Less than 48 hours in London - A St. Patrick’s Day to Remember
For St. Patrick’s Day my friends who are studying abroad at the same time as me all decided that it would be awesome to meet up in London and hang out, see the sights!
Wednesday, 16 March, 2011: Leave for London
It was the perfect plan. Take the bus to the Victoria coach station, meet up with Pam, take the Undergroud to King’s Cross Station, take the train to Hatfield. But no, life never goes according to plan. My bus got caught behind a huge car accident and stayed parked on the freeway for just over an hour and a half. Needless to say I got a lot of my work done that I had brought with me for the ride, but Pam and I weren’t able to meet up and travel together.
Victoria Train/Underground Station was CRAZY when I finally got there! I think I arrived just as many business people were on their way home from work because there were a ton of people in business wear walking with great purpose to different platforms in every direction. I am pretty sure I narrowly avoided being trampled about 4 times trying to find the Victoria Underground Station. I wish I took a picture to show you all the mass chaos that I found myself in the middle of while I was there.
Finally on the Tube, I got off at Kings Cross and found my way to Platforms 9, 10, and 11 and discovered that I had about 30 minutes until the next train to Hatfield. What would you do if you had 30 minutes to kill and were at Platforms 9, 10, and 11 at King’s Cross Station.
Yes, I did find Platform 9 and 3/4 that night, and like a lame-o, had a family who was also there taking pictures of their daughters take one of me as well. A little embarrassing looking back on it now, but oh well!
Once I finally caught my train, I was off to Hatfield! So excited to finally meet up with KJ, Nina, and Pam who were waiting for me. Only one more obstacle stood between me and my arrival, a taxi from the train station to campus! Which doesn’t sound like a daunting task unless you are me and make such basic things complicated. Nina tells me that the cab was silver and of course there are 4 silver cabs there. One of which, the one I needed, I didn’t even seen until it was about to leave me there. But I did manage to catch it, and of course I had to get the driver that would try to bribe me to come back to Hatfield with an iPad purchased from America so he could save some money. Let’s just say it was a long 5 min cab ride.
After 7 and a half hours of travel I finally arrived at Hatfield and jumped on Nina, KJ, and Pam as soon as I saw them! It had been a long day, and I missed those girls so much as it was, it was just amazing to see them! After about 10 minutes of settling in KJ’s room, it was off to dinner at Sab’s place! It was so great seeing Sabrina! I think it is very cool that she is still rowing out here.For dinner Sabrina was preparing Lasagna, Cheesy Garlic Bread, and Green Beans.
bleh, green beans
Lasagna - demolished
I love her cooking, and I was stuffed after dinner. But she also was making Chocolate Croissant Rolls from scratch for dessert! DELICIOUS! We left Sabs satiated and sleepy. Once the air mattresses were acquired and blown up it was time to get some sleep for the long day ahead!
Thursday, 17 March 2011: St. Patrick’s Day
Woke up to a phone call in KJ’s room from Arlene saying she had arrived in King’s Cross Station! It was 7:30 am. Sleepily KJ and I got up and got ready while waiting for another call from Arlene saying she was at Hatfield Station so we could call her a cab to campus. We met her near the same spot Nina, KJ, and Pam had met me only 12 hours previous.
Around 10:30 we started our day and met Caitlin near one of the main taxi pick-up spots on campus. After much hugging and greeting we jumped into a 6 person taxi to Hatfield Station! Once there we bought our all-day, group rate tickets so we could travel above and under ground all day, in all the zones. After figuring out all the money stuff from everyone we went up to the platform and waited for the train.
Pam, Caitlin, Arlene, Nina and KJ waiting for the train
KJ and I waiting for the train
It was a bit cold out on the platform after a super fast train came rushing by!
Finally made it on the train!
From the train we stopped at Platform 9 and 3/4 for pictures! This time it wasn’t as embarrassing for me, so I had a little more fun with it!
And got a picture of the whole group while we were there!
After taking those pictures we immediately jumped on the Tube to go have lunch at Nando’s! It is such an amazing restaurant full of spicy food! Mmmmm spicy food. After we had our fill, we walked across the street to KJs favorite coffee place. Arlene, KJ, and I tried KJ’s favorite, a Flat White, while Nina, Pam, and Caitlin sufficed with Mocha’s and Hot Chocolate respectively. What I really liked about the place is that they made cool designs in the foam for all of the drinks!
After our long stop for food and drink in SoHo we felt it was time to do a little sightseeing! Back to the Underground we went!
We found it to be a bit windy, which was surprising since we weren’t anywhere near the trains…
First stop of the London Drinking/Sightseeing tour was London Tower. Lucky for us the Tube exit led us right to an area that gave us a view of the Tower!
