125 days in london

Cheers! My name is Julie and this is my study abroad blog. I am spending a semester in London with Temple University where I am a Broadcast Telecommunications & Mass Media major. I will be updating this every day from September 1 to January 3 with photos, text posts and maybe even some videos! Enjoy xx

day 113

22 December 2011

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ELLEN!!  When I was planning activities for today I wanted to make it all about Ellen’s favorite things.  So we did Beatles, birthplace of punk music (the good kind) and Harrod’s… ok that one was for Mom.

First we took a bus ride up to St John’s Wood to see Abbey Rd!  Or at least we thought the bus was going to take us there.  Instead, we ended up way north in Hampstead, which is a cute town but not where we wanted to be…. So we got back on the bus and got off at a stop we passed on the way up and walked the rest of the way to the “crossing”.  

When we reached Abbey Road Studios we signed the wall.  Except experience taught me not to sign the painted part of the wall because the studio paints over it every two or three months (my first signing was gone when I went back the second time) so we signed the wooden door next to the wall.  Then we walked over to the crossing and I went to the little statue island to get a good angle on the picture.  It turned out pretty well, but I should have zoomed in a little.  Then Mom took a picture of me and Ellen, which would have turned out well if 1. I didn’t mess up my form (again) and 2. a tall guy didn’t step right in front of the camera as Mom was taking the picture.  Who does that?! 

Anyway, when that one was done we walked up to the St John’s Wood tube stop to check out the Beatles coffee shop.  Ellen got a Revolver mug, we got a deck of the really cool Beatles cards for Dad, and a Yellow Submarine coloring book for ourselves.  Can’t wait to start coloring the pictures!

Then we took the tube to Camden Town!  We walked through the outdoor markets first so Mom and Ellen could see the canal and the cool motorcycle seats people sit on to eat, and then we went into the Stable Markets.  I found out last time I went in there that they are a never-ending maze of stalls and food stands, so instead of wandering around too much I led us straight to area I liked the best.  It’s a little more vintage than other parts, with boxes of old pictures and maps, a stall that sells awesome, old suitcases (the ones with the old travel stickers), and used book stands.  I found a book at one of the stands that had a book on Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club so I got that for Dad.  

When were done checking out the stalls we went outside and walked up Chalk Farm Road a little.  Ellen took some pictures of the huge sculpture things that are on the buildings and I showed them Amy Winehouse’s old pub.  Then we caught a bus to Belsize Park, which was an area I hadn’t been to before.  We went up there because there was a Prezzo restaurant, and Ellen decided that’s where she wanted to go for her birthday dinner.  The food was really great!  I had a pizza and Mom and Ellen both had pasta dishes.  It was nice and warm in there :)

The last thing on our list for the day was to go to Harrod’s.  The windows were so cool!  They were all crystal with blue lights and feathers.  We walked through a bunch of the departments, including Christmas World, Harry Potter World, furniture, chandeliers and then we stumbled upon all the food rooms.  There were SO MANY!  There was a produce room, and seafood hall, candy, and a gourmet meats/cheeses/dishes etc.  Everything looked delicious.

On our way home we stopped at Tesco to get birthday desserts.  Mom and I got Magnum ice cream bars and Ellen got a toffee pudding mousse cup.  Yum!

Yay Ellen’s birthday!

day 112

21 December 2011

Today started out with samosas and tea from Cafe Deco, which is right around the corner from FIE.  I went there every Tuesday before class.  Then we took a nice bus ride through Notting Hill and over to Bloomsbury.  We got off at Euston Square and walked up Euston Rd, which turns into Pentonville.  We were on our way to the Lexington for Christmas dinner!  We passed by Nido and Tesco and then had some time to kill so I took Mom and Ellen to the Chapel Market in Angel nearby.  When we went into the Lexington, they had a table set up for us with a tablecloth and candles and crackers.  It was very festive :)  Ellen and I started with a pumpkin soup and Mom had a terrine.  Then I had parmesan crusted salmon, Mom had turkey and Ellen had a pumpkin and goat cheese wellington.  Then for dessert I got a traditional Christmas pudding and Mom and Ellen got chocolate tarts.  I actually liked the pudding, but I was so stuffed and couldn’t eat much of it.

