Free time in the city

London is not New York City. When I arrived here, I thought the nightlife would be bustling with people and business. But to my surprise, most restaurants and stores close by 8pm, and stay open for 5-6 hours on Sundays. Regardless of this fact, my friends and I have been making the most of our 16 hour days. We’ve visited Kensington Palace, Windsor Castle, Hyde Park, the Royal Observatory, the London Eye, London Bridge, the Tower of London, Stonehenge, the Roman Baths, and the plays “Wicked” and “Dream girls”. The Palace, was actually smaller than I expected and reminded me of a large plantation style mansion, rather than a Palace like Buckingham.

The Castle, on the other hand, is full of regalia and gold- or at least material that sparkles just like gold. It is also the oldest working Castle in the world! Families of accomplished Captains and high-ranking officers live at the Castle in the village area right below. I thought it was fascinating to see all the activity outside of the Castle and all the restored and well-kept beauty within the Castle (quite posh!). The best part was knowing that the Queen herself lives there and many other royals come to stay for a visit. Walking through the room where the Prime Minister must come every week and report to the Queen, then humbly back out of the room while facing her, made me wonder if our President and future leaders should have a non-partisan person to which he or she should report. But I digress, with Hyde Park. It was gorgeous and since it is so large, I suggest renting a city bike for two pounds and cruising around to take in the beautifully gardened landscape. The Observatory usually has a long queue and requires all visitors to trek up a 70 degree inclined hill, but standing in both hemispheres at once is well worth it. The planetarium is also intriguing. When we visited, there was an exhibit on the sun, its death, and the solar super storms it creates.

Views from the London Eye and Tower of London were equally gorgeous and terrifying. Both had glass bottom floors that you could lay or sit on and pretend like your floating mid-air (great for social media pictures). And the plays were spectacular! I highly recommend that anyone in the U.K., especially London, pay and visit a Broadway play. The prices get as low as 20 pounds for decent seats if you book a few weeks or days in advance. I’m really going to miss this easy access to musicals and theaters in Tampa.

Stonehenge and the Roman Baths, on the other hand, peaked my curiosities within anthropology. These areas were like museums but much larger and more realistic. It was like we were coming in direct contact with ancient peoples and trying to answer the questions why and how did they do and construct what we see today. I don’t have the answers, but I do know that Stonehenge was, in my opinion, more beautiful and great for pictures backgrounds.

I also toured the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. I can’t tell you which was better because they were both amazing and showcase dense and valuable history. These tours made me even more inclined to apply to graduate programs at their Universities and a few other colleges in the U.K. I am beyond grateful to spend this length of time in London, because otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to take it all in.

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