Okay so on Christmas Eve, we caught the Eurostar in Paris to take the Chunnel to London. We had to go through security like in an airport (although not nearly as strict) and also border patrol before getting on the train. Just a warning: UK border patrol is the worst! When I went to London to visit my friend Logan, the guy gave me major attitude because I didn’t have Logan’s address. I offered to call him and get it and he was really rude to me. This time, border patrol wasn’t rude, but they do require you to fill out a form about how long you’re staying, where you’re staying (EXACT ADDRESS!), passport number, etc. No other country has made me do that, so be prepared!
The Chunnel was cool for what I saw of it… as I’ve mentioned, I have an extremely hard time staying awake on any form of transportation! I stayed up for awhile and then when it got dark (from going underground) I fell asleep basically until we got to London. When we got there, we took the tube (underground/Metro) to the stop closest to our hostel, then had a short walk there and found it no problem. We dropped our stuff in our room (only ones in it for that night! Yay!) then went to some nearby shops to buy some snacks for Christmas Day, since nearly everything was going to be closed; the bar under the hostel was serving breakfast and Christmas dinner but we wanted to make sure we had something to snack on for supper. Then we went to a nearby pizza place for dinner, which was delicious.
Since the tube was going to be closed all day on Christmas (and the next day…grr…I’ll get to that), we decided to buy unlimited tube tickets and ride around seeing sights, even though it was late! We knew we could sleep in the next day and I for one LOVE seeing places at night. However…and I’m really kicking myself for this…I didn’t bring my camera!! I left it in our room when we went to dinner, then we left straight from the restaurant, so I didn’t have it with me. So I have to make do with photos from my parents’ cameras and from my phone!
The first place we went is my favorite place in London: TOWER BRIDGE! On the way we saw London Bridge (big woop), the HMS Belfast (an old war ship that’s a museum now; it actually took part in the Normandy landings!!), the London Town Hall, and the Tower of London. Mom and Dad loved the Tower Bridge as much as I did!
We went ahead and walked across it, then came back. Another blurry pic from the walk across:
The next place we went was Big Ben/Houses of Parliament. It was so cool- we got off at the tube stop closest to Big Ben and the stairs up come up just FEET from the base of the tower. It’s super awe-inspiring to be that close to something you’ve seen in so many movies and pictures! Mom and Dad were as amazed as I was the first time I saw it.
We saw the London Eye too.
After we had looked at Big Ben long enough, we headed back down into the tube station, then I realized that Westminster Abbey was really close to where we were, so we went back up and saw it. There are plenty of pictures in my posts about London of Westminster, so here’s just one (the only one I have… haha).
We were going to go to Covent Garden or else Oxford Street and Regent Street, but we saw signs for a “Winter Wonderland” in Hyde Park so we got off, but didn’t find anything. We did see the Wellington Arch though, which I had never seen before:
After that, we were tiiiired and it was past 11 (tube closed at midnight) so we decided to head back to the hostel to sleep! We got a new roommate on Christmas morning, a college-aged girl from Colorado traveling alone. It was a relaxing, rainy day; we spent it hanging out in the “Chill Room” downstairs watching movies, meeting our fellow hostel stay-ers (is that a word?), and doing laundry. We enjoyed a delicious Christmas dinner at 1 and a “picnic” in our room later that night for dinner. Our roommate Ligia didn’t eat dinner at the bar so she and I headed out during the evening, and found a surprising number of restaurants and little shops nearby that were open! We also stopped by the doors of the closed tube station to use their WiFi, since the hostel WiFi wasn’t working for either of us. We were desperate, okay?!
The next day, we had the morning to sight-see; our flight to Germany left at 3. Mom, Dad, and Ligia headed out in the morning, only to find that the tube was completely closed down! We had seen signs for a strike but the signs said the trains would just be limited or some lines would be closed, not completely shut down, so that posed a problem for how we were going to get to Heathrow; we had planned on taking the tube there. We took one of those cool double-decker red buses, then got off and started walking.
We went to Oxford Street and Regent Street, which are known as “high streets,” or big shopping streets. Then we walked through Covent Garden, a little area with a bunch of little shops and lots of Christmas decorations.
Then we headed to Trafalgar Square, which I had never been to before. It has a big column with four big lions around it. Ligia and I walked around and took pictures together while my parents wandered off a bit.
Originally I wanted to climb up next to the lion for a picture, but the concrete was wet and slippery, so I gave up after my first try and just took a picture in front of it instead.
After Ligia took my picture, some kid came and scrambled right up the lion like it was nothing! That inspired me to try again: SUCCESS!
Next to Trafalgar Square was the National Gallery, which Ligia was planning on going to sometime. We could also see Big Ben from where we were! Then we walked to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guards at 11 am, only to see this sign:
We walked around and took a few pictures anyway. We also saw a group of officers on horses go by, so that was cool.
We then said goodbye to Ligia and headed to the Victoria train station, which wasn’t too far from Buckingham Palace. We had hoped to catch a coach bus from there to the airport, but there were all full, due to everyone taking the bus instead of the tube! We caught a taxi instead, and while it was expensive, we got to the airport in time! Success! On and on the way to Victoria we grabbed a pasty to share, which is a typical English snack. It was delicious!
We got to the airport in plenty of time and ate a good meal there. As we were eating our gate was announced, and it was the one closest to the restaurant where we were eating!! As my dad says… lucky things happen to me all the time 🙂 we had an uneventful flight to Hamburg, where we met up with our distant relative Peter. Then our Germany adventure started, but that’ll be the next post!