In her second blog, Emma Wonsowicz gets out and about in London, braving all weathers to get to the city's furthest corners and explore its famous sites and sample its iconic snacks.
Welcome to Week Two of my Arcadia in London blog; if you haven’t already, please check out last week’s entry for some insight into my experience thus far.
After overcoming frustrating delays in receiving our COVID test results, my flatmates and I hit the ground running this week. I made the most of the unusually warm weather on Wednesday by embarking on a ten mile hike through Richmond Park. The tranquility of the expansive nature reserve proved to be the perfect antidote for my quarantine-induced lethargy, and my flatmates enjoyed a similar jolt of energy from perusing nearby Camden Market.
All good things must come to an end, and London’s brief June heatwave soon dissipated into the gloom and rain that traditionally loom over the city. Nevertheless, my flatmates and I continued our exploring. We kicked off the weekend with a damp but spirited walking tour around the Highgate neighborhood that our residence is nestled in, then warmed up with a pitstop to one of many local coffee shops. My flatmate Lauren and I branched off to check out the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. Though the museum featured some stunning works by artists like Raphael, Rembrandt, and Rubens, I must confess that I remain partial to the Art Institute of Chicago (but the National Gallery does have the significant advantage of being free).
While Englishmen have a reputation for being quite reserved, nothing could be further from the truth if you catch them watching a football match in a pub. As part of the Euro 2020 tournament, England and Scotland faced off for a much anticipated Friday night showdown that ended in an anticlimactic zero/zero tie, which we witnessed the underdog Scots celebrate with an excessive amount of fervor in Leicester Square. Saturday brought a boat tour on the Thames and a day of wandering around the nautically-oriented Greenwich borough; Sunday was spent learning England’s bloody history at the Tower of London.
In regards to food, this week we tried snack aisle favorites Jaffa Cakes and Hobnobs. I found the Jaffa Cake to be a sleeper hit (although a few of my flatmates would beg to differ), but both biscuits failed to usurp the chocolate digestives as number one. After being released from quarantine, I beelined to Nando’s to try their iconic Peri-Peri chicken and chips. Although I’ve visited a couple of Nando’s in the U.S., I cannot stress enough how superior the authentic British Nando’s is! A brave flatmate bought a Scotch egg at the Greenwich Market, but this traditional English dish lived up to the U.K.’s reputation for serving bland food, in my opinion. However, the English score another win with their absolutely delicious colicci soft ice cream—blows American soft serve out of the water!
As you can see, my flatmates and I did our best to capitalize on our post-quarantine freedom. That being said, we are slowly starting to realize the difference between traveling for vacation and traveling for study abroad. Study abroad is a marathon, not a sprint, and comes with responsibilities like writing essays, keeping up with laundry, and maintaining a budget. Personally, I am starting to feel the effects of potentially trying to do too much at once, so as the initial excitement wears off, it’ll be nice to settle into a more sustainable pace. For example, our flat held a potluck dinner on Sunday night to give us all a chance to reset with a homecooked meal and a much needed night in!