So London was an incredible city. I dont know why, but I really had low expectations of it. It really wasn't on my list of things that i must do while in Europe during this semester, but seeing as it is so easy to get there from Belfast and I had a place to stay, I figured hey why not.
But my low expectations were blown out of the water. I loooved the city. I think I was always turned off my London because it didn't seem like it was much of a challenge. I always thought of it as big, commercial, English, predictable, and expensive. Lindsay and I decided to hit up London for Thanksgiving weekend a few weeks ago when Lauren and Christine (two girls we met on a pub crawl in Amsterdam) offered for us to crash on their floor. A weekend in London without paying for housing expenses? yes please!
So we were off! I was up at 4am on Thursday to make my 645 flight out of London. It was really easy to get to the tiny Belfast City Airport (flies around the UK), as the bus left every 20 minutes starting at 5am and was only 3 pounds roundtrip (awesome.). I passed out on the hour long flight, and I landed at Gatwick airport at about 8. I then took the National Express bus from Gatwick to Victoria Station in London. The trip from the airport to downtown on this bus is about an hour and a half. It's by far the longest method to get into downtown, but it is also by far the cheapest (about 14 pounds roundtrip i think?). Anyways, once I got to Victoria, I headed for the tube to meet Lindsay's train at St. Pancras station (where her train from Paris was arriving).
We met at the "meeting point statue"- a huge statue meant to symbolize the romanticism of traveling. cute london.
After a successful meet up, we now had to figure out where the heck we were gonna do and what we were gonna do. It was about noon at this point, and Christine was in classes until 5pm. We could've explored the town a bit, but Lindsay had a ton of luggage that prevented us from doing very much. We decided to head down to Camden town (where Christine and Lauren live) and stop in at any cafes along the way.
We ended up spending about 3 hours in this one place called the Eco Cafe. They served up a mean sweet potato with grilled veggies, which was the closest thing to a Thanksgiving-ish lunch that I could find. Before the Eco Cafe, we went to this other British restaurant called The Crescent which pretty much sucked. We split a cranberry and brie sandwich (again trying to find something thanksgivingy), but we were not satisfied. The Eco Cafe was a cool spot. It had free Wifi so Lindsay and I got on her netbook and watched a live stream of the Macys Day Parade all afternoon. We also skyped our fams to say happy holidays. The owner of the cafe thought we were nuts.
So 5 o'clock rolled around soon enough. We made our way over to the UCL dorm, that was right near the Camden Town Markets...a very cool area of London. After dropping our bags off in Christine's room and mingling for a bit, Lindsay and I headed to the grocery store to get all the necessities for a makeshift Thanksgiving feast. We had a very dirty/poorly supplied kitchen to work with, so we couldn't do anything too extravagant. We ended up with some sliced deli turkey, instant gravy/mashed potatoes, rolls, the worst instant stuffing in the world, and some CRUMPETS for dessert. Check us out.
Post "Thanksgiving" it was party time. Ndu, one of the American kids from Harvard that we were visiting, is a club promoter in London this semester, so he invited us along to the "Club Neon" for the night. After some significant pre gaming (hell no am I paying for drinks in London), we headed across town. I have no idea where this club was, but it was far. It was also freeeeeezing, and I was not wearing a jacket because someone had told me that no one was going to (and nowwwww I am sick today, I deserve it I guess). So yes, the night was very fun. London nightlife definitely goes way later than Beantown, and we were back at Christine's around five. Lindsay and I both fell happily asleep on Christine's floor, using our jeans as pillows and jackets as blankets. Gotta love traveling on a budget :)
The next day we were supposed to wake up for an 11am walking tour but that did NOT happen. We eventually rolled out of bed (floor?) at around 11, slowly got dressed, ate, and headed out for our own self guided adventure in Londontown. We took a bus down to Trafalgar Square then got out and just walked around. We covered a bunch of ground, eventually crossing the river and ending up at the Tate Modern Museum. It was pretty much one of the best art museums I've been to. They had a diverse collection of modern art, and the whole thing was free! We ended up spending a good few hours there until we decided that we were starving and had to move on.
