One of the many marvelous things about the museums in London is the entrance to the main exhibits are free! Sometimes the temporary exhibits have a small entrance fee, but there is usually a student discount. Yesterday, I went to the Victoria and Albert Museum. The museum has a massive collection and I spent hours in really only three exhibits. The free cost allowed me to take my time without worrying about having to see everything in one day. It's only a short tube ride away, so I can pop back in to see more some other time! I saw the Disobedient Objects exhibit, which featured protest objects from numerous countries in a variety of time periods and then a fashion exhibit, followed by the temporary Wedding Dresses exhibit, which featured dresses from the late 1700s to present day. It was really interesting to see how fashions change and evolve. There were some absolutely stunning gowns! We weren't allowed to take photos in that part of the museum, but I took few photos of the exterior and interior in other parts.
I've met a few British students so far and, at the risk of making a sweeping generalization, it seems that everyone participates in the cultural activities: going to the museum to see temporary exhibits, going to all of the musicals, and even attending opera performances. I've noticed that in the US, most people don't fully utilize the cultural opportunities their cities offer. I think this is something we should strive toward in the US!
Afterward, we enjoyed people and pigeon watching over some delicious crepes. I liked the Kensington area of London, as it seemed a bit less hectic than other parts. I'd like to go back to see more the Victoria and Albert Museum, as well as the Natural History Museum!
Today was the Buckingham Palace tour! This was probably my favorite tourist-y activity in London so far! We weren't allowed to take photos inside, which was probably a good thing because I would have stopped every few seconds to take a photo! The throne room and state rooms were absolutely gorgeous and so detailed! They had a special exhibit called "Royal Childhood" which featured items from royals childhoods throughout the years from a doll house decorated by the daughters of King George III back in the eighteenth century to the current Queen's large play house to the blanket President and Mrs. Obama gave to Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as a gift for Prince George. The tour was a self-guided audio tour and gave lots of interesting facts, like how when the Queen hosts a dinner, the menu is in French and she proof-reads the French herself and pointing out a table that was specially designed for Napoleon. I loved the tour!
Classes start tomorrow! I have an exciting week planned: stay tuned!
Have you ever visited a palace or castle?
One of my first big events since my arrival was the International Student Boat party! This took over 460 international students on a massive boat while cruising the River Thames. There were tables inside around windows, but there open decks on both floors where we could go out and see the sights as we cruised by. I made sure to be outside when we went under Tower Bridge! The draw bridge opened for us and the bridge was all lit up. It was so cool!
The cruise dropped us off at the pier around 11 PM and then we made our way back to the university. Since the tube closes at midnight, it was pretty crowded! Luckily, we all made it back without any problems! I've been on the tube everyday since my arrival and am starting to get the map in my head. It felt surprisingly familiar when I first arrived, even though I had only spent three days riding it before.
On Wednesday, I went to visit Camden Town, one of London's famous markets. They had stalls both indoor and outdoor and featured everything from handmade jewelry to discount shoes to ethnic food stalls. I don't even like shopping usually and I loved looking at the wide variety of options. Prices here are lower than actual brick and mortal stores. It would be a great place to do Christmas shopping! I was especially excited about the three massive bags of loose leaf that I got for a low price. I also found a little cat backpack that was too cute to pass up!
While at the Camden market, I also bought some fresh-squeezed orange juice that tasted just like what we get in Florida. I'm noticing that the UK has much better options for fresh juices. Even bottled ones are not from concentrate. We also stopped at Cookies and Scream bakery, an ice cream and cookie bar that is completely vegan and gluten-free. My cookie dough milkshake was better than anything non-vegan I've had. If you find yourself in Camden Town, you must visit!
After the market, we went to the Whole Foods in Piccadilly Circus. It was a lot of fun seeing the difference between the produce and vegetarian products that they offer in the UK to the US. We tried to get back to campus during tube rush hour while there was a shortage failure at one of the stations...it was so packed that I could barely move! We ended up turning around and taking a taxi, which was a much smarter choice! Splitting the taxi three ways was only five pounds, plus we got to see what was happening out and about in London.
I'm off to my English literature induction now!
Do you like shopping at markets? Have you ever been to one in London?
Hi, I’m Crystal! I love to travel and am currently a graduate student in Scotland. You’ll get all the best tips and insights from my experiences as a former ice-skating coach in Iceland and former study abroad student. Of the 27 countries I have visited, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis has been the strangest land yet. Type 1 has not slowed down my travels and you'll learn how to take type 1 with you on the road! You can connect with me further on Instagram @CrystalChilcott, or send me ideas of where I should travel next via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHappy Travels, Crystal
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