The first day of the trip consisted of driving to Down House to see where Charles Darwin had lived. We had gone to the George and Dragon Inn where we stopped for lunch that I enjoyed as it was the first time I had a chicken and leek shepherd’s pie and finally got to try leek for the first time. We then looked at the cemetery where some of the Darwins were buried and then drove to Charles Darwins house where you could tell by the spacious landscape how important nature was for him. I liked the drive as it really displayed the landscape of smaller suburbs in London and gave a little bit of an idea of how it would feel to live there. After the tour, we then drove to the heart of London where I got to finally see famous buildings in person like the parliament building and Big Ben (kinda). Finally later that night, I left and found an Indian restaurant with Indian food that you will not find anywhere in America that was also very good and quite inexpensive.
For this day we first stopped at the British Museum that I enjoyed a lot as a lot of the artifacts were quite beautiful like the statues from Greece and the Museum itself was gorgeous as well. It was very interesting to see the Rosetta stone in person and real sarcophagi from Egypt as well. Later, I spent the day wandering around London just to admire the layout of the city more by also taking time to eat in a cafe and to go around and see the bridges and Trafalgar square. I additionally went to the National Museum and got to see a lot of beautiful paintings that night. Later that night I joined a group of people to eat at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant, which I was quite excited about because I have watched a lot of shows by Ramsay and really wanted to try dishes that he had created and was not disappointed.
For this day, I woke up and went to look at the bridges further down from our hotel and saw the London Bridge and then went on a tour of the really impressive Tower Bridge. I also got to go on a tour to see how the draw bridge of it actually works and got to walk along the top of it. I also got to ride a double decker bus which was more fun than I expected it to be. I then met up with some friends in Europe where we went exploring and found a bar where you had to enter through a bookshelf.
This day we had gone to Westminister Abbey which I was really happy about because I got to see where Isaac Newton and Stephen Hawkings were burried, two scientists who I admire greatly. I also like seeing the other famous people buried there from various writers to political figures. I additionally thought that much of the stonework and stained glass was beautiful to look at as well. Then we went to the London Eye and even though it was raining, I still thought it was a really nice view. After the group dinner we went to the Royal Society, which I thought the ancient books they showed were fascinating because of how long they have survived. In the afternoon, I tried to find a shop to buy some tea but then ended up lost and walked around and went to a lot of little stores. I then later joined for the group dinner at a different Indian restaurant and later spent the night roaming again where I went to Trafalgar square at night and wandered into places like Chinatown.
(London 5/Paris 1)
This day we went to the train station to go to Paris which made me a little sad because I didn’t want to leave London quite yet. Paris was completely different compared to England in layout and architecture and was actually nothing like I thought it would look or feel. Touring Notre Dame was incredible as just the sheer size of it combined with its stonework and stainglass was more beautiful than the pictures of it that I had seen online. Later that night I joined a group of people and we walked everywhere for sight seeing with first the Sacre Coeur then to the Arts district where we ate in a shop with a very talented piano player who sadly didn’t get tipped and then to the top of the Arc de Triumph for another pretty view of the city at night. We also saw the Eiffel tower at night and finally the Flame of Liberty.
This day we visited mainly museums where we first went to the Musée de Paleontology. My favorite part of the museum was seeing the whale skeletons which reminded me how massive they could be and impressed that creatures that size still exist. I later went to the zoo and saw animals that would not be thought of in America . Then I ate lunch at the Grand Mosque de Paris where I had the best tea in my life. Later I just explored the other various museums and also found some Banksy graffiti. That night I went to the group dinner in Au Pére Louis where I got to try stereotypical French food like snails.
Then on this day we went to the Eiffel tower and got to see a really nice view of the city. Then we went to see the Museé de l’Homme which I didn’t find that interesting due to the lack of actual artifacts there. Later we went to the Pasteur Institute where my favorite part was seeing Pasteur’s tomb. I also did think that the Musée des Arts et Metiers would have been more interesting if we were allowed to explore it by ourselves as there were a lot of interesting artifacts in there that the tour guide spent little to no time on. I also tried to go shopping later that night but didn’t have much luck as I didn’t realize how early stores closed in Paris. I did manage to go to eat at an outside patio places and then wandered around looking at the architecture for the remainder of the night.
On this free day I went to the Pantheon which I really like because of its interior and the fact that many famous people who lived in France were buried there. Next I went to the gardens nearby our hotel to explore a little. I later finally made it to the Lourve and got to see paintings and sculptures that I have read about and marveled at for such a long time. The rest of the night I did a lot of shopping that night from going into book stores to finding pastry shops and buying macrons.
