This last weekend was my final one in London, since I leave this Saturday. I’m pretty sad to be saying goodbye to good ol’ London town. But I will be back home in Texas in just 5 short days!
I took Friday off from work and headed out to Brighton, on the coast of England. It was such a nice day, even if it was a bit chilly, and I really enjoyed being at the coast. I wandered up the famous Brighton Pier and enjoyed some fish and chips on the shore. After lunch, I visited the aquarium and saw all the weird little fishies they have inside. (They had three giant sea turtles!) I rounded out the day wandering through the tiny, but very confusing Lanes and doing a little window shopping. It was nice relaxing day. Brighton isn’t a very big city and it wasn’t busy, so you didn’t feel rushed to go see and do so many things like you are in London. I would have loved to visited Brighton in the summer! I bet it is so much fun with the beach and pier.
Saturday afternoon I headed out to a pub in East London to meet the London A&M Club for our Muster. I met so many great Aggies living and working in London and surrounding areas. I even met a few current students on a Construction Science study abroad and an AGCJ alum working on her masters in London! It was so cool to meet them all and hear about their experience and their journey at A&M and all the way to London. It always amazes me at how far the Aggie network goes.
Sunday morning I headed out to Greenwich, despite probably having a cold. I took a river cruise all the way down the Thames from Westminster to Greenwich. It was neat to see London from the river. All the old wharfs, docks and warehouses have all been turned into luxury housing and hotels, but you could still see the facades of the buildings that were so important to commerce, travel and trade in London so long ago. We also passed by Sir Ian McKellen’s home and his pub, The Grapes.
My first stop in Greenwich was the Old Royal Naval College. It is a beautiful campus that opens up to the river with two domes designed by Christopher Wren. I went into the Painted Hall, a hall that is literally painted from floor to ceiling. Its very very pretty. I also saw the chapel, which is very lovely with its high carved ceilings.
I also visited the National Maritime Museum, which (nerd alert) I found pretty darn fascinating. I was really excited because they had Admiral Nelson’s coat from the Battle of Trafalgar and a piece of the flag from the HMS Victory on display. (Back story on this one – my favorite term paper I ever wrote in high school was over the British Royal Navy and Admiral Nelson. I was really excited about it.)
From there, I trekked up the hill to the Royal Observatory, where I stood on the Prime Meridian, the line that divides the world into east and west. Time actually ‘starts’ in Greenwich at the Prime Meridian. London is on Greenwich Mean Time and every time zone is + or – so many hours from GMT. For example, San Antonio, Texas is GMT -6 and Sydney, Australia is GMT +10. I also went to the Planetarium and watched a show about the universe and dark matter and I was very confused with all the science. But the stars looked pretty. That’s about all I got out of that.
My last stop was the Cutty Sark, a clipper that would ship tea and wool back from China and Australia. They had the ship raised up off her keel, so you could walk under her. You could also walk through her decks and you could see her original framework. Since the Cutty Sark is a merchant clipper, the ship was pretty small and unarmed. The below decks were used for storage and the small crew lived up on the top deck. The trip to China or Australia is a long one – could you imagine living on a teeny tiny boat for months on end with the same 30 guys?
By this time, my cold had really kicked in and I felt pretty awful. Probably because I spent the last few hours wandering around near a river in the cold so I could look at boats. I headed home to crawl into bed and take a nap until I felt better.
Despite feeling under the weather, I really enjoyed my last weekend in London! I wish I had more time to explore Greenwich, but I got to see a lot of the big attractions. And if I’m ever in the UK in the summertime, I’ll have to head south and try out Brighton in the sunshine!
My time in London is winding down to a close now. I’m staring to pack up my suitcase and I’m finishing up my last few projects at work. I said goodbye to my boss, Amy, last week, as she is out of the office for the next few weeks for her wedding. I’m really going to miss London and my job here, but I know I’ve got big things to look forward to back home in Texas! And hey, who knows, maybe I’ll get to come back someday. One of the Aggies I met said that 10 years ago when he graduated, he never thought he would be living in London or have traveled any of the places he had been to.
This trip and meeting the Aggies abroad has definitely opened my eyes to the opportunities out there and helped me learn to say yes to them. I have learned so much about myself from moving halfway across the world and have fallen in love with travel. I really hope I get to do more of it. I may or may not be looking at masters programs abroad now… 😉