"Rachel...figure out maps."
“Rachel…figure out maps.”

While in London, a city I have been to before, I just wanted to walk. I was so excited to be off the tour bus, out of a hostel (getting a bit too old for bunk beds and drunk strangers stumbling all over me at 4am!), into a hot shower. My bestie was working for the week so I got to shack up in a really nice hotel for free (thanks, Ry!).

I wanted to see things I had already seen, but closer and longer than before. What’s great about London is that it is really easy to walk to about all the big sites. They’ve also done a great job with signage in the city, redirecting me if I needed it. I felt safe just strolling along, and ducked into a few coffee shops every now and then to grab free wifi and check into Yelp (I’m addicted) and try to plan my next steps. But sometimes I put in my iPod and wandered, reveling in the freedom to do what I wanted.

I was really hoping baby prince would be born while I was there...alas.
I was really hoping baby prince would be born while I was there…alas.

I walked around Buckingham Palace, and since the royal baby was not yet born, there were newspeople camped out around the perimeter, as they must have been for weeks. They had hammocks, cornhole, almost full kitchens set up in anxious wait. Walked through Piccadilly, along the Thames, Big Ben, House of Parliament (looked for Mr. Darcy).

THIS GUY.
THIS GUY.
This is where the royal weddings, coronations, funerals take place. Freak me OUT.
This is where the royal weddings, coronations, funerals take place. Freak me OUT.

The coolest thing I did was the tour at Winchester Abbey. I loved that place. Definitely worth the audio guide, narrated by Scar Jeremy Irons and chock full of information. Just like in Ireland, I was amazed at the history behind the place. Everything was from hundreds of years ago, unlike here in California where we’re impressed by something fifty years old.

Every hour, as it is primarily a place of worship, a Benedictine monk guy quiets the whole place and leads in a prayer, which was cool. The little chapels were neat, and just knowing how many people had been there was crazy. The Magna Carta, weddings, coronations, funerals. Mary, Queen of Scots and all the good and bad English kings and queens. Then they have a section with famous authors, poets, scientists, etc. and JANE AUSTEN, which I go nuts for. You can light a candle for prayer, and meet with a priest for confession, even. And it was COVERED in Latin. Finally, my knowledge of Latin proves useful.

Rosetta Stone. I just can't get over it.
Rosetta Stone. I just can’t get over it.

I went to the British Museum and that was THE COOLEST PLACE EVER. I was there for hours. I even had lunch and a beer there. All the ancient Roman stuff has so much more meaning now as a Latin teacher. I also paid homage to the Rosetta Stone. As a language person/word nerd I get really overwhelmed by things like that that have allowed us to learn so much about history. Makes my inner Indiana Jones want to dig around in deserts and jungles and change the world.

Fun thing – instead of Dollar Trees, they have “Pound World.”

At night I got dressed up and took myself out on a date in Covent Gardens. The hotel was so convenient to it and I loved all the lights, the crowds. Got a little table and a pizza and litre of wine to myself, and set about journaling.

wine, journal, pizza, what more doth thou require?
wine, journal, pizza, what more doth thou require?

There was a little pixie of a girl with a mic set up and doing her best to out-do Kristen Chenoweth. She sounded pretty great, actually. It’s always nice to have a soundtrack to your dinner. The couple next to me was fighting and then making out and then fighting. Very entertaining. Strangers’ conversations can be more stimulating than your own at times.

The next night, Ry was available and got me on the list to go to this fabulous and super exclusive party with her work at a nameless club that people like George Clooney are investors in. Apparently David Beckham’s friend had been kicked out the week before, and the Royals like to party there. My champagne glass was constantly refilled and I  wondered where Pippa’s famous rear might have sat all night. It was fantastic.

I think London is a pretty safe place to travel. I’m glad that on my big walking day, I sucked up my pride and wore my Tevas (but with a cute dress, because selfies!) since I easily walked six miles that day. The Tube was easy to navigate, the signs were great, people friendly. I love how international the city is – so many people to look at! So many languages! I’d sell valuable things to be able to live there. My only unfulfilled wish was to visit Oxford, so a return is necessary. :)

Gallery of random photos:

Photo Credits –

Scar Pic – http://urgurlbri.hubpages.com/hub/The-Lion-King-Whos-Voice-Are-We-Hearing

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