We crossed back over the Thames to find a pub that would get Lindsay some fish N chips and me some quality beer (we all have our priorities). At first we stopped by the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, which was sick. This pub was over 400 years old, the only one in the area to survive the great London fire (whenever that was). One of the bars in the place was even still serving gentlemen only (the bartender was female though haha). We wanted to stay here but we were too early for dinner and didn't feel like waiting around. We crossed the street and ended up grabbing some grub and beers at The Punch Tavern, which was perfect. I had the Hobgoblin handpulled ale, which may just be one of my favorites of all time now. Lindsay preferred the Hooky Bitter, and I ended up having that as my second one so that I could have a variety. Lindsay got the most kickass fish n chips I have ever seen, and I got the crabcakes. Yeah, crabcakes may not be the most famously british meal, but I haven't had them in forever and seemed like the most appealing thing at the time. They were great.
After dinner and good conversation with some London lads, we headed back to Lauren's place in Camden. We were beat from the night before and the day full of walking. The 3 of us ended up watching Love Actually until sleep. How cute.
After a less than enjoyable night of sleeping on the floor with no pillows or blankets (again), Lindsay and I were up and at 'em and ready for our 11am walking tour on Sunday. Danny, a guy visiting Ndu for the weekend (another Harvard kid), decided to join us. The tour was great: free, funny, informative, covered a good amount of ground. Only downfall: IT WAS FREEZING. I dunno what happened but it really turned into winter in Europe this past weekend. It's been pretty cool for a few months, but just recently it became downright terrible. The tour covered Buckingham Palace, St. James Palace, Pall Mall Street, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and other places along the way. After it was done we searched desperately for a hot drink/food. We ended up finding one cute little cafe and then proceeded on to O'NEILLS PUB to really get warmed up.
After each enjoying a good Irish Winter drink, the 3 of us met up with Christine and Lauren at the Hyde Park Christmas Market. London really knows how to go all out for Christmas. The market resembled Oktoberfest in its cute German way, but was way more holiday inspired. There was a moose singing christmas songs, dozens of stalls selling gifts, and even more stalls selling food and hot drinks. Mulled wine was the hit of the evening, and I plan on finding a good homemade recipe asap. We walked around the market for a while, but it started to rain so we decided it was time to find some better coverage. We headed over to Leicester Square and ended up settling on a Mexican restaurant that looked pretty popular. The food was bomb. I had veggie fajitas, while the others got burritos and chimichangas. Holy food comas after that. We decided to top off the evening by hopping around to a few different pubs in the area. I had to get up at 530 the next day to make my bus for the airport so we weren't out too late. Overall, it was just a really fun, chill evening around downtown.
So yes! Thats my little London recap. Ive been typing on the computer all day so sorry if the grammar/typos got worse as that entry went on. My eyes are killing me from looking at the screen.
Now I'm in the homestretch. I land back in boston 3 weeks from yesterday, and in that time I have 4 papers to accomplish
-the expansion of microbial genomic and metagenomic data in recent years has had a profound impact on our understanding of microorganisms and their interaction with the environment. Discuss
-discuss the advancements in plant genomics made in the 21st century. Discuss the hurdles the field must overcome in the next 10 years
- Critically assess Hegel's view of the connection between history and reason
-Monoclonal antibodies: How the answer to a theoretical question led to practical tools. Discuss.
Just gotta do about 10 pages for each of those topics then DONEZO. 3 weeks is probably a fair amount of time to get that done, it just means no more fun and games. It's okay- im too poor for that anyway.
Oh yesss, and I registered for classes for the spring. I am officially taking the easiest semester in history
-parasitology & lab (sounds hard but I've had the professor before, basically girls get As.)
-International affairs and globalization (easy freshman level class that i need to complete my IAF minor)
-Statistical Thinking (probably easiest math class offered at Northeastern, but I need it for genetics grad school so there ya go)
-Beethoven (should be cool/easy, and it fulfills my humanities biology requirement)
Okay, this post has been a pretty good way to procrastinate. Back to worrrrk