One of my BFFs from high school, Rachel, is currently studying abroad in Edinburgh, so of course I had to pay her a visit while I was in Europe! However, we both had never been to London before, so for the first leg of my UK trip we decided to explore London together.
We met up on the morning of November 9 and went to the office of Rob, a close friend of Rachel’s mom; he and his family so kindly agreed let us stay with them. After dropping off our luggage, he sent us off to go explore. I loved London immediately! Though it was a large, bustling city, I still found it to be very charming, what with every building looking historical (I feel like that’s the only way I know how to describe European cities), cute shops, double decker buses, red telephone booths, etc. One weird thing for me was that it felt strange to be speaking in English all of the time. I kept wanting to say “excusez-moi” and “merci” when weaving around crowds at the tube! However, I am definitely a fan of the British accent.
We stopped at a pub to eat fish and chips, and then walked around a huge shopping district. Afterward, Rachel and I went to see the Parliament building and Big Ben. They were actually very ornate and beautiful! Furthermore, the London Eye ferris wheel was in the background, making for a very iconic area.
Exhausted from walking so much, Rachel and I then stopped into a little café to relax over some fabulous tea and catch up on each other’s lives.
That night, we went to Rob’s beautiful home in a more quaint, residential neighborhood of London. We met his awesome wife, Sue, and their 16-year-old son Jake. They invited several of their South African friends over (Rob and Rachel’s mom are both from South Africa and became friends there), and we all had Shabbat dinner together! It was so lovely because we ate a giant feast that lasted for hours with such a lively group of people. Being in that warm environment and being taken cared of was definitely a welcome break from roughing it in hostels whilst traveling =).
The following day, Rachel and I met up with a British friend of hers, Matt, at the Royal Academy of Arts. We walked through a really cool bronze exhibition together. Afterward, to add to the classiness, we ate at McDonald’s for lunch. Actually, we bought food at McDonald’s and ate it on the street next to an establishment called “Table Dancing.” Matt was then our tour guide for the rest of the day, taking us to Old London. We went to a ginormous cathedral, and then crossed a bridge over the Thames in order to see the replica Globe Theater. The sun was setting right when we were at the bridge, creating a gorgeous orange sky.
We then went to the top of the Tate Museum on the other side of the bridge, which is a modern art museum in this very industrial, 1960s style building. The building itself was quite ugly, but on their top floor is a place at which one can have afternoon tea and scones- with glass walls and a panoramic view of the city!
Then (we did a lot of stuff that day!) Matt took Rachel and I to this Christmas market thing, at which we watched a comedian/magician guy swallow a balloon and make fun of Americans. A whole balloon! In that area, we ended up going to a Canadian bar, which was an interesting experience. One of the guys who was at dinner the previous night, Steven, met up with us there. Eventually, Matt had to leave to take a train back to his hometown, and Steven, Rachel, and I subsequently went clubbing.
We danced our booties off until the wee hours! Once we left the club, we were very hungry and went to… McDonald’s. It was mine and Rachel’s second time eating McDonald’s that day. This time, when eating it on the street, we didn’t even bother to stand- we just sat on the sidewalk. Clearly we like to eat in style.
Then, we rode a double-decker bus home!