Otherwise known as Stories from Study Abroad: Dorks in London — the Extended Edition, or “Hanna and Connor adventure in London and then miss their flight back to Dublin.”
Ah well, we had a good time. I’m always saying that the Extended Editions are the best ones… I suppose it’s time I took my own tastes into account for travel. In any case, moving on!
As it happens, Hanna and I are currently stranded in London. We missed our flight by one. freaking. min — nope, nope. I’m not going to go there yet; it’s making me wince just thinking about it.
On the bright side, this trip has been amazing and the friends we’re staying with are absolutely marvelous human beings of incredible understanding and are, to put it shortly, awesome. Also, we’ve succeeded in our mission to be as dorky as humanly possible. Now we’re just going to be able to take that a bit further!
Plus, as Basia always reminds me, It’s not an adventure if everything goes right.
Basically put, London is amazing. You can trust me because I’ve been here for three full days. That makes me an expert, right? Yeah! Totally! The goal of the trip, as stated, was to be as dorky as possible and maximize the amount of fun per day spent in the city. Mission Status: Complete, with follow-up planned due to travel delays.
There’s something very innocent about this trip. I keep contrasting it to my time in Germany: where my time in Berlin (and even, really, some of my time in the Netherlands) was all about thinking through the struggles of this world and the impact of conflict, this trip is all about having fun. London has some great history, true, but while I didn’t know much about Berlin before I showed up within the city limits — well, let’s be real. We all know that BBC is my television network of choice. Sometimes being an Anglophile has its benefits.
There’s also the fact that London doesn’t have quite so devastating a history as Berlin (e.g. wasn’t completely destroyed in World War II and subsequently under communist rule for decades). Dozens of delightful things I’ve read and watched take place there. I’m sure you’re also aware that Brit Lit is the best lit.
Okay, not best, perhaps, but my favorite. Dorothy Sayers, anyone? P.G. Wodehouse? Tolkien and Lewis and J. K. Rowling? Jane Austen?! — well, anyway, a lot of my favorite works of fiction have taken place here. The names are as familiar as my favorite childhood memories: Picadilly Circus, London Bridge, Oxford Street, the Globe Theatre, Covent Garden, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, King’s Cross, Baker Street, Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace — I’ve grown up with these names.
So has Hanna, which is what makes this trip so perfectly delightful. We kind of flail about things to each other — I’M NOT FREAKING OUT, YOU’RE FREAKING OUT! — and then just jump on the tube to shoot over to the next place we want to see. Putting sights to these names, places I’ve wanted to see since I was first starting to read — well, now. That’s just been incredible.
See? Incredible. And let’s not even talk about Westminster Abbey.
Despite having only been here for three days, we saw just about everything (except for No. 10 Downing Street, which will be on the agenda for our suddenly extended trip!). Not even kidding. If you want to do London in 3 days, it is possible. I don’t know that I’d recommend it for many people — it’s sort of like what Lis and I did in Edinburgh. As possible as it may be, your feet will hurt and you will be exhausted. Totally worth it, of course. And seriously — you name it, we’ve seen it.
Day 1: Liverpool Station, the Gherkin, Museum of London, St. Paul’s, Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, Tottenham Court Road, King’s Cross (and, as already pictured, Platform 9 3/4), 221B Baker Street, Covent Garden, the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special. Yes, that does count. Shush.
Day 2: The British Museum (yes, all of it), the Tower of London, London Bridge, Southwark Cathedral, City Hall, the Globe Theatre, Millennium Bridge, Buckingham Palace.
Day 3: the Harry Potter studio tour, Big Ben & the Buildings of Parliament, the London Eye, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Picadilly Circus, Regent Street, Oxford Circle.
Geeky we may be, but we certainly know how to have fun. I got to see the place I grew up reading about, Hanna got to examine a whole bunch of bones and tell me all about the people they belonged to (the perks of traveling with a paleoanthropology student!), like where they had arthritis and if they were male or female and if they were right or left handed and what might have caused their deaths. She’s quite impressive when she wants to be, this friend of mine.
Plus, you know. We got to see all the places that are in Doctor Who, or Sherlock, or mentioned in Harry Potter.
Also, Mary Poppins. The amount of times I find myself singing Early each day to the steps of St. Paul’s, the little old bird woman comes… is actually getting a little ridiculous.
Other than whistling Mary Poppins, Simon & Garfunkel, Mumford & Sons, and God Save the Queen, favorite dork moments include:
01. Food. Yum. Extra delicious because, having been awake since 4 AM for our flight, we. were. so. hungry.
Just look at that egg & bacon sandwich! Yummmmm.
02. Freaking out about sign language interpretation AND subtitles for the video in the Museum of London! Come now, States. Catch up, please. Language access is important, okay.
And yes. I did freak out about this. In fact, I jumped up and down. I know. How absolutely ridiculous of me! Ah well, I’m well aware that I’m a bit obsessed with the whole sign languages/Deaf culture thing. Tell me something I don’t know.
03. Tea tasting at Twining’s (because why not)
04. King’s Cross — because Platform 9 3/4 has been part of my life since I was nine years old. That’s a long time, folks! Also, trains. I love trains.
05. the Tube! Much like New York, some of the stations are awesome and beautiful and some are — well, you know, not. Plus, public transport is always a wonderful thing, and Dublin doesn’t really have a proper subway/train system (it’s not really big enough to need one & the buses work well enough for it).
06. London by night. Flag’s up — Queen’s home!
07. London by day!
08. Harry Potter.
Partially because it’s Harry Potter, which remains one of my favorite book series, partially because it’s behind the scenes! I love behind the scenes things. This is kinda what happens if you ever do any technical theatre work, ever. Now make that all through high school and two summers working with Mary Ellen at camp. I love learning how things work, seeing the details that you can’t notice on screen — all of it.
And, you know, Harry. Potter. There’s something about a story all about growing up and friendship and good vs. evil that is, quite frankly, marvelous — especially when, as you’re reading it, you’re the same age as the characters.
(which is so super sweet I’ll probably never try to drink it again, to be honest)
09. Christmas in London. I love Christmas for many reasons. Christmas Lights are just the icing on the cake.
also, Christmas at Hogwarts.
10. This is more of a lowlight: missing our flight. It wasn’t even our fault, I swear. We left with plenty of time to catch our bus & get to the airport! Alas. There was an accident somewhere in city centre, so our bus was quite delayed. We decided to try the train… but then that was delayed, so we ended up getting to the airport when our flight should have left. We checked — it was delayed, slotted to leave at 9:40. Okay, we can do this!
Then we got stuck behind six people who did not know how to go through security at an airport — you know, having large containers of liquids, not taking shoes off, etc. Hanna was pulled for a random spot search, her stuff was put to the side, my liquids were chosen for a spot search…
… and we finished getting through security at 9:41.
Yeah. Ouch. Back to London for us.
So now we’re staying in London until tomorrow morning & then we’ll get back to Dublin.
I keep joking about studying abroad being less like school and more like vacation. I guess that’s even more true than I thought.
But we did see the Rosetta Stone! At least that’s educational, right?!