a hostel in Hyde Park until my parents arrived and thus my first experience of the city (besides an hour plus on the tube to get to Hyde Park from Heathrow) was Oxford Street. It's safe to say that I was a tiny bit overwhelmed. No, a lot overwhelmed. Compared to my experiences in America -- and even abroad before -- people in London just move at a quicker pace. They are constantly going, going, going and don't really care if you're standing in their way on the sidewalk. I was very glad I had booked a day trip to Manchester the day after I arrived because I needed some time to adjust to life in Britain.
I actually forgot to take any photos while I was in Manchester, but I loved it so much. It was much more manageable for me than London was on the first day and the city seemed to be much more what I had encountered in my travels previously -- smaller, more of a working / student town, and the ability to walk anywhere you needed or wanted to go (although I did still take buses around different parts.)
My time in London before my parents arrived was mostly spent shoe shopping, as I needed a new pair of black boots for walking. I ended up finding a pair at Selfridges, which I love dearly.
Once my parents did arrive, the first thing we did was make our way over to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guard. Unfortunately it was cancelled the day we went due to "extreme wet weather" which was... interesting as it had only rained a little bit that morning.
One of the places I enjoyed visiting the most was the Victoria and Albert Museum. My parents and I saw the exhibit on the history of Italian fashion, which was really fascinating and intriguing. I loved seeing the evolution of the styles.
One of my favorite things I ate in London was this tartine: it had goat cheese, prosciutto, asparagus, jam, and arugula.
I will say that -- without a doubt -- my favorite thing that we did in London was going to the last home game of Arsenal's season. The stadium is AMAZING and while the game itself wasn't fantastic, it was so wonderful just to be there in person instead of watching the game on a TV in Austin.
It was also a really special experience to share with my dad, as the only reason I support Arsenal is because he does and I've grown to love them so much over the years.
(Obviously we found the Thierry Henry statue!!!)
We did a whole lot more than I've talked about here, but I'm struck again by how I felt while we were in London. I love the experiences I had and the ability to see so many amazing cultural and historical places and landmarks, but I don't love London the way I've fallen in love with nearly every other city I visited in Europe. London and I are just on different wavelengths, we move at different speeds and have different modes of operation. I would go back to see more of the history and the culture in a heartbeat, as I know that in a week or so I barely scratched the surface, but I wouldn't go back for the city itself. Which makes me sad, as I've always had a special place for the city in my heart before I was actually there. I'm not sure if I would fall in love with it if I go again, now that I know more of what to expect and how the city works.
Maybe I'll give it another go someday.
Until next time, London.