From the over look we went into the British Navy Memorial, there was a lot to see, and all of the dedication to those Navy men was so great! But, being who we were we also found some great places to take some silly pictures while still trying to respect it’s true purpose for being there.
From the Memorial it was on to explore and head towards the River Thames and the Tower Bridge. On the way we saw more of the London Tower, the Gherkin, and even a nice lookout spot to take pictures of the Tower Bridge.
More of the London Tower
The gang with the Tower Bridge!
We walked a little further and then found ourselves on the Tower Bridge, walking over the River Thames! It was a somewhat short walk, but it had some amazing views!
Once on the other side of the bridge it seemed like we stepped in to the 21st century side of London. Almost all of the buildings we passed seemed to be made of glass and steel. There was a little bit of nature, but not a whole lot.
From there we walked down an alley way and ended up in what looked like WWII era buildings with propaganda posters and everything. That moment is my total definition of London, seems like you take a turn and you find yourself in a different era surrounded by a completely different atmosphere. Truly only an essence that UK and European countries could have since they have been around for so much longer than the US. Plus, in the US I feel like people try to plan out cities better, which is good because it makes sense, but bad because there is no room for many flaws. Flaws that give cities and towns character.
After some wandering we figured out where we wanted to go next, St. Paul’s Cathedral! The Cathedral where Charles and Diana were married not terribly long ago. Unfortunately it isn’t the place where William and Kate will be married, but that is not important. St. Paul’s is unfortunately not open for touring, unless you pay a very nice price, but even from what little bit I could see I knew that I would love to come back and get a in depth view, maybe even go to the sightseeing deck above the main dome.
Across the street from the Cathedral
Different views of the Cathedral that we saw!
From St. Paul’s we walked to and over the Millennium Bridge, the one from the Harry Potter movie! Nothing too special about it, but it did give us some great views of the Tower Bridge and St. Paul’s.
We walked back over the bridge and headed to our first Pub stop of the day/evening, The Toucan. KJ, Arlene, Pam and I ordered a pint of Guinness and Caitlin and Nina ordered a Cider and Black. It was nice to slow down a bit and just enjoy the company of my friends around me while enjoying a beer! :D
We toasted to a great rest of the day, finished our drinks and began the search for The Humming Bird Bakery, supposed home of some super tasty treats! I bought a Cheesecake Brownie, Pam got a slice of Red Velvet Cake, and Arlene and Nina each had a cupcake.
From the Hummingbird Bakery we moved on to our second Pub of the day/evening. Not quite sure what it’s name was, we just kinda walked in and bought our drinks. No stopping to think about it, it was St. Patrick’s Day after all.
I also found a pretty awesome hat to help me celebrate the occasion!
From this pub we went on the Tube and arrived at Ben’s Cookies just at the sun was starting to set. The cookies looked so good that I bought two and shared one with Pam! I bought Milk Chocolate and Oatmeal Rasin. I highly recommend this place to anyone who has the chance to visit London. SO GOOD!
From Ben’s we jumped on the Tube again and got off right underneath Big Ben! We walked out onto the bridge and took tons and tons of pictures of Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, and the London Eye before we actually walked over to the London Eye so we could ride it!
The London Eye, had green lights on it for the holiday!
Houses of Parliament and Big Ben in St. Steven’s Tower
Out of everything we could do in London, the only thing on my list was to go on the London Eye and see the entire city of London. I am so glad that we decided to do it at night, because the way the buildings were lit up and how the outline of the river could be seen from a 360 degree view was breathtaking
Plus, it was a half hour ride, so you know that we had some fun in there! I am glad the other people really didn’t mind our antics!
After the amazing ride on the London Eye, it was safe to say we were SO HUNGRY! After taking a quick trip to see the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey closer up we bee-lined it to find a place to eat. We found a place called Pizza Express, and it just felt good to sit down and relax. I didn’t even realize that we had been on the go for pretty much 8 hours straight with little to no sitting. In the words of KJ, “my dogs were barkin’!” I think somewhere through out the day I tweaked my ankle because after that point if I put pressure on my ankle in certain ways there was a slight pain around my ankle area.
We all bought a personal size pizza and every one of us demolished it completely! We kinda forgot to have a legitimate meal after Nando’s until our stop at Pizza Express. After dinner some of us caffiened up (KJ, Arlene and I) and then we were on our way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
The main focus of the evening, a place KJ was looking forward to all day, was Waxy O’Connors. This was the largest, most popular Irish Pub in London. Needless to say, it was PACKED!
