Hello all! Sorry this blog post is a little late. I forgot to do it this weekend. (Oops.) But, no fear, its here now!
We are nearing my final month of London! I will be jetting back to Texas in exactly 32 days. Time sure has flown and I feel like I just got here. I am looking forward to being home, but I can tell you I will miss London.
This past weekend wasn’t too exciting, mostly because it was colder than I expected it to be. On Saturday, I had planned on exploring Olympic Park in the sunshine. But it was cold and grey and a little wet. I went up in the ‘tallest sculpture in the UK,’ the Arcelormittal Orbit. (Which is probably spelled wrong. Who gives something a name like that?) It was really neat to be up that high, but you’re so far out from anything else in London that you can only vaguely tell what each building is. You could see into the Olympic stadium, which is pretty cool, but if under construction, so the view is not great. Maybe you should just skip the weird sculpture trip and go for the Shard or London Eye or something better.
I was a bit chilly, so I grabbed lunch and did a little window shopping in the mall! Westfield, the largest mall in the UK, has a second branch in Stratford (where Olympic Park is located.) I tried on some jeans at Topshop because I’ve heard great things about them. They seem relatively affordable for nice jeans when you first look at the tag, but then realize they’re nearer to $80-$100. Darn you, exchange rate.
I made my way back to central London where I went on a ghost tour! OooOOoOoooOhhhh. (That was my spooky ghost noise. Just imagine it.) It was more a history lesson than a ‘ghost tour’, cause we stood outside the buildings and listened to our guide tell stories. (It was free, what more could you ask for.) But it was super cool and I got to see a few things you wouldn’t normally come across in tour of London.
Sunday afternoon I went on another tour with the same company (I highly recommend them – www.freelondonwalkingtours.com.) This time I did the tour titled ‘Fire, Pestilence and Plague.’ Yes, I know it sounds gross and scary, but its weird history and I LIKE it. This one was really interesting and informative. We started off at the Monument, which is a giant stone monument to commemorate the Great Fire of London, and made our way through the City of London (the actual City of London is different than the London we know, fun fact.) We saw the first pub to be rebuilt after the Great Fire, learned about the building of St Paul’s, stood in a graveyard used to bury plague victims, saw pieces of the original London Wall in the rubble of houses bombed in WWII, saw where William Wallace (of Braveheart fame) was executed, and saw the Old Bailey, a court that stands where the infamous Newgate Prison once stood.
About the City of London – it is actually its own city inside Greater London (which is what we think of as London). It is essentially the same footprint as it was during the time of the Great Fire in 1666 and only about 10000 live in it. It is self-governing and the Lord Mayor, elected by the guilds, is the head honcho. The City of London is mostly businesses and financial district. Our tour guide explained it as the City of London is who makes the money, the City of Westminster (think touristy – Big Ben, London Eye, Leicester Square) is where money is spent.
That was my weekend – I learned about a lot of dead people. So far, next weekend is unplanned. I think it would be a good time to go down to Greenwich (and meet Laurie if I remember to send her a message.) But I’m really looking forward to the weekend after, which is Easter weekend… I’m going to Ireland!
I’ll be spending four days on the Emerald Isle, staying in Dublin. I’ve booked a trip out to the Cliffs of Moher for Good Friday and hope to spend the rest of the time getting fully acquainted with Dublin and the lovely Irish people. I’ll be staying in a hostel, which is the first time I’ve ever stayed anywhere like that, so I’m a bit nervous. But it should be a great trip!