Friday, June 17, 2016

England {Day 6}

Friday, May 20th

We had to be at the train station on New Street to catch our train at 9:30, so we all met outside of Derrik and Abby's to catch two separate Ubers. It was a little nerve-wracking when the Uber picking up me, Connor, and JW took a while to arrive and then we had to drive through rush hour traffic. Luckily, we were thinking our train left at 9:00, but it actually left at 9:30, so we had some extra time. We grabbed breakfast before heading over to our platform and grabbing some good seats on the train.

[Platform 9 3/4]

[Checking out at Platform 9 3/4]

When we got to Euston Station in London, about two hours later, we went to the hotel down the street first to drop off our bags. We made a rough plan for the day and decided to start at King's Cross to visit Platform 9 3/4! There was a short wait for the photo-op, but it was worth it and we met some people from Texas in line. Since Rachel, Shelby, JW, and I are obsessed with Harry Potter, we also did some damage in the gift shop.

[The Ritz]

[Green Park / Canada Gate]

By the time we left King's Cross, we were all starving so we popped across the street for some sandwiches at a little shop. We tried to figure out what would make the most sense for our next stop, so we decided to walk to Buckingham Palace. We ended up walking through Green Park to Canada Gate on our way to the Palace.

[Had to do some Pure Barre "in the wild" / Christina and I got too excited about the various Snapchat filters wherever we were]

Sadly, we missed the changing of the guards, but we did see one guard start walking around (marching around?) for a few minutes. We popped into a gift shop to shop, sit, and use Wifi. We tried to figure out how to get back to Westminster City on foot. Along the way, we saw a ton of places where you could rent bikes, so we decided we would rent bikes once we got over by Big Ben and the London Eye.

[Westminster Abbey]

Unfortunately, we weren't able to go into Westminster Abbey because they had closed for their service and it was too far off for us to be able to go. So we kept walking where we had been walking on Sunday afternoon, then turned down the River Thames until we found bikes to rent.

[Back to Big Ben / Back to the Eye]

[About to set off across London]

We figured if we rode along the river we would be able to find the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge. It was quite an adventure considering it was about 5:00 on Friday and we were going through a really busy part of the city. We weren't able to ride along the river for more than a few blocks, so we were just totally guessing as to where exactly we were headed. And let's not forget we were on the other side of the road!

[The Tower of London]

Eventually, we made it to the Tower of London, but parking the bikes was a whole other ordeal. It took us a while to find a station, then there were only 4 openings but we had 6 bikes. We ended up having to help a French couple rent bikes to open up 2 more spots for us.

[Tower Bridge]

By the time we got to the Tower of London, we were all pretty exhausted, but I convinced everybody to take the long way to the tube station so we could see Tower Bridge before hopping back on the tube to go to Waterloo Station.

[The Tower of London]

We met Hillary and Stephen at Waterloo Station and then walked a few blocks to dinner. We ate at Pizza Express, eating pizza in England for the umpteenth time. But it was delicious. After dinner, we split up and Stephen, Hillary, Rachel, and Shelby went back to the hotel while Connor, JW, Christina and I decided to go ride the London Eye.

[View from the bottom / River Thames]

[View from the top]

The timing ended up being perfect. We were able to get on during the sunset and we had beautiful views of the city below both in the light and after the sun went down. Christina ended up capturing a picture of me attempting to stretch out my back, but really it looks like I'm once again doing Pure Barre in London. Oh well, one can never do enough Pure Barre, I always say.

[Chair on the Eye]

[Big Ben & Parliament]

[me, Christina, Connor, JW / Back at the bottom]

Afterward, I told Christina that I wanted to take her out for one last pint while she could still drink legally. Connor and JW decided to come along as well, so we headed back down to where we had been riding bikes earlier in the day to try to find a good pub. We were walking through pretty narrow and dark alleys, but Connor and I later talked about how neither of us felt unsafe. Maybe that's naive, but it wasn't like walking through Chicago or LA or New York at night. Or even Denver, for that matter! Trying to find my way around a new city is one of my favorite things. And I love how quickly I can get some basics down. Like major streets, landmarks, directions, or big stations. But I've never felt so at ease wandering semi-aimlessly as I did in London. It was quite enjoyable.

Anyway, we finally decided on a pub and went in and had one last British pint. There was a cricket match on and we ended up talking to a handful of people, one from New Zealand, one from America, one from France, one from Wales, and a few from England. It was a lot of fun until the pub closed at 11:00. We headed back to the tube to go back to Euston Station and back to the hotel.

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