Travel Break 2 introduced me to one of my new all time favorite cities: London! My Strategic Communications class spent our study tour here, and I am already looking forward to returning one day.
As soon as our plane landed, our class went on a walking tour of city and saw Big Ben, the Parliament building, Westminster Abbey and more. I couldn’t believe I was walking throughout a city I’ve admired so much filled with rich history.
We ended the walking tour by riding the famous London Eye. We were blessed with perfect weather and got the best view of London.
When I stepped off of the Eye, two of my best friends from Elon that are studying abroad in London greeted me at the bottom, and we were more than excited to be reunited. It felt amazing to be back together and to have them show me around the city that they have fully immersed themselves in!
We went to dinner at the best Mexican restaurant (had to get my Mexican fix before going back to Copenhagen!), and then we had frozen yogurt on top of a pink double decker bus! We then walked across the bridge to see Big Ben lit up at night.
The next morning, our class went on an amazing tour of Wimbledon! My family has always loved watching Wimbledon in the summers, and I couldn’t believe I was actually in the stands of the courts that I’ve watched for so many years.
The tour was perfect. We got to go into Center Court and the surrounding courts, got to see the leader boards from the matches from this past summer, went on the hill with the Wimbledon logo, entered into the players’ facilities, and then got to see the media center and interview room! I loved getting to hear how Wimbledon markets itself as a traditional sporting and cultural event, as well as a place for true fans of the game.
I then got to experience the most overwhelmingly beautiful atmosphere of Harrods. I have heard about this iconic department store for years and finally got to explore myself. The handbag and evening gown departments particularly sucked me into spending a little bit more time in there than planned!
Olivia and Katie then took me to Buckingham Palace as the sun was setting, and then we finished off the night with famous Ben’s Cookies and a little piece of home with Whole Foods- my most missed food spot!
The next morning our class went to the Churchill War Rooms, and it was incredible. This is now one of my favorite museums! It was amazing to walk through the actual rooms with the real furniture, maps, and supplies that were in the underground rooms where Winston Churchill singlehandedly kept the morale up for all of the people in England while leading the nation throughout WWII. The museum featured his Siren Suite, letters of correspondence between him and his wife Clementine, and many more special components of his life.
Afterwards I met up with Olivia and Katie at Kinsington Palace where we went to tea at The Orangery. I’m moving here. There’s nothing better than spending time with sweet friends having tea with scones and clotted cream.
Our class ventured out to Blenheim Palace and Oxford University the next day. Blenheim Palace was gorgeous. It’s Churchill’s birthplace, as well as the home to the 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough. The gardens were beautiful, and we even got to go in the butterfly garden.
And I’ve decided I’m transferring to Oxford…it was that amazing. First, I had lunch in my favorite author’s pub of choice during his time at Oxford. C.S. Lewis and his Inkling group would meet weekly at The Eagle and Child to discuss their books and outlooks on life. I got to see the exact booth where C.S. Lewis sat and talked to Tolkien about his novels and where Tolkien was encouraged to stick with The Lord of the Rings. I wish I could have brought along my favorites, Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters, and curled up and stayed there all day.
Next we toured Oxford and I was in awe. The architecture and history was amazing. We learned about the “One Word Exam” that was the test do determine whether or not you were a Fellow of the All Souls College at Oxford. You would enter the room and were given only one word, which could be anything, and had to write as much as you could about it in 3 hours. Oxford was mysterious and I loved getting hear about all of the deep-rooted traditions.
After getting stuck in some serious traffic on the way back to London, my friend Lizzie and I raced to the West End to see Matilda, one of my favorite childhood books and movies. I had heard that seeing the musical was a “must do” in London, and I’m so glad that I did. It was extremely well done and had everyone in the theatre laughing and cheering.
The next day, the class divided up into small group and went on various site visits the companies involving communications. My group went to Shakespeare’s Globe and had the opportunity to speak with the one of the marketing managers. He shared with us the different marketing strategies that the Globe uses to market the theatre as a site seeing attraction as well as a theatre to come and enjoy high quality Shakespeare performances.
After our site visit, we went to the famous Borough Market and got to sample our way through some of the most delicious organic and local foods. I couldn’t resist a sweet potato chickpea burger.
We then crossed back over the river and saw the Tower of London. There is currently a monument called Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red in order to remember World War I. 888,246 red poppies (representing each fatality from the war) were made by ceramist Paul Cummings, and as each poppy is sold, it is “planted” outside of the tower. All of the money raised from the poppies will be split among six different charities. It was an incredible experience to see the sea of red.
And I couldn’t have gone to London without stopping by the Liberty store. Our family has a love for Liberty floral fabrics as my mom used to order Liberty from London and distribute it to stores across the US. I wandered around the store as long as I could and pointed out fabrics that I had dresses made from when I was younger.
To top off our last night, Shannon and I couldn't resist hopping off the tube at King's Cross to go see Platform 9 3/4. Somehow Harry Potter never really made it into my childhood, so why not start now when I was in London at the famous platform to Hogwarts? I bought my first ever Harry Potter book and now don't have the fact, "I've never read a Harry Potter book," to win a game of "Never have I ever."
I spent our last morning in London exploring the National Gallery where I got to admire some of my favorites paintings, including Monet’s water lilies and Van Gogh’s sunflowers.
As our final stop in London, I was in heaven as our class had high tea together at Fortnum & Mason. The Tiffany blue china was beautiful, and we were each served our own pot of delicious tea. We were brought trays and trays of finger sandwiches, scones, pastries and cakes with more trays of various jams and clotted cream. I would move to London just for the high tea experience. I felt like a princess.
What a perfect way to say, “See you soon,” to London.