Posted by: brookenado | February 23, 2012

Woke up in London yesterday

Dear readers,

Technically, I woke up in London Saturday and Sunday; found myself in city, near Piccadilly – I could go on, but I’ll spare you the rest of the lyrics.  Last weekend was my wonderful adventure in London, and I’m sure you are dying to hear all about it! Prepare yourselves, though, for this shall be a mighty post.  But a reward awaits those of you who make it through!  Our journey began with a train ride around 8:30 Friday morning…

We made it to Falmer station just before the train arrived; myself with a full backpack, purse, and a cinnamon roll in hand.  My backpack was extremely fat, but to be fair, I managed to get two pairs of boots and a hairdryer in there on top of the clothes, towel, and toiletries I brought.  We arrived in Victoria Station without a problem and made our way to the Astor Victoria, the hostel we stayed at, which was about a ten minute walk from the station.  After locking our stuff up in the luggage room (check-in wasn’t until after 2pm), we then turned around and made our way towards Knightsbridge and the Natural History Museum.  When we got there we were definitely not expecting the crowd that was there!  Luckily, the line moved very quickly so we only had to wait half an hour to get in.

The exhibits were primarily focused on geology and the formation of the earth, with some others on plants and animals as well.  After a few hours checking it out, we walked down to the next building and into the Science Museum.  I spent the most time here on the first floor, dedicated to space exploration and travel – you know me, always looking up at the stars.  I was extremely pleased to see a tidbit about the Cassini-Huygens with an accompanying replica of the Huygens part of the probe on display.  For those of you who don’t know, I did a research paper on the Cassini-Huygens in 7th grade and have been hearing about it here and there ever since – the probe is still collecting data on Saturn and Titan to this day!  After seeing both museums, it hit me that this was the first time I’d gone to a museum and felt I’d known most of the information presented.  Rather than learning it, it felt as if I could have helped create the displays.  It was an odd, yet profound, “a-ha” moment in which a sense of educational importance, accomplishment, and dare I say it gratitude befell me.

The only time we took the tube over the weekend was our return journey from the museums, and having used it for the Butler day trip, I was able to successfully get us back to Victoria Station.  Actually, I was pretty much “Navigator Brooke” for the weekend and I’m happy to report that I didn’t fail us once!  We were running a little late as it was to get back, change, and get food before Amanda, Betsey, and I went to the theatre.  Upon returning to the hostel we checked in and then changed.  Then, dressed in my gray jeans, purple shirt, gray sweater, and high heeled boots, we walked to a little pasty shop we’d passed on the way back and grabbed some pasties.  I had a pork and apple pasty, which was good, though we had to scarf it down (originally, we were going to stop somewhere to sit down and have dinner).  After Iris took a picture of the three of us all dressed up outside the pasty shop, the three of us booked it to Her Majesty’s Theatre.  (I was really impressed with myself in my heel boots, they were a good buy it turns out, as they were very comfortable)

Usually so on top of these kinds of things, I couldn’t believe I’d forgotten to double check the email regarding picking up the tickets we’d bought…and also the address of the theatre.  Yeah.  I knew the area we needed to be in and had mapped that out so we made our way to Trafalgar Square, when out of pure luck I thought to check the other paper map that we (my mom and I) had printed out before leaving home.  And lo and behold, there was Her Majesty’s Theatre on the map – and it was extremely close to the National Gallery, where we were!  We still asked someone if they knew how to get there, just to be sure we would take the quickest way because I really wanted to make sure we’d get our tickets.  We arrived just past 7, the show started at 7:30, and I picked up our tickets inside without a problem.  Phew, I was extremely relieved.  Now because I could literally go on about the show, there will be a post dedicated to just that!

Saturday found me tired, but extremely happy.  Having showered the night before – the bathrooms were decent enough, with individual showers, hot water (at least the shower I used did), and, yes, the curtain was disgusting and needs replacing and the space was a little cramped, but overall it was fine – I changed and went down to breakfast.  Did I mention that breakfast was included in the hostel we stayed at?  A choice of two cereals and bread for toast (along with peanut butter, a variety of jams, and nutella) were provided which suited me just fine.  Free is good.  You could even make yourself a sandwich for lunch and save a meal there too; which I did and then realized Saturday was the day I was not going to need a lunch because we were going to afternoon tea!  Well, we left the hostel around 10 in the morning and walked back to the area we were at on Friday.  This time, though, we went to the Victoria and Albert Museum which was pretty neat.  It was more of an art museum with sculptures, Medieval art, Asian textiles and pottery, a cast iron exhibit, and more that we didn’t get around to.  We spent a few hours wandering around the museum and then made our way to Harrods, which, to our luck, was nearby as it had started to rain.  Having been to Harrods once before, I knew it was something we had to go and just walk around in.

