First Stop: London


The first part of the trip found our group meeting in London. I left the airport with one of the later groups of other students flying in from the airport. We were able to navigate The Tube fairly well to the station that our hotel was closest to, but we did get lost in route to the hotel though with a quick gps check. After checking in to the hotel, we headed to Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and had dinner at this little restaurant that is like a quick Panera called Pret-a-Manger.

We started our first full day by going to the Churchill War Rooms. We had an audio guided tour that went through all of Churchill’s life and accomplishments as well as having replicas of his rooms. Afterwards, I walked around St. James Park and was truly astounded by the size and amount of birds that are around the park. I then had lunch with a few classmates on the Thames where I had my first encounter with the restaurant culture in Europe. I like that at most restaurants, they give the table a pitcher of water rather than just filling the individual glasses. Even though I had been warned about the time restaurants took in Europe, I was still surprised by how long restaurants took. I don’t think we spent less than 90 minutes at any restaurant. For dinner, we had a guest speaker talk to us about his experience in the Blitz. It was amazing to hear what he had to say as I have not hear
d any first hand accounts from this event in history.

For our free day in London, I went with some fellow students to the Tower of London and saw the crown jewels. The room was overwhelming full of understandably priceless artifacts. Being surrounded by these things I couldn’t help imaging myself being a part of the royal family and wearing some of the items. After the Tower of London, we went to the British Museum and saw the Rosetta ston
e and thousands of other brilliant ancient artifacts. While everything at this museum was very important and elaborate, I did find the museum to be a bit overwhelming and possibly too full of things. I met up with a friend from high school that was studying abroad in London for the whole semester. He showed me the more native side of London rather than the tourist areas. We went to a fast casual Mediterranean restaurant and went to a small lounge called the Piano Bar near the university inLondon.


The following day, our class traveled to Bletchley Park via train. The English countryside was very nice and full of sheep. Bletchley was a small area, much smaller than I imagined it would be for all that was done there. I found this to be one of the more interesting things that we did in England. We were able to see the areas in which many of the codebreakers were worked and deciphered enigma code. They also had replicas of the bombe machines that aided in the codebreaking. The mansion on the property was beautiful and I wish that more of it would have been open to view while we were there. I went to Kensington Palace afterwards which had fantastic gardens that were wonderfully picturesque. The palace itself was surrounded by a public park which I thought was odd, but it did give the feel that the royalty were a part of t
he people which is probably a good idea to portray to the people of England.

On our last day in London we saw the Imperial War Museum. They had a very good exhibit on World War I (WWI) but I felt that their World War II (WWII) exhibit was lacking. The WWI section was set up by time and went thoroughly the war. The WWII exhibit was spread all around the second floor and had no distinct start or end. It seemed to focus more on the weapons and machinery used during the war rather than the war itself. I went to Westminster Abbey after the museum and was truly in awe by how ornate the building was. There was so much detail in the Nave, on the ceilings, on every monument and memorial, it was truly incredible. I wish that pictures could have been taken here so that I could relive its beauty. I think that this was my favorite place that we visited. After the Abbey Westminster we traveled up and down the Thames to grab lunch and visit the Tate Modern Art Museum. I finished the day by going on a Jack the Ripper walking tour of London. It explored the eastern side of London in the White Chapel area rather than the areas we had already seen. It was quite an interesting tour full of dramatics. The information given was very intriguing but also kind of creepy. It was weird to see buildings that were the same ones standing as in the late 1800s and to know that a notorious mass murdered had been in them. After tubing back to our hotel area we picked up a late dinner and headed to bed to get ready for our early morning.

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