It’s hard to believe it’s already the weekend! I feel like so much has already happened and that I’ve been here forever; and yet at the same time it’s all gone by so quickly and now I only have two more weeks left to enjoy.
By now we’ve all broken up into our own little groups and pairings. I’m not sure what the rest of the group was up to this weekend, but I got to explore more of London with Faith and Felicity. On Saturday, Faith and I needed to give our wallets a rest so we went to the National Gallery. It’s right at Trafalgar Square, and let me tell you, it is just a bustle of activity on the weekends! For one, the world’s largest cycling festival was going on, so many of the roads were blocked off for cyclists. It looked like anyone could show up with a bike and start riding; maybe if I’d known in advance I would’ve rented a bike and experienced London from a different vantage point.
But hanging out in Trafalgar for lunch was exciting, too. There were So. Many. People! Up in front of the National Gallery there were several street performers and artists. From chalk painters to violinists, from levitating ghosts to Batman, there was just so much happening. I loved the atmosphere of it all.
Another Random Observation: There are so many different ethnicities here in London. Whether you’re walking through tourist hubs or in the “calmer” parts of town, you’ll hear myriad languages being spoken. It’s easy for me to identify German and Korean, and I’ve heard some Spanish and French, too. But there’s plenty more, and I think it’s beautiful.
So we went through the National Gallery, a massive museum of paintings. And when I say massive, I mean room after room after room… We started by stopping at each and every painting, but then quickly realized that would take forever, so we just wandered through and stopped at any that caught our eye. The rooms aren’t in any clear pattern or path, either, so I’m sure there’s some we missed.
We stopped by a souvenir shop afterward and then went back to the flat. We spent a couple hours just resting before meeting up with Felicity for dinner at a pub.
We’d passed by The Churchill Arms a few days ago and thought the flowers were cool enough to warrant a visit. When I went to a pub here with my family a few years ago, I didn’t drink. But this time, all three of us were determined to share our first pints with each other. We went with a light ale (Carling, I think the name was?) and it was… okay. I didn’t magically turn into a lover of beer, but the experience was still great.
We had to stand outside with our drinks for about an hour as we waited for a table. A couple of “regulars” tried chatting us up. One guy happened to be very awkward (“so do you like older men?”) but I noticed it was the norm to go up and chat with random people outside. The 3 of us all talked about what a great sense of neighborhood community pubs seemed to bring to a big city like London, and how different it is back home. Brits might be quiet on the tube, but give them a beer and they’re your new best friend.
Late that night we finally got back and I tried Facetiming my family. Only Emma was available, so about an hour of listening to her ramble and I was finally ready to sleep!
Sunday, today (because these pictures I’ve been trying to upload take forever so I’m falling behind) we began at church. Felicity found this little church called Trinity West not too far from us, so we spent some time there worshipping and reading Revelations. The pastor actually had a southern American accent, so that was funny.
After that, Faith took us to the other side of town to find this place she’d heard about called Cereal Killer Cafe. It took us a while to find it, but the searching was worth it!
Deciding which cereals I wanted was probably the most stressful decision I’ve made on this trip. You could mix any cereals you wanted, cererals from America and around the world, add flavored milk, put on a topping, and get some other sweet breakfast things like Pop Tarts. I ended up getting a “cocktail” of Lucky Charms, Frosted Cheerios, and almond milk, along with a hot chocolate topped with Lucky Charms and sprinkles. The seating area downstairs had lots of 80s and 90s memorabilia decorating the walls. It was such a cool place.
The street outside, Brick Lane, had a large street fair that we walked through. Tons of yummy smelling food booths, clothing stands, random trinkets, live music… we even heard a radio playing KPop (Faith and I are obsessed).
Between Brick Lane and the underground, there was also this cool shopping center called the Box Park. It was basically a row of these narrow little shops all covered by this storage unit -looking thing. They had shops like the Gap and Sunglasses Hut, but also more pop-up type shops with cool names like Swedish Hasbeens. Overall this whole area (Shoreditch/Tower Hamlets) was really cool. If you don’t mind walking down graffiti covered streets and mingling with hipsters, I’d recommend checking out this area.
It was still early in the afternoon, so we decided to check out another shopping center, the Westfield Mall. It’s massive with multiple floors, tons of outdoor restaurants, champagne bars in between the walkways, stores ranging from H&M to Gucci, and even a Tesla store with a car in it.
We went back to our flat, took a nap, did some grocery shopping, started some laundry, and now we’re chillin’ while wondering when it’s going to hit us that we’re in London! It don’t think we’ll fully realize it until we’re already home. In the meantime, we’re just taking one day at a time, enjoy every step we take around this city, and loving every second we spend here. Here’s to a great week past and more great weeks to come!