Weekend at 'Home'

Carolyn Fales University of Westminster, England


October 27, 2014

What a weekend! The great thing about studying abroad in London is that even when I’m not traveling, there is still tons to do here.

On Saturday I met up with Jenna and Steve. Jenna is my sister’s best friend and Steve is her boyfriend who lives here and she came to visit. They hadn’t seen the poppies yet at the Tower of London so we met there. It was MOBBED. I’ve been there a couple of times and really enjoyed it, but I’ve never seen it so packed with tourists. You had to inch across the path surrounding the tower constantly saying ‘sorry, sorry, excuse me’. It was crazy, but the view was stunning as ever, the art piece is definitely one of my favorite parts about the city currently.

Jenna loves walking along the West Bank and I hadn’t really yet so we crossed London Bridge and started making our way. They introduced me to Nando’s, which is a quasi fast food restaurant with really good chicken dishes. We ate outside. At some point I asked Steve when the restaurants and pubs stop having outdoor seating, and his answer was basically never. He explained to me how they bring out heaters and I think that’s pretty cool, something you don’t really find in America, at least on the east coast. We continued our walk along the bank and took in the sights and then we parted ways. It was great to see someone from home and be able to catch up with Jenna!

On Sunday I decided to wake up really early. I wanted to try and get tickets for Matilda at the Cambridge Theater. They, like a lot of other theaters, do specially priced ‘day of’ tickets. I got up around seven which wasn’t too bad considering day light savings and made my way to the theater. I wasn’t sure exactly how early I should get there but I was shocked that when I did there was already quite a few people in line and I knew there were too many for me to be able to get a ticket. So I suppose I’ll try to get up earlier another time.

I continued walking and ended up at St. Paul’s Cathedral. I decided to go to the service because as I’ve learned that’s how you get free entrance to these beautiful and historic churches. The service was wonderful. They had an amazing men’s choir that filled the enormous space with echoes of perfectly blended notes. The whole inside is painted exquisitely and gold shimmers from every corner.

After the service I crossed the Thames to visit the Tate Modern: a modern art museum that is housed in the old Bankside Power Station. It is quite a cool building. That being said, I don’t think modern art is really my thing. Perhaps it is too difficult for me to wrap my head around what is so magnificent and thought intriguing about a canvas with some colors splotched on. There were some cool pieces but overall not really my cup of tea.

I walked along the West Bank and happened upon a procession of costumed actors walking into Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. They were welcoming people into the theater free of charge and since I hadn’t been in I decided to join them. The Globe is so cool, it’s an open air theater and just such a unique experience. They did a quick song and dance about something called ‘October’s Plenty’ which I gathered has something to do with London’s harvest celebration. Who knew? They invited us to follow them as they processed to Borough Market to put on the play.

When we arrived there I decided not to stay for the play, as the area they were putting it on was really crowded. Instead I decided to take advantage of being in the Market and got a delicious falafel wrap and then took the bus home.

For Monday I had signed up for an Alternative London walking tour featuring the street art of Shoreditch. The tour guide not only showed us tons of incredible street art but also explained the history of the West London area, which was really interesting. It was cool to expand my street art knowledge from beyond the infamous ‘Banksy’ and to learn some of the techniques and reasoning for street art.

I’m learning London is chock full of interesting things to do far beyond Big Ben and The London Eye. The culture is what makes this city so incredibly unique. There is always a bit of history to be learned and something new to see or experience.

I suppose now it’s time to catch up with some homework as I head into the rest of the week. Oh! I’ve also made a last minute decision to go on a trip to Edinburgh in Scotland this weekend with Arcadia.