Monday, July 13, 2009

A Weekend in London

Yay! Finally, a place that speaks English! Don’t get me wrong, I have loved being able to use some of the German language I have been learning recently, but I’m not going to lie, being able to talk to people with no language barriers was amazing! London was an amazing trip. I wish I had more time to explore its all around history and beauty. There is so much to do in London, and there is absolutely no way to see it all in only two and a half days!

On Friday, the first place we went was to Kensington Palace. This is the place where Princess Diana and Prince Charles lived for a short period of time. I am a huge fan of Princess Diana. My grandmother was from England, and of course, she was a huge fan as well. I can remember receiving gifts from England that had Princess Diana on them when I was young, including a tea set (the English love their tea) that featured likenesses of Princess Diana and Prince Charles in celebration of their marriage. I also received many calendars, pictures, stamps and postcards with Princess Diana on them. I have always thought she was an incredible woman with a huge heart. She is a role model for many people around the world still today.

Kensington Palace had eighteen of the dresses that she had worn while she was alive inside the palace. There was also a make shift memorial outside of the palace because her birthday was July 1. We explored around the outside of the house and its gardens, which were stunning! After the palace, we decided to take some fun, candid pictures in the ever-so popular red phone booths, and then headed to do some shopping at Harrods — one of the largest department stores in the world! It sits on over four and a half acres of land with 330 departments within the store. It's every girl’s dream shopping store. You can find almost every brand/designer name in the world in this one store! It was also the first store ever to install an escalator.

After a little shopping, we went to visit the Princess Diana memorial fountain. It was located in a park close to Kensington Palace. It is in a beautiful garden where people are welcome to put their feet in the fountain to cool off and relax. We later decided to check out the London Eye. It is basically a huge, modern ferris wheel ( that gives riders an amazing view of the city of London. Built in 2000 for the millennium celebrations, it was so popular that the city of London decided to keep it up for tourist and their citizens. You can see for miles when you get to the top of the eye. It takes about thirty minutes to make one whole revolution around the wheel. You can get spectacular pictures of the Parliament building and the Big Ben. Afterwards, we decided to get some dinner at a local Chinese restaurant. We heard that the ethnic food in London was really good, so we gave it a try — it was really good!

On Saturday, we decided to take an open top bus tour around the city of London on the “Big Bus Tour.” It took us to see all the major attractions in the city including Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Parliament, St. Paul’s Cathedral (where Princess Diana and Prince Charles got married), the London Eye, London Bridge, Tower Bridge and the Royal Courts of Justice. It also included a river cruise that offered excellent views of the Big Ben and London Eye. We also got to see the Shakespeare Globe Theater and the Millennium Bridge. After that, we stopped by the first ever Harley-Davidson shop in Europe and then headed to dinner at the first ever Hard Rock Café. I had pork nachos that were out of this world good! We also got to tour their “Vault” where we saw all kinds of famous memorabilia from people, such as Elvis, Madonna, B.B. King, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Beatles, Tom Petty, Prince and Kurt Kobain.

After dinner, we went to get a t-shirt for Kent’s sister from Wimbledon. When we got there, we were told we could actually get in to see Venus and Serena Williams play in the women’s doubles championship for only 10 pounds, so we jumped on that deal! It was so much fun! I mean, how many people can say they’ve been to Wimbledon! It was definitely one of the many highlights of our trip!

On Sunday, we had to pack and prepare for the trip back to Karlsruhe, but we didn’t leave without having a little fun first. We went to Buckingham Palace at 10 a.m. to see the Changing of the Guard and ended up sticking around until 11:30 a.m. to see the entire ceremony (with the band). For lunch, we ate at a local café that served England’s famous fish and chips. They were very good! Then we headed back to the airport to travel back to Karlsruhe.

Overall, it was an amazing weekend! It was a wonderful experience and I will definitely be back to visit London!

* Mallory is participating in a study abroad program in Karlsruhe, Germany, organized by Valdosta State University's Langdale College of Business Administration and International Programs.

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