When I finally arrived in London on Easter evening after a long day of travel delays, I was (almost) too excited about all of the signs being in English to even care (as much as usual) about British accents. Everyone was conversing in English! All the signs were in English! Of course, considering that I was in England, this was hardly surprisingly, but after nearly three months of people initially speaking to me in Icelandic followed by a few days of Danish (note: replying in Icelandic that you don't speak Icelandic isn't particularly helpful when you're speaking to a Dane speaking Danish), I was very excited to see my native language everywhere.
I consider London my third home, having lived here for nearly a year. This trip was a mix of re-visiting my old stomping grounds as well as checking out new locations on my ever-growing London to-do list. To anyone who has never visited London, I don't think I can accurately explain just how big it is, both in terms of population and geography. I am from a very small town in Pennsylvania and when I moved to Colorado Springs, I initially thought the city was massive. It doesn't even compare to London! While there are detriments to a city that big, its strength is there is a never-ending list of things to do. There is always another museum exhibit to check out, another market to visit, another coffee shop to try, another place to visit. The list goes on. When I lived in London, I was an avid patron of Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium.
This time, I went to Colour in with Cats for the first time. Since I've dragged virtually anyone in the UK who would go with me to the cat cafe at least once, I just went by myself. Colour in with Cats has replaced cat yoga for the time being, though I mentioned that they should bring cat yoga back, which they said they were considering. For an hour and a half, a had a table to myself, access to cat colouring books, time with some adorable cats, and my choice of a selection of cat-themed teas and coffees. On the menu was The Carbonelle (named after one of the cat cafe's felines), a peanut butter and jelly latte, which the worker said she found a bit peculiar, but I told her that since I'm American, I would probably like it. I did. See, I embrace my American-ness when it suits me. The rest of the time, I'm a "Briticised American."
One of the major things on my London to-do list that I somehow never got around to doing was visiting of the "London view" attractions: the London Eye, the Emirates Air Line cable car, the top floor of St. Paul's Cathedral, the Shard, or any of the restaurants in Heron Tower. This trip, I finally visited one of these locations by going to Sushi Samba, on the 39th floor of the Heron Tower.
The unfortunate thing about visiting a 39th floor establishment is the inevitable ride in an elevator/lift. Luckily, the elevator was glass, which makes it slightly better because if we get stuck, presumably someone would actually see us. However, when we first got in, the doors wouldn't shut. That is never a good sign. If the doors won't close, why should I believe that they will open? Once the doors shut, it took three tries to get the lift to start moving. Luckily, that was the only elevator incident and the view was worth it.
Prior to visiting Sushi Samba, we prepared ourselves for a rooftop terrace by visiting the Queen of Hoxton's Wig Wam Bam, one of my favourite places around Hoxton, which I've written about before. I love the fairy tale theme each winter, the bonfires, and the rooftop atmosphere.
Fresh off my biking adventures in Copenhagen, I spent more time renting Barclays bikes and walking than usual. While the London tube experience is quite fun, walking and biking lends itself to some incredible sites that would otherwise go unnoticed when underground.
On my last afternoon in London, my friend and I went to vegan high tea at Ethos. They even successfully replicated clotted cream with cashew cream.
Another new place that I visited this trip was Evans and Peel "Detective Agency." To enter the speakeasy, you have to create a case that you would like investigated. We stuck to half-true story of a flooded flat due to a leak in the shower (this part is true, what else could we except after all those travel delays!?) and that we wanted to see who was trying to get us evicted. (Oh, yeah, after like twelve hours in London, I was already referring to my friend's flat as "our flat.")
After that, it is through the bookshelves to Narnia. Does this kind of look familiar? I thought so too.
It is actually quicker to go from London to Brighton than it is from one side of London to the other. Well, at least it usually is. However, I went the morning after arriving from Copenhagen, when the south coast was getting battered with wind and rain. The first train was cancelled and the second train had speed restrictions due to trees falling on the tracks. It was worth sticking it out and visiting Brighton, because once I finally got there, it was gorgeous and sunny!
This was my fourth trip to Brighton and I seem to take a similar photo every time! (Funny, this post talks about the cat cafe and Brighton!)
I spent another afternoon in Oxford. I visited Oxford multiple times when I lived in London, but each time I visited, Oxford's (arguably) most famous college, Christ Church, was closed to the public. This time it was open, so I finally got to visit! The halls might look familiar since they were used in the filming of Harry Potter.
When I entered the cathedral, one of the cathedral attendants offered me a tour, which I accepted. If a worker ever offers you a free tour of a college or cathedral, accept it! You learn so much more about the story behind things than you would otherwise. Having just completed my English literature degree with my final senior literature seminar on Anglo Saxon and Medieval literature, I especially appreciated the various stories and characters from the texts I read represented in the stained glass windows.
Also, notice the candlesticks in the above photo? It turns out they have a connection to Saxonburg, Pennsylvania! They were given as a gift by the Roebling family, best known of course for the Brooklyn Bridge, but the family resided in Saxonburg and Roebling park still exists in Saxonburg.
Oxford is such a lovely place. It's really one of my favourite places in all of England.
On my last day in London, I found these flats in East London with my name on them...maybe someday!
My visit to London went by quickly and it was soon time to fly home to Reykjavik ("home to Reykjavik" still sounds strange to me. Like, sometimes I forget I live in Iceland and then I return home at night to see the northern lights in the sky and think "Oh, I live in Iceland, those are just the northern lights dancing across the sky.")
The turbulence on the flight was terrible; it was also full of rather loud and intoxicated British guys (I naturally took advantage of their impaired state to convince one of them to marry me for citizenship purposes. Kidding. I'm holding out for a British musician. Kidding, again. Kind of.) and one of the bumpiest flights I recall (not quite as bad as the flight from Budapest to Istanbul on Hungary's budget airline that was so bumpy on the descent that everyone burst into applause when we actually landed on the ground safely. Or as bad as the flight I took on a 10th grade school trip between Costa Rica and Texas where the storm was so bad that we got diverted to a different city and at one point I looked over to see my friend reading the emergency safety card).
But fortunately the flight arrived safely in Iceland and I was once again greeted by signs not in my native tongue. (Though I can kind of read them now!)
Question of the day: Have you ever been to London?
Hi, I’m Crystal! Just like you, I love to travel. 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 24 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: email@example.comHappy Travels, Crystal
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