The day started very early, but was full of some last day explorations. A group of us took a train to Versailles. Overall, Versailles was a beautiful place, but as far as the contents, I was not entertained too much. The murals on the ceilings were stunning, but there was not as much inside of the château besides typical furnishings. However, this was a fun trip with the group that went! After leaving here, I ventured back to the hotel and stopped at some places to grab gifts for people. I got some newspapers for my grandpa and cigars for my dad (which later turned out to be Cuban cigars.. so yeah, now I am a smuggler of cigars). I also found a stand that was full of old cameras, where I purchased a 1940s French camera for my mom. When I dropped all of the items back at the hotel, I decided to go to a Van Gough exhibit that I had been told about. I travelled a decent distance, an once I walked out of the metro it was very apparent that I was no longer in a touristy part of town. There were a lot of green spaces and multiple parks, so it was gorgeous and an active place to live with a family. I walked to the exhibit to see that it was sold out. I stood there for a little while, just smiling and using what French I had, and eventually they let me in to purchase a ticket. I immediately saw why the exhibit is so popular! I walked into a room that had screens over all of the walls, and as I looked around, it was like watching paintings coming to life. They had multiple videos, but the Van Gogh one was the most popular and the most intriguing one. I sat down and took in the panoramic view of the movie version of the well-known paintings. This was the best part of Paris for me. I didn’t know about this exhibit until a friend from home saw it on Facebook and told me I should try to go visit. Paris was difficult for me because I have a hard time looking at flat paintings on a wall, but this exhibit gave me a 3D version that moved and came to life. I made my way back to the hotel and went to dinner with Jess. The last meal in Paris was amazing, but going back to the hotel was definitely not. Walking back to the hotel one last time was sad, but knowing I got to experience Paris wad an amazing feeling.
Waking up today was easier since I knew I was going to be going up on the Eiffel Tower. Even though we only got to go to the second level, the view was unbelievable. This was a moment that I kind of forgot that I was in Paris and on the Eiffel Tower, I just was in the moment. After leaving the Eiffel Tower, we walked toward Musée de L’Homme. Once we got there and promised Dr.Cogan we would actually go in the museum after our photo shoot, we took in the view of the Eiffel Tower. Once we went in the museum, we got to explore. This was my favorite museum in Paris, because it was very abstract and had a lot of interesting exhibits. When we left there, we all travelled to the Pasteur Institute. It was amazing to be in a room with all of the items that Pasteur had used to make all of his historic discoveries. From here, we went to the Musée des Arts and Métiers. This museum was not one of my favorites, because I feel like I didn’t get to as much of it as I would have liked to. I do think a lot of the pieces they had were very unique, though. After this very long day, I went to the hotel and decided to get dinner close to the hotel. I had duck for the first time, and did some souvenir shopping.
Today we traveled to Jardin des Plantes as a group! We were able to explore around the multiple exhibits in all of the buildings on the grounds (I enjoyed the minerals building the best). After we spent time here, a group of us headed to the Lourve. I was shocked at how large the Lourve truly is, and honestly was overwhelmed. Of course, I got a picture with the Mona Lisa, and walked around to see some of the other well-known pieces. When we left, we went to Musée d’Orsay, to get pictures with the large clock. While my group decided to go to a nearby mall, I went to see some other interesting places. First, I took the metro to a village that has an umbrella sky display, which was nice considering that it had been sprinkling all day. Then, I made my way to the Picasso museum. This museum was one of my favorites, because they had more abstract pieces, and a lot of information to read in regards to the work displayed. I went back to the hotel, and made plans to have dinner. When I heard there was an amazing view of the city from the little town we were going to eat in, I never imagined the amount of steps it was going to require me to climb! All of the steps were worth it, though! At night, I could see the Eiffel Tower glowing and see so much of the city! When we went to dinner, I had snail and pizza (a great mix, I know). We left dinner, in hopes to go see the Eiffel Tower up close.. and 2 hours later we did! This was the night I learned that I liked the London Underground WAY more than the Paris metro. But we made it, and it was worth it!
Today we left London to travel to Paris. After making our final trip in the London Underground, we arrived at the station to take the Eurostar train. During the train ride, I edited a short GoPro video. Once we arrived in Paris, we took the metro to the hotel and left the hotel for Notre Dame. The cathedral was amazing, as I expected! We took a different path back to the hotel, so that we could see all of the shops and other sites. We made it back with enough time to relax before heading out to a group dinner. We ate at Le Petit Prince, and were able to think about other things we wanted to see around Paris!
