London is officially my favorite big city!
Getting there- I took Easy Jet, a budget european airline similar to Southwest in the states. The people are board were british and gave me great advice about the city, and I was even able to buy my oyster pass (prepaid card for the tube, bus, etc) and my train pass into London (I flew into Gatwick, south of London). They even sell starbucks now on planes :) The first thing someone said to me once I got to the airport was a guy in the store who said "You smell positively gorgeous! What are you wearing?" I just laughed because I had just put some Bath and Body works anti-bacterial gel on my hands...
I took the train to Victoria Tube/ Train station. The walk to the hostel was only about 5 minutes or so, and it was very easy to find (I even forgot the directions at home!). Luckily, I have also just purchased my first hard-core backpacker's bag, and was able to fit 5 days worth of clothes in there! On the way home was a different case, with stuff hanging out of it. The hostel was a cute set of buildings in a popular/expensive area of London. I think Elton John used to live in the same neighborhood.
Expensive! London's currency is called the pound, which is similiar to the euro. Everything seems pretty cheap because of the small numbers (a meal is like 8 or so pounds), then you realize you almost have to double that for dollars... The famous double decker bus tour was 21 pounds (actually it was 25, but the guy said he i was nice so he gave me a discount!), however, you can hop on and off at all the wonderful stops, there are live guides giving you information, it included a boat cruise, and your ticket was good for 24 hours. The pictures do a great job showing where all the bus took you.
I saw Wicked the first night, which was my third time seeing it. I chose Wicked because it's one of my favorites, one of the only ones with a ticket available, and the theatre is across from the Victoria station. Then Friday evening we saw Billy Elliot, which won the Tony for best musical this past year. The show is about miners on strike during the 80's in northern England, and about a boy who learns ballet and is a way out of his poverished town. Amazing dancing and acting. There were many children in the play, all under the age of 13 probably, who were great- cracked me up how much they cursed during the show as well.
Halloween- We went to a part of London called Camden Street, know for its more 'alternative' vibe. Pictures explain most of it. One of the highlights, however, was I saw a guy wearing an OSU t-shirt and had to yell O-H! I, of course, got the I-O back :) This was the first time since I've been in europe that I've seen a random person wearing OSU gear!
Oxford Street- one of the busiest streets in London, and it was officially christmas shopping season! Selfridges and Topshop were definitely great highlights. Topshop is kinda like a giant Forever 21, only more funky clothes. It was huge, and I thought I had lost Patrick and Renee forever at one point. Because my Ugg boots were stolen out of my suitcase I was delighted when I saw they actually sold them at Topshop, however, they were 220 pounds!!!! That's almost $400! Needless to say, those can wait... I found a few Christmas gifts for certain people back home as well ;)
People I've talked to that have been to London say its pretty cool, or that it's a lot like New York City. I really fell head of heels for the city. It has some of my favorite history there, that european uniqueness feel, nice people, ENGLISH, free tap water, comforting american influence, and amazing culture in general. I was also lucky enough to have some great company! Thanks Patrick for explaining to me so many things! There were many more differences between British (real english as Patrick says) and American English, such as...
- Chips= french fries -Quid= bucks (as in money)
-Bog= toilet - Football= soccer
- Jacket potato= baked potato -Fag= cigarette
- Bird= girl -Crisps= chips
-Pudding= desert -Queue= Line
Anyways.... great memories, great trip!! Enjoy!