We found a place on the upper level of the place that wasn’t as packed, but it was still pretty crowded. We tried to stray from there once and just found ourselves caught in the waves of people you see above, so we immediately went back to the upper level and spent most of the night there. KJ and I bought what was called a “Baby Guinness,” which we thought was like a half pint of Guinness. To our surprise, we found out that we paid for a 4 pound shot that was comprised of some kind of liqueur and Bailey’s. It was delicious, but SO EXPENSIVE! Our next purchase was made so we could be on the safe side, Cider and Black.
Throughout the night they played some pretty decent music, amid the Flogging Molly and other classic Irish Tunes we heard some “Livin’ on a Prayer” and Grease Music. After about 5 guys over the age of 27 hitting on us American girls, we decided to try another place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
After literally shoving our way through the crowds to get to the Exit of the Pub we ended up finding a Night Club across the street, didn’t catch the name. I think most of us were happy to be in more of our element, dancing to some good remixes of some pretty popular hip hop songs. I know that I was happy to be dancing! I really wish we had found that place earlier in the evening because it seemed like we were just getting into it when all of the house lights turned on. We didn’t know that when we entered the club it was pretty close to closing… total bummer.
The night only seemed to get more interesting from there. Turns out the entire underground was closed for the night, meaning we had to find another way to get to King’s Cross Station. We though bus was a pretty good idea, till we figured out that any bus we took would require a transfer and it seemed like too much work to go 2 miles up the road. We settled on taking a taxi, which was a good plan, except that all of the taxis that we hailed could hold a maximum of 5 people - we had six. After a few failed attempts to hail a taxi van, we just decided to split up 3 to a cab and meet at King’s Cross.
Finally at King’s Cross Station, we walked over to Platforms 9, 10, and 11 only to find that the last train had left the station at 1:36am - it was 1:56am. This meant that we were stuck in London until the next train out in the morning, which turned out to be 5:22am. For about 3 1/2 hours we waited at St. Pancras International train station across the street from King’s Cross. The first problem to fix, for more myself than anyone else, was finding a bathroom. Once that was accomplished the next big problem was that due to there being two gaping voids in the entrance way of St. Pancras we had to find a place to sit that wasn’t directly hit by the wind and cold of the early morning London weather. We found some fairly comfortable chairs around the corner of an area in the center of the station, and here we stayed bundled up and close together trying to stay warm.
Finally, we had to figure out what the heck to do for 3 1/2 hours. Being the girls that we were, we found enough to talk about to keep us occupied for almost the entire time. It also helped that Caitlin had her iPhone with music on it!
Finally 5am rolled around, we went to the 24 hour Starbucks bought some food and a warm drink. We then bought our tickets for the Hatfield train and went to the platform. Thankfully our train to Hatfield wasn’t stopping at every stop so the trip to the Hatfield station didn’t seem terribly long. From the station we called another taxi and were dropped off at the campus. We said our goodbyes to Caitlin, who lives off campus, and then proceeded to walk to the dorms. To our dismay, daylight was breaking as we walked.
Finally back at the dorms, we all pretty much passed out. It was 6:30am.
Friday, 18 March 2011: Leaving London
My coach left at 1pm from the Victoria Coach Station, so I was up again at 10am to shower and pack my stuff so I could catch a cab and catch the 11:23am train from Hatfield. It is kinda sad that I was at the same train stations within 5 1/2 hours.
Thankfully, Pam decided to cut her trip to London short and traveled with me the whole way from Hatfield to the Victoria Coach station. Both of us were pretty much in a zombie-like daze for the entire trip. It was really nice to have some company though, it made the trip a lot better. Finally at the coach station, I bought some food for breakfast/lunch while Pam changed her ticket. When she was done we said our goodbyes and I headed to my terminal to wait for my bus.
It should be pretty obvious that I didn’t do any work on the bus ride back to Cardiff, I totally passed out and slept for most of the trip. Once back in Cardiff, I caught the bus back to campus and it happened to be the same bus Scott, Kate’s boyfriend, caught after work and Emily and Cristina caught after grocery shopping! They all took one look at me and determined that I must have had an interesting time in London.
Once back at the dorms I filled in the girls on my trip, had some dinner, watched the Glee episode that I missed, and played with my pictures. Then it was off to bed for some well needed sleep.
The jist of my trip to London is that I had a St. Patrick’s Day to remember, and I am stoked that I got to spend it with the people that I did. It made the trip that much more epic! Definitely one for the books, to be passed on year after year. I can see it now, “Do you remember that St. Patrick’s Day in London… oh yeah I do!”
Saturday, 19th March 2011: Recovery
Just so you all know how much that crazy day affected me, I didn’t wake up until 5pm this morning. I slept for almost 16 hours. Needless to say, I will be up late getting the work I need to do done! Wish me luck as I try to get it all finished before church at 11am tomorrow! :D