This morning was a cloudy and rainy. We left the hotel with our Blue Badge tour guide and headed to Westminster Abbey. The outside was stunning, and the inside was just as pretty as I imagined. All of the small details filled the space in a way that can’t even be described. It is incredible to think about all of the work that got put into making such a beautiful place to keep as a memorial to such important people. Once we left Westminster, we walked toward the London Eye. Riding the London Eye, even with the rain, was a great time! Of course a ton of pictures were taken, and I was able to make another comparison picture from previous travels. We got lunch at a small Mediterranean restaurant. Then, we took a short walk over to the Royal Society. The Royal Society tour was interesting because we got to see books that date back so far, but are still in pristine condition. Once the tour ended, a small group went to see Buckingham Palace, where I got another comparison picture. After some time to refresh at the hotel, we headed out to a group dinner. I ate at the Indian restaurant, and had a good time talking with everyone. I left to go see Matilda The Musical after eating! This show was amazing, and even better than I was expecting!
Our free day started very early, but it was totally worth it. Jess and I met Emily, Jenna and Alicia before heading out to catch a bus. From here, we were a train ride, another bus, and then another short bus away from seeing Stonehenge. The trip itself was fun, because it was my first time on a train, and I even got to learn about the history of Salisbury, where Stonehenge is located. This was one of the coldest days, because the wind was extreme. Stonehenge was spectacular, and now I am able to say that I have seen one of the seven wonders of the world. After coming back, we decided to go toward Borough Market. I noticed that the Old Operating Theatre Museum that I wanted to visit was only a street over. I went to the museum and got to explore the old artifacts they had, and then listen in on a presentation that was being done in the actual operating room. This was such a fascinating museum, and I was glad to get more inspiration for my paradigm shift. After leaving the museum, I walked toward the Tower Bridge. I took a couple pictures to compare them with pictures that had been taken 4 years prior. After this, I made my way back to the hotel. I went out a little later a found a donut shop, which I then followed up with an order of fish and chips!
Today, we woke up and ate breakfast at the hotel. We left the hotel and took a short walk around the neighborhood to see some blue plaques on some sites. Next, we arrived at the British Museum. I walked around to saw some interesting artifacts, before seeing the famous Rosetta Stone. After doing some more exploring, I found some amazing old medical instruments. Once we left the museum, a smaller group broke off to go to Camden Market! Here, we found some amazing food, and some little shops that had a lot of handmade goods. After finishing my one of a kind bowl of cereal at the Cereal Killer Café, our group walked to the London Zoo. I’ll be honest… At first, I didn’t think that going to the zoo was going to be all that amazing, but I was surprised. Visiting the zoo was a fun experience, especially because I got to stand where a scene for Harry Potter was filmed. We headed back to the hotel before a group of girls went to eat at the Gordon Ramsey Bread Street Kitchen restaurant. This dinner was a great way to get to know some of the girls better, and make plans for the night! I want to personally thank Amanda for letting me borrow her boots so I could go to Ballie Ballerson, the ball pit night club, without having to go back to the hotel first. I ended the night feeling like a champion, since I won a race in the ball pit (which only left me with a couple bruises).
We arrived in London today and got off to a wonderful start! As soon as we landed, we got ready for the day and made our way to Downe. In Downe, we first stopped by the little pub “George and Dragon.” This is where I had my fist official serving of fish and chips during the trip! After eating, we walked across the road to see the church with the graveyard where Charles Darwin’s wife is buried. Here, we climbed a tree and got out first group picture of the trip. We walked along the road until we made our way to Down House. Visiting the home of Charles Darwin was very interesting. I made my way through the house, and then out to the gardens. It was amazing to think that a man who made such large leaps for science worked in the same place I was visiting. I was able to take a picture in the same place a portrait of Darwin was taken, too! After leaving here, we made our way into town and our guide explained some fun things about London along the way. Once we made it to the hotel, Jess and I put our things in out room before we headed out to get some dinner! We walked to The Rising Sun, had some dinner, and then got gelato afterwards before heading back to the hotel.
Kelly and I were supposed to go to Versailles with a group of others but we slept through it (we were sleepy gals). We eventually got up, shopped around a bit, then I spent some time packing. I went to a little cafe by Pantheon, and stayed there writing in my journal for so long they actually asked me to leave (I’m embarrassed). I didn’t do a ton on my free day, which part of me regrets. The other part of me understands that I was very tired and also sometimes less is more. I guess I’ll just have to go back sometime.