Sunday, November 9, 2008


So I had the opportunity to fulfill one of my lifelong wishes last week, and it was amazing. Brienne and I got to go to London! We were there for 4 days, and I seriously loved every minute of it. Saturday was quite the experience though, it poured all day long and we were walking around the whole city with one hour of sleep. The night before was Halloween, and Brie and I went to an institute Halloween party outside of Madrid. (We were hippies haha) We tried not to stay out too late, but by the time we got home and finished packing and everything, we only had an hour to sleep. Our flight left at 6:30 so we had to be up very early. Anyways, that day we flew from Madrid to Standsted airport and took a bus into London. After we had gotten off the tube at Bayswater station, we trekked off in search of our hostel. We got lost in a matter minutes because we didn’t have a map or anything! We were getting all stressed out and walking in circles when we turned around and there was Rebbie! (Rebbie is our friend that is doing study abroad in London right now.) We were very relieved and together we found our hostel. Our hostel was…..ok. It definitely wasn’t pretty or fancy, but hey it was cheap! For the first night, we got the “suite” room, which consisted of two bunk beds and a bathroom with a shower in the room. It really wasn’t that bad. We had two Japanese roommates, and they had declared the bottom beds so Brie and I got stuck on the top. It was quite interesting getting up and down of those beds with random people below you. And the best part was that my bunk bed was seriously the squeakiest thing ever invented. I could hardly breathe without it moaning and groaning underneath me. It was very annoying to say the least. I had to lie perfectly still while I slept or I would wake up everybody in the room. It was fantastic. Anyways back my day….

On Saturday, we saw many cool sights and walked all around the city. First, we went to Leicester Square to buy tickets for the broadway Momma Mia! and also went to Trafalgar Square and hung out with the huge lion statues. We got to go inside the National museum where we saw paintings by Van Gough, Rembrandt, Velázquez, and many more. (I can’t remember all the names… sorry!) For lunch, we went to Borough market where there were hundreds of little tents and tables set up of every kind of food there you can imagine! We also saw the London Bridge (which is actually the ugliest bridge there, nothing special about it at all) and all of the other really pretty bridges. My favorite one was probably the Tower Bridge. We walked alongside the Thames river all the way to the House of Parliament and the famous Big Ben. We also saw the London Eye and the Globe Theatre. We also got to see Westminster Abby, although we didn’t go in. We were all tired, wet and cold so we went to Rebbie’s favorite cupcake place called The Hummingbird and got a delicious nutella cupcake. Then we went back to the BYU Center where she lives and all three of us took a nap on the top bunk of her twin sized bunk bed. It was great. That night, we all went and saw the new James Bond movie!! And yes, I know its not out in the US yet J. It was very good, I recommend it to all. We just barely missed the premiere which all the actors and Prince William attended in Leicester Square, that was a bummer.

The good news about Saturday was it was the only day the weather was awful. On Sunday, it was a very nice day and Brie, Rebbie and I walked through all the parks all the way to Buckingham Palace. We walked through Kensington Park, Hyde Park, Green Park and James Park.

They were all so gorgeous! The leaves had turned red, yellow and orangeand it was beautiful! The parks there really are amazing, and there were tons of people out there on a Sunday stroll just like us. Buckingham Palace was beautiful as well, and the British flag was flying which meant the Queen was there. After that, we all went home and got ready for church. Rebbie has a calling in a Spanish ward there, but Brie and I really wanted to go to church in English for once, so we went to the singles ward. Sadly, we got lost and were very late to Sacrament but it was still nice to understand some of church for a change! After church we went back to the BYU center to eat dinner with all the study abroad students. It was very nice to be with people who spoke English and were members of the church! We had a lot of fun and then we went on another walk around London to see the city all lit up at night. It was amazing! I really love that place.

Sadly, Rebbie went on a trip to Wales and was gone on Monday and Tuesday, but we were very lucky to have Brienne’s cousin and his wife take us around those days. On Monday, we met up with Brittan and Hilary and their cute little baby Nora. While Brittan studied, the rest of us went out sightseeing again. We ran over to Buckingham Palace and made it in perfect time to see the infamous “changing of the guards.” The guards march up the street playing music and enter the Palace courtyard and rotate the guards on watch. We also got up close and personal with some of the guards near the Palace, but they weren’t very good at the “no moving” rule. We explored more of the city, including the British Museum. That was seriously the coolest museum ever! I could spend days and days in that place. It had so many different artifacts from all over the world dating from thousands and thousands of years ago. We saw mummies and an Easter Island head and the goatee of the Sphinx of Egypt. There were Buddha’s and ancient Aztec artifacts and the real Rosetta Stone. It was pretty amazing that so many valuable things from all over the world were in this one museum in London. After the British museum, we all met up and had lunch together and after that Brie and I went to explore Harrods. For those of you who don’t know what Harrods is, it is quite possibly the biggest department store in the entire world. It was the most insane place I’ve ever been! They have everything you could ever imagine there, including a pet shop complete with little doggy dressing rooms and thousand dollar clothes. Ridiculous. In the children’s section, there was designer everything (like Gucci, Dior, etc.) and of course there was a huge section dedicated to the most extravagant and expensive jewelry. I even found a fur coat there that was more than £54,000. That’s in pounds people, not dollars. And keep in mind that it takes almost 2 dollars to make one pound…. It was outrageous!! I felt privileged just to touch the darn thing. Brittan made a very good comparison of Harrods. He said it was like the “Great and Spacious Building” and I couldn’t think of a better way to describe it. It was pretty awesome though, I could go on and on about all the crazy things we found there but I'm sure it would bore you to tears. Just promise me you will all have to go experience it yourself one day, ok? After our adventure at Harrods, we got to go see Momma Mia on broadway! It was amazing! After a long day of sightseeing we got in our nice, comfortable, quiet top bunks and rested up for another wonderful day.

On Tuesday, we went to the Tower of London. It is a really old castle where many members of the royal families used to live. It also holds the Crown Jewels, the most amazing collection of jewels in the world. We started off by joining in a tour by the legendary “beefeaters” who told us a lot of random but interesting facts about the castle. We then went to the main attraction, the Crown Jewels. In that display, they have the 1st and 2nd Stars of Africa, the largest diamonds ever cut. They also had many huge rubies, sapphires and pearls. I really liked seeing all the old crowns and scepters used by royalty back in the day. We spent a couple more hours exploring all around the castle and its grounds, it was gorgeous. Then we went to do what we do best… shopping! We shopped up and down Oxford street, the most famous shopping street in London. We also explored Piccadilly Circus and other tourist attractions. Then we met Hilary and Brittan for dinner and just laid low the rest of the night. Our flight left very early the next morning, so we were up before the sun was again getting ready to travel back to Madrid.
Overall, it was a wonderful experience. I was so glad that I got to go. It was a very nice change to be able to speak English again! I could ask people questions and get help when I needed it, it was amazing. I could also understand what was going on around me for a change!! It was funny because it took me a while to get out of my “Spain” mode and speak to people again. I usually just node and smile a lot here, but in England I could actually speak to people. At first, I would still say “si” and “gracias” to almost everybody because I was so used to just speaking in Spanish. So coming back to this crazy foreign country was quite a transition. Well that's all on my trip to London, I promise I'll be better at keeping up with this thing!