After dinner we took a bus to Leicester Square to see Mousetrap!  It’s the longest running stage production in history I think.  We had a little bit of time before the doors opened so we walked down Charing Cross Rd to the Global Radio building, and also looked for 84 Charing Cross Rd, which is now a Pizza Hut :(  Then we went back to the theatre and took our seats.  The theatre was pretty small but very ornate.  The show was really good, and during intermission everyone was making predictions on who they thought the murderer would be.  I think all three of us had at least part of the solution correct, but because of the oath the audience had to take after the show ended, I can’t reveal it to you ;)

Afterwards we took a bus back to the flat.  It was great route - we got to see all of Knightsbridge lit up, including Harrods, and found a building with a giant, flourescent, purple penguin on it.  The man sitting behind us heard us talking about the things we were passing and started telling us about good places to take pictures and the area in general.  He was originally from Dallas but worked in London for a couple of years back in the seventies.  He was visiting for Christmas because he loves going up to Cambridge to hear the King’s Singers perform the Lessons and Carols.

It was a jam-packed day!

day 111

20 December 2011

Mom and Ellen came today!  I planned to leave the hostel at 6:30am to get to Heathrow at 7:30 (their plane was supposed to land at 7:30) but I didn’t end up leaving until 7:00.  Then I missed the first tube to Heathrow because I had my suitcase and couldn’t walk down the escalator - I thought I was going to be really late getting to the terminal.  And actually I was, but luckily (?) it took Mom and Ellen a realllllyyy long time to get through border control so I got to the arrivals meeting area before them.

The first thing we did was take the tube to Gloucester Rd so we could exchange money.  Then we walked past FIE so I could show them my school building, and went to the Sainsbury’s nearby because I wanted to buy tea and scones for our breakfast.  The flat we were staying in was only a few blocks away so we walked there.  It was in between the Earl’s Court and West Brompton tube stations on Ifield Rd.  The lady who was renting the flat to us met us there and told us about restaurants in the area and gave us suggestions on things to do.  I already had most of our activities planned out though, beginning with that afternoon.

We took a quick nap and then headed over to the Tower of London.  We did tour of the audio guide tours - ‘Bloody Tower’ and the Crown Jewels.  We also watched the huge ravens that live around the Tower eat their raw chicken dinners on the lawn….

After we were done walking around we crossed Tower Bridge and walked along the South Bank.  We took a little detour that landed us in Borough Market, and then walked through the Christmas Village near the BFI.  We took a bus back to Fulham and ate dinner at the Chelsea Kitchen, which was very good!  Then I think we all fell asleep :)

day 110

19 December 2011

Oops. I’m a little behind…. So this morning I left Brussels to go back to London.  I got to Brussels Midi station a little early because I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to find the Eurostar platforms.  Turned out to be a good idea, because I couldn’t find it at first.  When I finally looked at the right sign I saw the Eurostar logo and arrow pointing in the direction I needed to go.  But that was after walking around for ten minutes and not seeing anything about Eurostar.

Anyway, I went through security and got to UK border control, which is what I was a little nervous about.  My student visa expired on the 18th so technically I should have gone back to America by then.  But I was told that all I had to do in order to stay in the UK a little longer was leave for a day before the visa expired and reenter as a tourist after the 18th.  So I went to Brussels and now I needed to reenter the UK as a tourist.  The lady at border control asked questions about how long I had been in the UK, when I would be leaving again, who was meeting me there etc.  I kind of felt like I was cheating the system but she let me back in!  

The train ride was pretty fast - I got to London around 3:00pm I think.  I took the tube right to Oxford Circus and walked to my hostel, which was right off of Oxford St.  Oxford St was packed with people Christmas shopping so it was a little difficult navigating my suitcase around all the feet, but I made it to the YHA hostel without any major issues.  My room was very comfortable but didn’t have wifi, so I spent most of the evening in the lounge.  It was raining out and I was tired so I didn’t try to do anything exciting.  Plus I had to get up early the next morning because Mom and Ellen were coming!