We didn’t technically go Paris to London, there was actually some weeks in between where we chilled out in Lyon with Claudia’s host family, did some traveling to Provence, Monaco, Chamonix, quick stop in Switzerland- Geneva/Lucerne, making our way back to Lyon before kicking it off to London. Don’t hate me for being the laziest of people right now, but that trip was more of a family affair. We traveled it via car with Claudia’s host family and parents who were also on their own European adventure at the time. It was wonderful and something we wouldn’t have experienced without their help (we saw lots of cute villages and small French landmarks that I had never known existed), but despite all that, it sort of seems rather separate from my journey. We weren’t in the big bad unknown quite yet and doesn’t hold the overall impact of bracing yourself for the unexpected.
London was kind of like going home. Probably more so for Claudia and Me rather than Nay or Olly, since we had been absent from the merry old land of Oz for nearly 4 months at this point. Australia is England’s late child and the readily available cadbury chocolate and wider range of food options was far too comforting. Plus, people spoke English, so that was nice. Overall it just felt widely more western and I think we were in desperate need of that.
I’d heard so many mixed things about London. People complain about all the wet weather, but a girl who we later met in Madrid perfectly described it as “squeaky clean from all the rain” and that’s pretty much been stuck in my head ever since. We were fortunate that it didn’t rain while we were there and was nothing but a frigid, early October breeze.
We managed to get ridiculously lost between Kings Cross Station and our hostel, walking in circles for over an hour and still managing to ask no one for directions, despite the lack of a language barrier. After checking into a clean, chain hostel that was currently undergoing renovations, we got lunch at the falafel place around the corner- which we had walked past three times earlier during our confused state.
We kept the hop-on-hop-off bus tours specifically for the historical and cultural enriched cities; London being one of them. So this activity immediately sucked up two of our days, but it was definitely to our advantage since I have never learnt more about a city, let alone an entire country, just from taking continuous loops on a bus tour. It probably managed to be so educational due to the live tour guides on offer. All individually hilarious and sharing original spins on different pieces of information, forcing us to snicker amongst one another “pfft… well, that’s not what afro guy said earlier today…”
Majority of the interest I held for London had far too much relation to the monarchy. I’m someone who is an absolute sucker for a royal wedding (yes, I wanna look like Kate at my own wedding) and I completely idolise Princess Diana, because well, she’s fabulous. After going to Buckingham Palace and watching an extremely boring changing of the guards ceremony, plus listening to endless facts about Queen Victoria on the bus tour, I spent much of my spare time in the hostel googling facts about the royal family. Self-education whilst in London, snaps for me.
The highlight of my time in London was actually spent in Watford, because that’s where the greatest Warner Bros. Studio Tour of all time is held- Harry Fucking Potter. Tickets aren’t overly cheap, and neither is the train there, but boy was it worth it. I’d been to the Harry Potter exhibition in Sydney, where they had majority of the artefacts from the film. This, however, was something else. I saw the rooms and sets, filled with every real prop that they used in the movies. Daniel Radcliffe touched that cereal box (most likely) and he DEFINITELY sat in that chair in the Gryffindor common room. I walked up and down Diagon Alley, did some window shopping and the purchased my very own honey dukes chocolate- which lasted the first 5 minutes on the train trip home.
London basically made me just want to walk around in a trench coat, shop for hours, read books in the parks when it wasn’t raining, drink lots and lots of alcohol and be able to say “mate” without sounding like a complete bogan.