I met up with some friends for 4 days in London a few weeks ago. Since Madrid is the nearest major airport to Salamanca, there was a LOT of commuting, but it was worth it to see Shayla and Sara (who study in a city about 3 hours from London), and Alex, who came to visit from Minnesota. My flight left Thursday morning, so I had the treat of taking the latest bus (Salamanca to Madrid) on Wednesday night to catch some z’s in the Madrid airport. It was not great. I decided to go through security as soon as it opened (about 4am) because sleep wasn’t happening, but things got better from there. Flying out of the country at the beginning of the weekend, I find that people are always very excited and loud. While I was dead-tired after not having slept all night, other passengers were clapping and cheering at takeoff and singing songs when landing. I had this experience when flying to Rome as well, though people are much quieter when coming home on a Sunday.
After arriving at the airport, I took an hour bus ride to the city center to meet up with Shayla. I hadn’t seen her since last summer and I was incredibly excited to be reunited. We both ran towards each other with open arms, and just like a poorly written comedy film, a truck pulled out in between us just before we could hug. What luck. We checked into our hostel and then set out for food. I have a tendency to eat at American restaurants when I travel because I eat Spanish food all the time. So we went to Chipotle (a burrito place, YUM). Spicy food does not exist in Spain, nor does guacamole. Now recharged, we toured around and saw Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace and St. Paul’s Cathedral. We also rode a double-decker bus just for kicks and took photos in the classic red telephone booth (both necessary experiences).
An eerie Trafalgar Square after it was taped off by police who found a “suspicious knapsack” they suspected was a bomb. It wasn’t.
With St. Paul’s, I have seen the 3 largest cathedrals in Europe.
Somehow, we stumbled into a theatre and walked out with two tickets to see Chicago the musical that night! It was nothing short of incredible, and despite my 40-hour streak of being awake, I could have immediately watched it again. Shayla had to deal with me singing all the songs from having watched the movie so many times and listening to the soundtrack on my ipod (sorry, Shayla). I slept very well that night.
Friday’s plan was for Shayla to meet her study abroad group for a tour of the Parliament building while I took the metro to the Heathrow airport to surprise Alex. It turns out Alex’s flight had arrived one hour early, so you can imagine my surprise when she called my name as I waited in line for coffee. The plan didn’t go as expected, but we were so excited to see each other that it didn’t matter. We trekked back into town to meet up with Shayla and Sara for some more sightseeing (Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye) and for more Chipotle (:
Westminster Abbey + tourists
We started off our Saturday by walking to the Camden Market that was right near our hostel. There were vendors selling everything from jewelry to American candy to clocks made out of melted bottles. I got some Reece’s Peanut Butter cups because they are nowhere to be found in Spain and peanut butter is rare anywhere in Europe. The booths were along the streets, wound underground, and back outside all the while flooded with people.
Shops all along the shore.
For lunch, we picked up some bread, hummus, cheese, tomatoes, apples, etc. for a picnic in Kensington Gardens. It was a pretty nice day and abnormally sunny for London. Afterwards, we took the underground to Paddington Station to see our friend, Paddington Bear and to King’s Cross to see Platform 9¾. We all took a turn to get a Harry Potter photo and then finished the evening with a fish and chips dinner. Chips=fries. I was very happy to be returning to Spain after 2 weekends in a row of international travel!