UK V: London calling

“I like the spirit of this great London which I feel around me.” — Charlotte Brontë

We take the train from Exeter to London, and it's more than exciting. I've had a love for trains ever since last summer, when they were my main source of transportation around Europe

London is everything and nothing like I'd expected. Sure, it has the classic bright red double decker buses; everything is like it came straight out of a postcard. 

But I didn't expect London to feel, in a strange sort of way, like home. It felt familiar to me, "like home" in the sense that I got the feeling I'd been there before. It reminded me of all the cities I've been to and loved, from Paris to Rome.

Something about the river passing through the city, dividing it and giving it life.

Something about the bustling crowds, the multitude of different languages being spoken, the presence of people my age.

My favorite way to spend the first day in a new city is to walk as much of it as I can. So we spend the first day wandering: walking down Oxford Street, accidentally stumbling upon an Indonesian festival in Trafalgar Square, strolling by the Thames, exploring Notting Hill...


The next day, I decide to "officially" orient myself with London by doing a walking tour. It wasn't too much new information, but our tour guide was lively and engaging (and happened to be a poison tester for the Queen!).

Besides, it was an opportunity to take more pictures of Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, etc.


The next days pass by too quickly. We ride the London Eye, climb to the top of St. Paul's Cathedral (the view here is better than the London Eye), eat all the goodies at Borough and Camden markets, do a Harry Potter walking tour, and visit the Tate Modern, the Chelsea Physic Garden, the Victoria and Albert Museum...


Sitting in the terminal at Heathrow, sipping on a carrot and ginger juice to combat my bloatedness from overeating Indian food the night before, it seems so unreal that my time in the UK is coming to an end.

It's bittersweet, really; there are so many things I wish I did and many things I wished I didn't do. I loved it, I hated it; I wanted to go home more times than I cared to admit, but I was also undeniably happy many times. 

If there's anything I learned, it's that traveling on a study abroad is very different than backpacking, and that you can't have the same expectations going into it.

Goodbye UK — the sun really does never set on the British empire.