Next step was to get our pounds. Well, to keep this incredibly short and sweet and to the point: THE POUND IS RATHER EXPENSIVE. But nonetheless, we got our currency and then train tickets with our destination being Notting Hill.
So we set forth on the train and flew past the outskirts of London. We arrived at Liverpool Street Station and took the connecting train to Notting Hill! The tube ride went a little something like this: a lot of stumbling around at the quick acceleration from the stops, a lot of "I don't wanna touch that...ew" thoughts, and a lot of needing some extra me space. Personal space is clearly not an option when it comes to riding the underground. As it were though, it was a fun and interesting to see the routes.
We made it to Notting Hill, checked into our room (which only had two beds, but more on that later), settled in and then set out for London again using our tube card for the rest of the afternoon.
After taking the tube the first time, we felt like we were pros and made it back to Liverpool Street Station to explore that side of London. We ended up right in the business district! TALK ABOUT BANKS AND PEOPLE GALORE. Let me tell you, these English know how to dress. Good looking people everywhere! I felt completely under-dressed on this side of town, so we stuck out like sore thumbs, so much so, that a bachelorette party passed us by one time and yelled "Americans!"
Anyways we made our way to the London Bridge in hopes that we would get to see Abbey Street and take a picture on the famous and legendary crosswalk!! So off we walked. And walked. And we walked some more until we saw the sign "Abbey Street." (If you’ve already picked up on where I’m going with this, please, feel free to laugh) I'm looking at the street thinking, “Hey, this doesn't look too touristy at all. Where are all the people?” But it's a Thursday and it's getting later, so I rationalize that may be the reason why. We walked down to the end. Nothing. We walk back the other way in case we missed something. Nothing. I’m ashamed to say it took us a good 5 minutes to realize what might be happening, and the rest of the night until we had WiFi to finally understand that it’s Abbey Road not Street, and that Abbey Road is miles away in Liverpool *proceed to slap hand across face*
Of course it is!! I’d like to believe it was a momentary lapse in memory to that iconic Beatles record, but that’s just a flat out lie.
We walked back up tower bridge, another tourist attraction, and right by the Tower of London! What an awesome castle!! It was already too late to get into, and we thought we wouldn't be back, so we said farewell to that landmark and also that side of town.
Our trek back to Notting Hill took a little while and our stomachs were aching (you’ll probably be hearing that statement a lot during the trip). The grocery store right by our hostel was superb so we bought sandwich meat, and had a little picnic in the room.
Remember how I said we would get back to our bed situation? Well, it turns out that the hostel had separated us and instead of putting us in a three bedroom dorm, they put Sammy and Kristi in a two bedroom, and me in a three bedroom with two other people. It was all a part of the experience, but I wanted to stay with my travel companions, so we made a makeshift bed. Sleeping arrangements included us forming an L with the two twin beds and me sleeping at the corner of the L. I didn't mind at all because that meant I was closer to the people I came to enjoy the trip with.
Okay so I get them up and ready and we decide, hey, it's might possibly rain. We should wear chacos today with our jeans to avoid getting our only pair of shoes wet. With our chacos on our feet and our day pack filled with snacks, Buckingham Palace was our first destination of the day. We didn’t know much about the palace itself except of the palace guards, but we were excited to start the hour or so walk from Notting Hill.
We were lucky (at least we thought) and got right up to the gate to see the men in action at 11:30. We heard it was a spectacular view lasting 40 mins. We had no idea what to expect at all, so we were excited to see what the ordeal was about. So we proceeded to wait for an hour (it was 10:15ish). Cookie and I were keeping ourselves well entertained, and people started to pile up behind us. In our minds, we chuckled and gave snide smiles thinking we definitely had the best seats in the house. Not 5 mins later, however, did the police men there inform us we had to move because we were right in the middle of the driveway into the palace. Heck! We didn't know they were going to use it! We moved, but luckily it was closer to a spotted we were originally at. At this point, we are slightly peeved we had to move and increasingly irritated that the rain wants to pick up. The warning that the event would happen in 30 minutes made the wait more bearably. Not 10 mins later, though, did one of the police men say over the intercom that the changing of the guards would not be happening because of the weather. SIGH
What could we do?
