Just a forewarning, this is probably going to be quite a long post- the last four days have been jam-packed with so many things to share about!
Thursday- Trip to the Moors
After an early breakfast, our class loaded up into a bus and began our 3-hour drive to Haworth, where the Bronte sisters grew up. Since we just finished Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, it was really cool to see the home where she lived and even the exact room where she sat and wrote the novel.
Later, whoever was up for a hike went off to see the moors where Emily and her sisters walked and were inspired. It was incredibly windy, but absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunately, none of the pictures even come close to doing the landscape justice.
Back at Harlaxton that night, Helen and I packed and got ourselves ready for our big weekend adventure.
Before leaving, I prayed that God would bless our time in London, with good weather, memorable moments, and lots of laughter, and He definitely answered the desires of our hearts. He watched over us and showed His great love for us the whole time we were there, and I praise His name with thankfulness. It was absolutely the most perfect trip I could have ever hoped for.
Friday- Off to London!
We got ourselves to Grantham Station early and read some Dracula while we waited for our train to King’s Cross. Once we were there, the first stop on our list was to see Platform 9 3/4 and take the classic picture.
Then we got out our handy map (which was such a lifesaver this weekend!) and found our way to check out our first hostel in Russell Square for the night. There she is, in all her glory.
For the rest of the afternoon, we just wandered around. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with this city, it is beautiful. We ended up at Covent Gardens, a cool marketplace area known for having a lot of street performers. And then we came across one of the first highlights of our trip…
We saw a large area gated off with a line of people leading up to a Ben & Jerry’s truck. It was too good to be true- FREE ICE CREAM! We both enjoyed ourselves a cup of their newest flavor, Blondie Brownie. Mmmmm, it was delicious. While we ate and people-watched, a young little German boy came up to me and asked to take a picture with me, “a memory picture”. But of course I ended up making an idiot of myself and couldn’t understand what they wanted, and sent them running off laughing. Such a funny moment.
We walked back towards Russell Square and had late dinner at a fabulous Italian restaurant where we both snarfed down huge bowls of pasta and drank 2 pitchers of water (we were REALLY thirsty- there are no water fountains anywhere in this country!)
Once we got to our hostel, we braved the showers and tried to get some sleep.
Saturday- London Day 2
After having our lovely complimentary breakfast at our hostel, the classic toast and corn flakes, we set off for Hyde Park to drop off all our stuff at the second hostel so we wouldn’t have to carry it all day.
On our way, we got to walk through Hyde Park, one of the many beautiful parks in London. This was probably one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. The park was gorgeous, bright green grass, trees, and paths full of people on a morning run. There was this amazing fountain area with flowers and benches overlooking the river. It was so beautiful.
And then we walked down by the river, and took WAY too many pictures of these ducks that were swimming around. They were so colorful!
After checking into our hostel in Hyde Park (which was incredibly more sketchy…but hey, all part of the hostel experience, right?) we walked back to Covent Garden…with the sole intention of seeing whether the Ben & Jerry’s truck was there again. It was! We are such dedicated ice cream lovers that we waited in line in the pouring rain for it.
Totally worth it- if not for the ice cream, just to see this guy again, my Ben & Jerry’s future husband, Anthony (spotted in the upper right of this pic. My guy, you know, just laughing with some cute little kids. Yep, the creeper shot was 100% necessary)
The rest of the afternoon, we went to the National Portrait Gallery (really cool, except we knew only about 9 people of the hundreds of portraits in the gallery). We also walked to the southern edge of the city to see Big Ben, and then got caught in a afternoon shower. Stuck under the doorway of an office building, tired, cold, and hungry, I had a 30 minute mental breakdown. But then, sure enough, the sun broke through the clouds and all was well. The weather here is just as unpredictable as Chicago.
After warming up and refueling with a much needed tea break, we trudged on. About halfway back to Hyde Park, we wandered around an area filled with restaurants for a place to get some dinner. Finding this place, “Burgers and Cocktails,” we both were a little skeptical but decided a burger sounded really great and gave it a shot. And we were so glad we did! The waiters were so friendly, and the food was amazing. I got a burger with pulled pork and manchego cheese on it, and we split an order of the most amazing sweet potato fries we both have ever had. Delish!
To close the night, we walked back through Hyde Park and stopped for a good twenty minutes at the pond to watch this little cutie feed bread to the ducks and swans with his dad. He was so precious, and had the most adorable laugh as he chased the birds. Such pure joy.
Sunday- Last of London
After a really rough, eventful night at the hostel (a story for another time…) we got dressed and checked out, ready to get out of that place as soon as we could. Luckily, the rest of the day more than made up for it!
We stopped at coffee shop to get our caffeine fix and then walked to Regents Park. To anyone that may travel to London, seeing Queen Mary’s Rose Garden absolutely must be on the list of top places to see. There were so many gorgeous, blooming flowers in all different colors. We both enjoyed spending the morning walking through and taking a ton of pictures.
The rest of the day was devoted to the Camden Lock Markets. This place was overwhelming in every possible way. There were literally hundreds of shops and stands, filled with everything you could ever imagine- clothes, food, knick-knacks, scarves, jewelry, and more and more and more.
It didn’t take long for the smells of all the delicious food to get the best of us. After taking multiple laps of all the food stands to scope out our options, we both opted for the jerk chicken. My goodness, another amazing meal. Jerk chicken is now definitely on my “to-make” list for when I get home, even though I know it will never be as good as it was here.
We walked around the market for a couple hours, fighting our way through the crowds of people, and picked up a few things to bring back for our friends and family back home. However, it didn’t take long for us to reach our shopping limit, and we both decided we needed a break- the perfect opportunity for some dessert! We got THE BEST churros I had ever had. Well actually, this was my first ever churro experience, but it was love at first bite. They were deep fried, coated in cinnamon sugar, and filled with dulce de leche and chocolate. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Mmm Mmm good.
At this point, we both were pretty drained, so we decided to just get back to Kings Cross early and relax there and read until our train at 7:30.
And now we are back at Harlaxton, and it feels so good to be “home”. We got a nice warm shower and a good night’s sleep in our clean beds, and now have a full day here with nothing to do but catch up on our work, finish our reading of Dracula for class tomorrow, and unwind.
Overall, it was such an amazing weekend with Helen. I am so blessed to have her as the perfect travel-buddy. I can’t believe it is already the end of our second week and we only have three more left here in England before we head back to the states!