England in a Nutshell

So I realize I’m a bit behind on my blogging but the past week and a half has been an absolute whirlwind of traveling! The last couple days of my time in “the countryside” were SO much fun! I learned how the British party, as the family invited me to stay for their son’s birthday party. The night started off with me opening a champagne bottle with a sword if that’s any indication of how the rest of the night went 😉 aka too much fun.

The next morning, I took a little longer to wake up than usual and then they took me to go experience what we might call the fair in America. It was a bit field full of animals on show, being sold, and a small area for rides and such. Luckily we were already almost back to the car when the classic London weather decided to show itself, and we hustled back to the car as it started pouring. Before long we were back at the house and I was packing my bags up to hop back on the train to London to meet up with Brooke and the rest of my Contiki travel group! I got on the train and then hopped on the Tube, and finally made it to the hotel, and once I was checked in and found our room, it was about time for Brooke and me to head down to meet with the rest of the group for info session and dinner.

Our night started off with dinner with a new friend from New York, Su. And after dinner, our guide took us all on a walk about 20 minutes from our hotel to Covent Gardens, to a well-known bar, Punch & Judy’s. While most of the group soon left as they wanted to find the club Joel (our Tour Manager had pointed out earlier), Brooke and I just wanted to find some live music and a drink. Once we had enjoyed both, we headed back to our hotel in a bicycle-driven “cab.” Our first full day started off bright and early with 1-hour ride around the city to check out all the highlights (like Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s, and more!), then a 2-hour ride out to Stonehenge, which was pretty awesome. Luckily we had audio guides which gave such a detailed history of the many theories of why the stones are there today. It’s amazing to think of how they were able to carry such enormous stones with zero of the modern technology we have today. So, of course, my favorite theory is aliens…. 😉

Our next stop was Bath! I had been to Bath years before as an 8.5-year old when my parents brought us to England, so I had vague memories of staying in a B&B in Bath and seeing the Roman Baths, but it was amazing to come back and experience everything all over again. Bath was an adorable city and I’m so glad we had the chance to visit! I barely had enough time to catch (and perform in) a street show, then check out the baths for a few hours, and grab a bite to eat before it was back on the coach for the 3-hour ride back to London. Once we were back in London about 745pm, we took another short ride around and saw the House of Parliament, Westminster Abby, and a few others.

Then it was quickly back to the hotel to change before heading out to grab Indian food for dinner. We went with a big group of people, a few of which we had met the first day, a few we’d met that day, and even two new girls who had their luggage lost so they weren’t able to make it to Bath & Stonehenge. But we all had a very fun night and even got to experience some of the London nightlife! The next day was one of the craziest days of Sightseeing I think I’ve ever had. We started off bright & early with breakfast and basically took off running. Brooke and I, along with our friend Su went to go see the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey before heading to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard. Of course, it was too rainy and it ended up being a teeny ceremony with little show since they didn’t bring the band or anything out. After waiting around a while, we finally found my friend we had been waiting for, and we all went off to meet up with my friend from university, Katrina, who currently lives in London. We got to catch up, and then she took us around to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery before leaving. Then Su, Brooke, and Chris and I all headed to the Tube to go walk across Tower Bridge and then all along the water where we found a beautiful church, old bars along the river, Shakespeare’s Globe Theater (which we couldn’t go into without a show or a tour), and a break at Starbucks to find our bearings.

All the while it was raining and our adventure finally ended at the Tate Modern Museum, where we spent a little time before walking on the large pedestrian bridge across the Thames, walking past St. Paul’s Cathedral, and heading back to the hotel to grab dinner quickly before heading out to see Mamma Mia! The show was SO much fun to watch, and I sang along almost the whole time (mostly to myself of course as I didn’t want to bother the other showgoers.) Then it was time to head back to the hotel and back up before leaving bright and early the next morning…

More to come! Mackenzie


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