London

After exploring Germany, I went on a trip the the U.K. with some friends from my alma matter, James Madison University (go Dukes!). Our first stop was London. I stayed in a hostel called YHA St. Pancras, which was run by the same company as the hostel I stayed in in Chamonix. I liked this hostel because it was clean, modern, and close to the Kings Cross and St. Pancras train stations and Underground. I arrived in London earlier than my friends, so I decided to check out the British Library, which is right across from the hostel. It had an exhibit which was free to the public. I saw literature from Shakespeare, the Beatles, old religious texts and more. There was also an exhibit about the recording of sound which was interactive – you could listen to recordings from different decades. It was quick, interesting, and free activity.

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Typical Phone Booth Shot

When my friends arrived and got settled into their hotel, we deiced to meet at St. Pauls Cathedral. I decided to walk there so I could get a taste of the city. Some parts are London are beautiful, but if I’m being honest, it’s not the most attractive I’ve ever been to, not to mention the air pollution. St. Paul’s Cathedral was pretty, it was too late for us to go inside however. We spent the rest of the evening walking around and we went to the Blackfriars Bridge then ate at a pub called “Dogget’s” The food there was really delicious. I wasn’t expecting much from British food after having lived in France, the culinary capital of the world, but it was tasty and comforting. At the restaurant I ate a vegan lentil cottage pie and I had the best cider in the world – Elderberry cider by a Scottish company called “The Thistly Cross.”

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First Dinner in London

The next morning I met Virginia, and her friend from school who was also visiting London we had breakfast at a cute place by Kings Cross, then we took the underground to Camden Town. This part of London was probably my favorite, and I’m not just saying that because I have the same name. There were lots of street vendors and lots of yummy food – I had some vegan falafel. After checking out the market, we decided to go to Buckingham Palace, which was kind of a disappointment compared to the palace of Versailles. I did get to see a guard with the big funny hat though, so it was worth it. Then we walked to Hyde Park and sat by lake and watched other people feed the Swans. After the park we stopped in a pub for some cider and a snack. In the pub there was a horse race on TV and lots of men who got passionate about it. It seemed like the British equivalent of a sports bar with a football game on.

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The Camden Market
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Buckingham Palace
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Swans in Hyde Park

Later that evening we met the other girls for dinner at Nando’s. We were determined to discover what really was a “cheeky Nando’s.” For those of you who don’t know it’s basically a fast casual restaurant known for their chicken and piri piri sauce. Fortunately there were also vegan options so I had a veggie burger with a side of chips, which I actually like better than thin fries because I can taste the fluffy potato inside. That night I walked around the city with Devon and Annalie and we went to the London Bridge and saw the London Eye, Big Ben, and the Tower Bridge. Big Ben was being worked on so it was covered with scaffolding, save the clock face. That just means I’ll have to come back one day to see it again!

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The London Eye
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The Tower Bridge
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Big Ben

The next morning Virginia and I went to Kings Cross to take photos at Platform 9 3/4. I identify as RavenPuff, but I went with the Ravenclaw scarf this time around. It was magical and Virginia and I were living our childhood fantasy. Later we stopped in a coffee shop to grab a quick breakfast before taking the train to our next destination: Edinburg.

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Platform 9 3/4 in King’s Cross Station

Thanks for reading!

– Cam

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