Posts Tagged ‘london eye’

The Tower and the Eye

Originally posted mid-October

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For all of September, I was nervous about going out into the city on my own. Although I have walked around cities on my own before, London is far bigger than what I’m used to. However, after talking with a friend about what he does on his own, I decided to try venturing out myself. I started on a Sunday with a trip to the Tower of London. London has a great program of walking tours that you can simply show up at and pay for. For the tour of the Tower of London, I was in a large group with a tour guide who spoke a lot louder than I was expecting. One minute he was quietly discussing tickets with an elderly couple, and the next thing I know, I hear “ALRIGHT THEN. IS EVERYBODY HERE? GOOD, WE CAN BEGIN.”

Anyway, despite his voice, the guide himself was very good and I learned a lot about the Tower. After the tour ended, we were free to see the many cool things in the Tower itself, most famous of which being the crown jewels (also the one with the longest line). The crown jewels themselves were really cool. There were a lot of golden plates and spoons. The really valuable things, like the large diamonds, were displayed on a conveyer belt.   I just rolled right past them.

One of the more underrated attractions at the Tower are the ravens. Apparently if all the ravens are gone from the Tower, the kingdom will collapse, so they keep a few around. They are like crows, but they are huge.

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After the Tower, I decided to walk five minutes over to Tower Bridge. Tickets for the bridge are really cheap and totally worth the view.

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Of course, walking around the city alone can be fun, but sometimes you want to do stuff with friends. While harder to schedule, this is usually worthwhile. Almost a week after my little trip to the Tower of London, I got a group of friends together and we headed to the London Eye.

It was a sunny day, perfect for seeing the entire city. We all got our tickets ready and headed onto the moving capsule. While the views were incredible, I remembered about a quarter of the way up that I have a slight fear of heights. But I didn’t let that bother me and got a bunch of awesome pictures!  The only other problem was that the sun was in the way of Big Ben, so a lot of my pictures were dark or I had to crop around my hand, which was shading the camera.

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After our fun, we walked around the area for a bit before heading to a pub for some food and then back the University.

In conclusion, while having friends to go places is a lot of fun, also don’t be afraid to do things on your own. You may not enjoy it as much as being with friends, but you will still have fun, and it’s a lot easier to schedule.

Being a Tourist

21st May 2013:

Well I’m officially done with exams! I finished last Thursday, and now I’ve got just under three months until I return home. This week I had a friend from home visiting, which gave me the perfect excuse to be a tourist. I am currently a terrible tourist – I knew I was going to be in London for a long time, so I just kept putting things off. I still haven’t seen Big Ben or the London Eye – but today I finally went to Buckingham Palace. It was a nice short morning trip, and we went to see the changing of the guard. We didn’t stay for the whole thing, instead opting to head to the Natural History Museum.

I love this museum. It’s gigantic, and there’s so many exhibits. We only went through maybe 5 or 6 of them, and we were still in there for four hours. I’m definitely going to go back when I’ve got some more free time!

14th June 2013:

Well almost a month has passed and I completely forget to finish writing this! After Victor left I was busy packing and getting ready to move out of halls into my new house in Stepney Green. Now that classes and exams have officially ended I’ve doubled my hours at work! Which is great, money-wise! I only get a couple days off every week now though, so we’ll see how much touring I’ll actually get to do.

Currently my plans for summer mean I’ll be quitting my job at the end of July, so that I’ll have two weeks in August to travel a bit and enjoy myself in London. I’m planning on going to Sziget, a festival in Hungary (of course, this depends on my paycheck in July!) For now, I’m set to work straight through until August, and I probably won’t take any time off other than to do the occasional day trip.

I’ll be back in Easton, PA by the 15th of August, and then it’s back to Lafayette!

New Year’s Fireworks

I came to London several days before Queen Mary opened for the semester for the sole purpose of watching the fireworks at the London Eye. Not knowing anybody in London, I stayed at a youth hostel for a few days, and went to Westminster bridge with a few people I met at the hostel. The firework show was excellent, and the view from the bridge was excellent!

The London Eye four hours before the big show.

The London Eye in the midst of the fireworks.

 

To any students considering a spring semester study abroad at Queen Mary, I would suggest coming to see the fireworks unless you have some specific New Years plans. It was a great cultural experience as well as a wonderful show. The days between the fireworks and Queen Mary opening offer a prime time to explore London — visiting Bond/Oxford street in time for the tail-end of the Christmas displays. It also gives you time to learn how to travel London — and if you follow Melanie’s three-part guide to London’s public transit, you will be set for the rest of your time here.

A great thing about wandering through London is the sheer number of museums, art galleries, and locations of historical significance you pass through. When my friend and I embarked from Waterloo on a quest to find Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a wonderfully historic pub on Fleet Street, we ended up passing all sorts of sights — including Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey to name a few. I honestly cannot extol the virtues of wandering through London enough, it is one of the best ways to get to see the city as a whole rather than visiting only specific sites and missing the big-picture view of the city.

As a last note, if you are interested in a truly unique and historical dining experience, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is a magnificent place to visit. It was first built in 1538, and rebuilt after the Great Fire in 1666. The premises have not been modernized in the way most old pubs have, so it has many small bar areas over several floors, low ceilings, and somewhat cramped quarters. However, it is a great taste of a pub experience in the 16th or 17th century.

-S. Quinlan Arlington, 14 March 2013

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