It’s huge!  Literally, it’s like its own mall in one, multi-storied building that takes up an entire block.  Amanda appreciated it the most, along with me, and even though I’m not a big shopper (nor could afford anything in the apparel departments)  I can’t help but just appreciate everything that is in there.  Especially the market and food floor!  There are also little restaurants and cafes, even an ice cream parlor, wine cellar, and various departments such as home and electronics, shoes (displayed as if they were the royal jewels!), and more within Harrods.  After Harrods we had but a 50 yard walk to the hotel where we were having afternoon tea.  Again, you can anticipate a more detailed post just on the tea!

We left the hotel from tea around 6pm and by then the rain had stopped.  We stopped in a few more shops that were still open along the street as we made our way back towards Victoria.  Iris and Betsey stopped for Subway later, and we stopped in the St. George’s Tavern down the street from our hostel before heading in for the night.  At the pub, Amanda and I split a dish of fish and chips (classic, I know) and we split two ciders for the table.  The food was good and the ciders were delicious!  We tried a spiced rhubarb and apple cider (you could taste the cinnamon in it and it captured the flavor of a rhubarb-apple cake) and a wild berry cider (this one was the unanimous winner, though, with a nice light, yet flavorful taste to it – it tasted like soda actually).  I took pictures of them, of course!

Sunday we got up, had breakfast, and checked out at 10am.  The staff at the hostel was extremely nice, and we were able to store our stuff in the luggage room once again for the day even though we had checked out.  It was definitely nice not having to carry it around all day until leaving.  On our way towards Trafalgar and Piccadilly we passed Buckingham Palace.  There happened to be a huge crowd outside so naturally, we decided to wait and see what the fuss was about.  While waiting, I got all the pictures I need of the Palace (you’ll see…).  It turned out to be a band of guards playing instruments and marching inside the Palace – I’m not sure if that is what the changing of the guards regularly entails or not, so I don’t know if that’s what it was.  It looks like I’ll have to do some research, readers.

We had planned on going to the Tate Modern, but after asking someone at the front desk of the National Gallery what street it was on and finding that on the map, we decided to leave that for another day and spend our time in this area instead.  So we spent a little bit of time in the National Gallery (I still need to go back and see the rest, though Amanda and I seem to be slowly but surely getting around it!) before walking towards Piccadilly and stopping at a Cafe Nero for lunch.  This is where that sandwich I’d made came into play (along with some other snacks I’d packed).  We stopped around some touristy shops because I’m keeping an eye out for a sweatshirt, but I’d like it to be not too touristy and of decent quality (so no, I didn’t find one).

In the afternoon we decided to start heading back and started towards Green Park from Piccadilly.  On the way we stopped in Kahve Dunyasi, this amazing dessert restaurant that was very crowded.  They had truffles, bark/fudge, cake slices, specialty drinks (as in coffee type drinks or shakes), ice cream, and more.  We opted not to sit down, not wanting to wait for a table, and so Amanda and I got something to go.  It was a tough choice between the caramel chocolate cake and the chocolate truffle cake slices, so I asked the woman at the register if she had a preference for one or the other.  She said those were actually the two best selling of the cakes and liked both; one (the caramel) was a little bit lighter while the other (the truffle) was more decadent.  I decided to go for a piece of the chocolate truffle cake.

Cake piece in fancy box and bag in hand, we walked back to the Astor Victoria, got our belongings, and walked back up the street to the train station.  I have to say that I was impressed with our hostel, the location was great, the staff helpful, it had hot water, our belongings were safe, and the free breakfasts a definite plus.  We are keeping it in mind for our next London excursion, that is for sure!  At the train station the first train back to Brighton was cancelled so we had bit of a wait until the next one.  We got on the train at 6 and I was extremely surprised at how crowded it was!  We couldn’t find seats together so Iris and I, after a 10 minute ride having sneaked into a tiny first class compartment, manged to grab seats with two other women at the first stop.  We made it back to campus after switching trains at Brighton Station and parted ways as I went to Swanborough and they to York House.  It was after eating some of the dinner that Ashley had made for everyone that night that I got to enjoy my decadent cake slice.  It was the perfect way to end the weekend.

And now I’ll close this up so you may get on with your day, but more importantly, to get on to the pictures!  A whole weekend’s worth of tales has made this the longest post yet; I do hope it’s been an enjoyable retelling.  Remember, there is more to come with the details and the photos of our night at Her Majesty’s Theatre and our tea at the Levin Hotel!  I’d also like to wish you all a Happy belated Pancake Day!  We watched the Prince of Egypt at the anim8s last night to celebrate, though unfortunately due to lack of sleep and having work to get done I had to skip out on making pancakes (essentially, crepes) afterwards.  Thanks for reading, cheers!  Until then…

Mischief managed

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