After a short train ride from Edinburgh, I’ve found myself back in one of the most international cities in all of Europe: London, England. Though the city is enormous and spread out over a massive area of land (divided by the River Thames), it is surprisingly easy to explore it’s many sites using the bus systems or the famous Underground — known as “The Tube.”
And as an added bonus, I was able to crash with a few very kind and hospitable friends for the duration of my stay, so no more creaky hostel beds and water-saving showers (yay!). Thanks again, Mark and Lauren! This was particularly nice, too, in that every person I’ve interacted with on the trip so far has been a stranger I just met for the first time — so seeing a few familiar faces was more than a welcomed sight.
I won’t bore you with details about the city or its history, as England is usually one of the most familiar countries to Americans, but I will still provide you with a series of pictures of the major sites for your enjoyment, which will commence now:
If you happen to visit London when it’s raining, as I did, two great alternative options are the British Museum and the National Gallery — both of which offer the very budget-friendly admission price of nothing. The former museum houses a vast collection of culturally significant pieces from across the world (though there has been some controversy over their unwillingness to repatriate several of these), whereas the later is a magnificant art museum displaying works from the 14th through the 20th century from such artists as Monet, Seurat, Da Vinci, Van Eyck, and Botticelli.
Besides seeing the sites and doing all of the touristy things (riding a double decker bus, getting your pricture taken with a British guard, going into a red phone booth, etc.), I was lucky enough to be visiting during the finals of the Rugby Carnegie Challenge Cup held at Wembley Stadium. Admittedly, we had to read up on the rules of rugby before going and still didn’t quite follow all of the action, but we had a blast anyway.
And fresh off of the Fringe Festivals in Edinburgh, I arrived just in time for Europe’s largest street fair: the 2-day dance festival that is Carnival in the posh Knotting Hill neighborhood. Eventhough the official Carnival originated in Trinidad and Tobago and is generally celebrated throughout parts of the Carribbean and Brazil, the English folk still like to dance to the rhythm of samba and steel drums (though they wait for August, as the weather in London in February can be a bit tough). The festival included a series of music and DJ stations, dozens of floats circulating through the crowd blasting music, and hundreds of food vendors serving up the likes of Jerk Chicken and Goat Curry.
England is also a great city from a culinary perspective (markets seem to be on every corner), so I’ve got another post due out in the next day or two concerning that which can be consumed or imbibed. And further, I’m catching a plane to Copenhagen, Denmark tomorrow for a few days, after which I’m planning on heading Southwest to Amsterdam, Netherlands followed up with a beer tour through Belgium, and then into France and Spain. Until then, cheers!