We then set off for Westminster Abbey to take the tour. On our way to the Abbey, the rain continued to pour, we had nothing but our rain jackets to keep us dry, and our hunger got the better of us, so we parked it at the free admission Supreme Court located right in front of Westminster Abbey. It proved to be a wonderful get away, and we conquered our hunger at the downstairs cafe. In an effort to save money, we packed sandwiches and snacks to eat. With our feet well rested and our stomachs at ease (for the most part), we then made our way to line forming around the Abbey.
It was absolutely beautiful. The entire building had so much history, so many rooms, so many murals and sculptures...so many dead Kings and Queens under and in there...and so many people! It truly was a site to see! The free audio tour took us through the entirety of Westminster Abbey, and I have to say it was one of my favorite places of all of London thus far.
Following Westminster Abbey, we played around in the square, and then headed towards Big Ben and Parliament. It was just like the movies, and definitely Sammy and Kristi's favorite. After that, they were kind enough to let me take us on our own Harry Potter walking tour, and so they let me set out!
...in the wrong direction. No fret though. We were meant to get lost in the streets of Europe, and so what if we take a wrong turn and have to track back?
We got back on track and made some cool stops including: a picture with a toy soldier, a cute cinema, and a huge square! On our way through my edited waking tour, the candy shop known to inspire Honeydukes in Harry Potter stood before us. Naturally, I purchased some overpriced Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans (I am not exaggerating when I say over priced) and suffered through the taste (because it's all in the experience, right??) only to realize I wished I would have gotten the same overpriced chocolate frog. Oh well. I absolutely loved it)
So by then, it's time to head home. It’s about 6 o'clock in the evening, and we begin our trek back. The sun made its way out to guide us through Hyde park, and we ended in a cozy little Fish and Chips place. I thought the food was delicious, and the place quite cozy.
We made it back to the hostel, figured out our possible schedule for tomorrow and fell right to sleep!
Following that, we needed to catch a bus back towards the Tower of London because we decided to do the tour there. Unfortunately, it was quite a distance away, so it took a little longer to find and get on. But we did and we left for the Tower.
The Tower tour was amazing!! Essentially, this Tower of London is a castle built back in the 1100s with a bunch of history regarding different reigns and invasions/attempted invasions. A lot of people were persecuted here, Kings, Queens and villains. We took a tour with a man called a Yeoman. These men were apart of the English army and have since retired from that and serve as protectors of this castle. Our Yeoman was funny, cheeky, loud and boisterous...the type of Englishman everyone wishes to have as a tour guide. It made the entire thing so enjoyable! Cookie got to see the pillow where Anne Bolyen was beheaded on (the one thing she really wanted to do!) and we got an earful about just how haunted this place is. EXTREMELY. Second most haunted place in the world, and our Yeoman lives on the grounds (all Yeomen do) in the second most haunted place in the castle. YIKES!
We left there later than anticipated around 5:30 and set off for Kings Cross Station!! We took a few buses to get there, including one that got us a mile from Emirate Stadium and it was too late in the day or too far, but I couldn't see the celebrations from the Arsenal FA cup win! Oh how awesome it would have been to actually sit in a pub and watch a Premier League game in England! Oh well. I'll definitely have to go back again.
We made it to Kings Cross, and funny story. The info desk man was very kind and helped with bus information for after the picture. Whilst I was asking about the spot where 9 3/4 was, he stopped and just pointed. I didn't even finish and he already knew what I was asking for. Oh well. I'm not ashamed!
A couple more bus stops and a grocery stop and we were home to do laundry and pack up for an extremely early morning. Munich here we come!!!