Soooo…. I went to England. I didn’t plan to go to England. I didn’t plan to go to Europe at all. But airlines make no sense and fares to go from Tokyo to the USA were substantially cheaper if I went via London. So I did. Surprisingly, I had never been to the UK before. I don’t really know how it’s never happened but I guess I always assumed I would go at some point so it never featured so highly on my list. Get the hard ones out of the way first and save the easy ones for later, right?
My first impression of the UK was pretty terrible. As one of her newest royal subjects, I was expecting the queen to meet me at the airport. That bitch didn’t. I thought the Brits were supposed to be polite? Ugh. Oh well. I suppose I’m fairly used to dealing with bitchy queens. I also had a bad impression of the UK from their transport. Trains are incredibly expensive, a bit confusing, and the station staff are anything but helpful. The subway (aka tube or underground) is insanely crowded and uncomfortable. I hope/plan to move to the UK after this year of travel is over, but I’m now a bit nervous about it based on what my commute might look like. But, transport and a bitchy queen aside, London didn’t feel all too foreign. The main reason: I have so many familiar faces there. Between Australians who live in Britain, Brits who used to live in Australia, and the many British travellers I’ve met along the way, my social circle in London would already be at critical mass on day 1 when I hopefully/finally move there.
Given my crowded schedule full of catch-ups with friends – and a few insurance networking meetings thrown in for good measure – I didn’t really have much free time to sightsee. But, I did manage to do a handful of things.
A few highlights of my time in England:
My first stop in England was Bristol. Not usually on most people’s itineraries, I popped over to visit a mate. Bristol doesn’t have too much to offer for tourists, but one stand-out attraction was Brunel’s SS Great Britain Museum. The SS Great Britain was a ship from the 1800’s that was super revolutionary at the time. The museum displays the ship (which was salvaged in the 1970’s from a scrapyard in the Falkland Islands) as well as history of the time, history of ship technology, and history of the ship itself. It was a grand surprise. I also visited the Bristol Zoo and rode my first red double decker bus.
I made a day trip to Oxford to visit two friends who live in that area. The city was cute and it was a nice day walking through the streets and park areas. Aside from that, I didn’t really do anything touristy aside from looking at some of the university buildings.
My friend Charlotte took off work on my first full day in London and took me on a great walking tour of the city. We saw the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, the London Eye, the Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, and so much more. I also got a picture in one of the famous red phone booths that smells like piss. Now I’m really a tourist in Britain. Yippee! I visited the spectacular Tate Modern on my own and hit up the National Portrait Gallery one evening with friends. My friend Tamara from university met me for a walk at Regent’s Park followed by food at the delicious Borough Market. I also had various other outings, meals, and drinks with various friends and groups of friends. It’s so hard being popular.
London has not one but two of my 103 Things, and I was able to properly check one off on this trip. The food hall inside the world famous Harrod’s department store was on my list. Prices were high but I splurged on brunch inside the department store followed by the purchase of a super posh red velvet cupcake from the food hall. OMG JIZZWORTHY.
The Brits are not known for their cuisine. Not at all. But I did manage to go local for my first lunch in the country by way of a meat pie from the best-named pie shop in the whole country: Pie Minister. That was pretty much where my experimentation with the local food ended. London is massive and has all sorts of food. I had Indian food – a staple of the British diet – as well as several Australian-style cafes for brunch. And, of course, I had Mexican food. Four times. Because I can.
It was so good to see all of my friends – particularly Ross and Jon who hosted me for the week! Despite the transport woes, it was a good first taste of what very well could be my future home. Visiting all my peeps got me in the mood to see a few more of my peeps. I hadn’t been back to the USA in 3.5 years so it was about time for a visit. But first, let me take a selfie.
To see more photos of my time in England, follow this link: