Exploring London Town

School is now started.  We have hit ground running and it’s not very pleasant.  Coming here to another country, and seeing all these new things has still got me stuck in vacation mode.  This semester is going to be difficult in that way.  Finding a way to balance school and travel is going to be a challenge, but it will be one I am up for.

My British studies class is strange.  Every Harlaxton student takes it, so the lectures are in the Long Gallery, with 150 students.  We start exactly at 8:30 and the lecturer (it alternates between the different British Studies professors) speaks until 9:30. Then later that day we split into our seminar groups which is sort of like a lab.  My seminar is about 25-30 students and we cover what we learned in lecture in the seminar.  Those are also an hour each.  The thing about British studies, is that I have no clue what is going on.  We are talking about kings, barons, invasions, propaganda, and a whole handful of other things I really don’t care about.  I hate having to take classes like that.  We’ll see how the first exam goes when it comes around.

All my other classes (Statistics, Nutrition, and Foundations of Kinesiology) are fairly easy.  So far so good.

As mentioned in last week’s entry, I have been placed in house Gregory.  We had our first house competition which was a scavenger hunt across the grounds and my house did not do so well.  We finished in 3rd place (out of 4).  But the next night, Tuesday, we had another house competition that was a Pub Quiz Night.  It was nice seeing all the students and some of the faculty come together in the Bistro play the quiz games, have some drinks, and enjoy themselves.  At the Pub Quiz, each house had to divide into teams of 5.  The Quiz had categories that included music, where am I, who am I, sports, and bonus rounds.  The team I was a part scored the highest and got house Gregory first place!  It felt great to get the W.

On Wednesday night, we had our first Meet-A-Family dinner.  We met our respective families in the great hall, and had a wonderful dinner in the long gallery. After dinner, me and the two other girls with the family went over to their house.  We talked about tons of things, from music, sports, theater shows, their stories from the US, the UK, places to visit, food, India, their children, just to name a few.  We decided to meet again at their house for dinner the next two Tuesdays.  They seem like two really nice people.

Thursday we had class and were also leaving for the London trip at 6:30. We got to our hotel in London at about 9 and by 9:30, Logan, Nikhil, and I had planned to go check out Piccadilly circus so we were out.  It was out first time using the tube system, but it is so convenient and easy to use, we all have only good things to say about it.  Getting on our first tube, I was last and the doors closed on me. Like literally on my body so I took a step back, and the doors shut.  I looked at my friends and other Harlaxton students we met on the way to the train with a blank face.  I was so sad.  But a second later, they opened and I got back in.  After getting to our destination, we walked around looking for dinner.  We decided on a restaurant called Byron Burger.  It was pretty good.  After our dinner, we realized the tube system closes at midnight, and that we could either go home, or walk around and explore.  We chose to walk around.  We walked from Piccadilly Circus, to the London eye, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben/Elizabethan tower, the millennium bridge and to other places we saw and wanted to check out.  Our walk back to the hotel was going to be 40 mins, but we took some detours to check out some cool places and got back to the hotel in about an hour and fifteen minutes.  We walked quite a bit that night.  Walking is a common theme throughout this trip.

Friday morning Nikhil, Logan, and I got breakfast around 9.  We then went to the British Museum where we saw a bunch of really cool things.  We could’ve stayed there a longer time, but we weren’t appreciating what we were looking at like we were supposed to. After that, we took the tube to Soho where we ate at Burger and Lobster.  This was one of the best meals of the trip, although every single meal of the trip was really good.  We all got Lobster and Chips and were very satisfied.  Post lunch, we went to the Supreme store, the real reason I wanted to go to Soho, and checked it out.  After that we walked around Soho and China town and made our long journey to Harrods and the Kensington area of London.  Harrods was really cool, and I hope to one day actually be able to shop there. After Harrods, we went back to the hotel to rest a bit before we went out again for dinner.  We decided to get chicken wings for dinner and went to a restaurant called Clockjack.  Their sauces were good, I just got the traditional buffalo, but their chicken was cooked really well.  After dinner we walked around Soho and explored that area of town before heading back to the hotel and calling it a night.  This was the longest day and the day that felt like we did the most walking.

Saturday morning, we had breakfast at the hotel and took our time starting our day.  At this point, we had already seen a lot of what we wanted to see. We decided to go to the London Bridge, London Tower, and the Tower Bridge.  After we saw these, we walked a long walk into my favorite area of London that I saw, Shoreditch.  We came here because Logan wanted to eat a Salt Beef Bagel from Beigel Bake.  It was a restaurant he saw that Action Bronson had been to on his show, Fuck That’s Delicious.  Our walk there was awesome.  Shoreditch is full of different cultures and is not at all a touristy area of London.  We stopped by this “food court” of sorts where there were stalls serving Mexican, Japanese, Polish and Colombian, Singaporean, Korean, Indian, and other different types of food.  We didn’t get any, but we definitely want to go back.  We also passed a bunch of Vintage shops which we shopped at.  At one of the Vintage Shops, I picked up a cool scarf for only 1 pound.  When we got to Beigel Bake, we saw the line go out the door, knew we were in the right place.  Logan and I both got salt beef bagels, and it was absolutely divine.  The beef was so flavorful and tender it melted in your mouth.  We liked it so much, we almost came back for dinner, but I don’t think we could’ve handled the walking. Next door to Beigel Bake was a donut shop that Buzzfeed ranked #1 in some category.  The donut we had here was also amazing.  Collectively this was the best meal of the entire trip for both of us and it was under 10 pounds!  After that wonderful lunch, we went to the vintage shops and then headed off to Abbey Road. We took our pictures there and then went to Camden to see that side of town.  After walking around Camden, we got hungry and wanted to go back to Beigel Bake, but didn’t have cash so we would have to stop by the hotel.  This was going to be a long trip and a lot of walking.  When we got to the hotel and picked up some cash, we decided we would just eat somewhere close.  We walked from our hotel to a Italian restaurant called La Porchetta where I had the best pasta I’ve ever had.  It was just such an authentic place.  Also it was under 7 pounds!  After dinner, we walked around, went to Leicester Square, and to the M&M store.  Then we walked around some more and went back to our hotel because our feet were killing us!  This day, google maps tells me we walked 8.1 miles (3 hr 46 mins of walking) and rode the subway 10 miles.

Sunday, I woke up and my feet were more sore then they have ever been.  We checked out of the hotel at 1030 and went to Hampton Court Palace with the school.  Here we just walked around and explored the palace and its grounds.  I was really impressed with the tapestries and the detail in them.

Now I’m back at Harlaxton, and very exhausted.  My google maps app is telling me that this trip I walked 18.8 miles and traveled 14.4 miles via the subway.  This trip was extremely fulfilling and I will be back to London, to Soho, to Shoreditch, and to all the places I want to go that I didn’t this trip.

Until next week,

Afsar

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