As I sit in the comfort of my friends’ family’s home sipping English tea, I reflect on our two day adventure to London. Her family lives about a 50 minute train ride out to the city, so we stayed at her family friends’ flat in the middle of the city for a night. We arrived to London at about 1:33 PM and eventually found our way to the flat. After freshening up and saying hello we were off to explore. Our first destination was Oxford Street. It is well known for shopping. I’ll tell you one thing, London fashion is high. It is very hard to walk into these stores and try to not buy anything. I could only dream of taking a shopping trip here.
Our next destination was an underground restaurant where we met her family friends for dinner. It was once a Baroque American hotel that turned the ball room into a French restaurant. All of the wait staff were required to know or learn French in order to give you the full effect. It was pretty cool.
After that we took a Double Decker bus back to Baker Street where the flat is at and went into a hole in the wall pub. I always like to try to put myself into local places to get a full experience of the culture. In this case it was a pub. There was a big group of people who were clearly drunk and very loud. Much like groups of people you might find at a bar in the US. American music was also playing in the background, however, it was not nearly as loud as the music is in the US. Overall the atmosphere of the pub was light and happy and fun with dim lights and lots of laughter and chatting. As I looked around to try to mimic the actions of the locals and blend in more, I couldn’t help but to notice one major difference. Absolutely no one at the pub was on their cell phone. Except for the two people I was with. I instantly felt embarrassed. I realize it is a very “younger generation” thing to be on our phones, but I also think it is extra American to be on our phones in a social setting. It was quite refreshing to see this. When I went up to a stool-less bar to order a drink, the bartender let me try all of their “classic English beers.” The beers are very easy to drink, pretty light, and served in exceptionally large glasses. I had a conversation with a guy who came up to the bar to place another order and we instantly got into the conversation of US politics after I told him where I was from. I thought that was pretty funny. Turns out Europeans are fascinated with the presidential election.
The second day we got a classic English breakfast and toured the Buckingham Palace, saw Big Ben and the London Eye, and ate Fish and Chips for dinner. I would suggest allocating at least 3 days to be able to see all there is to see in London. Unfortunately we were unable to fit seeing the new architecture London has to offer in our tight schedule, as well as many of the other tourist attractions. I’ve also learned the valuable lesson of not sleeping in while you are traveling. It wastes a lot of your time to explore.