The day started out very unproductive. I ended up not setting an alarm the night before and woke up with 15 minutes to get ready. I was lucky that Amy had gotten up to ask Austin for a band-aid, because since I heard her up, I knew I was really late. But besides that, we all got ready and got on the coach to London for the day.
Driving from Oxford to London was rather interesting because the area changed from crowded city to farm land, back to crowded city. When driving through the US, you might see that, but usually not all within an hour and a half. It was like traveling from Washington DC to New York City but going through Kansas on your way. It seemed strange, but I really liked it. All the fields and hills made me feel more at home.
Once at London, our first stop was to Buckingham Palace to see a ceremonial changing of the guard. (For those who do not know, that is when the guards who are posted outside the Queen of England’s house switch shifts with new guards.) There were tons of people there, most likely because it was the same day as the finale to the Paralympics. It was difficult to see, even for me who is tall, over the huge mass of people. But you could at least hear the band as they walked the guards around. There was a lot of military formalities that had to be done so the process took a good half hour. Although, not being able to see anything was worth it when the band began to play some of ABBA’s greatest hits. They blasted out “Dancing Queen”, “Mama Mia”, and a few others. A lot of the girls from my group sang along and it was great fun to think that Queen Elizabeth’s personal guards like to play hits from the 70’s.
Next we went by Westminster Abbey, although we did not go in. We did, however, go into the Westminster Cafe across the street. It was a cute little shop with made-to-order food and an art gallery in it’s basement. We stayed there and ate for a little bit before heading out again to look at some other tourist attractions.
We drove past the Tower of London, and drove over the London Bridge, while our faculty leader pointed out important landmarks and attractions around the city. We also drove through Bloomsbury in London which is where the hotel that I stayed at last time I was in London was located. It was not a very good hotel, so I won’t mention it’s name, but the area around it is very nice. Bloomsbury was a nice place when I stayed there and seemed pretty much the same as we drove past.
On the way back we were allowed to stop by a supermarket called Sainsbury’s. It is a very nice grocery store with almost anything you could want, but we were only given 20 minutes so we had to rush through for our most needed items. Austin and I ended up grabbing pillows, sheets, and some food for breakfast, and were the second people through the line. (Amy was first.) Our flat actually ended up being the first entire flat through the store, which I am rather proud of, personally.
We went home and unpacked our few groceries, and then headed to a nearby pub called The White Horse. It is about a ten minute walk but is a really nice place to eat or hang out. It has daily deals for customers and the food is not very expensive, not to mention tasty. They also have a large selection of drinks, from Coke-a-Cola to Rekorderlig and more (for those of you over 18 years old, anyways). The atmosphere was very chill and pleasant and I would highly suggest it to anyone who is in the area.
Afterwards, we just headed home for some sleep before our busy day visiting Oxford University.
“The more I traveled the more I realized that fear makes strangers of people who should be friends.” -Shirley MacLaine