Only three days into the London trip, and I’m exhausted. London is jam-packed with things to do, places to go, sights to see. At the end of the day, London leaves me visually overwhelmed and with one tired pair of feet. It’s a very good type of tired though, a type that comes with having not wasted a minute of the day. Because in London, even if you’re not actively doing something like taking a tour of the Houses of Parliament, there are people to look at, accents to hear, fascinating buildings around every corner, chimes going off, and the general hustle and bustle of a major city to absorb.
As far as sites go, I’ve been to the Houses of Parliament, St. Paul’s, the Tate Modern, Tate Britain, British Museum, Museum of London, and Guildhall. But a list of sights isn’t what makes a trip interesting or memorable, it’s usually the quirks of a place that give a trip its character.
Things peculiar to London so far include things like the frequent reminders to “Mind the gap” when getting off of tube stations or that every soda I’ve ordered comes in a glass bottle. Everyone jaywalks here, and when you pay at a restaurant, the waiter will bring a card reader to you and swipe it at your table. The Union Jack emblazoned tourist shops are rivaled in number by bureaus du change, all claiming to offer competitive exchange rates. The sun goes down at about 4:20, if it comes out at all. There are 1p (pence), 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p coins, but also 1 and 2-pound coins and they’re all hard to sort out at the cash register. None of the streets are linear, and nothing runs parallel. Bathrooms in stores usually require you to punch in a code, and it seems like there’s nothing harder than finding a public trashcan on the street, unless it’s finding a drinking fountain.
Those are all general observations, but here are a few tidbits from my trip thus far:
- I lit a votive candle in St. Paul’s Cathedral, after shoving my 50p fee into an overflowing collection box.
- I navigated the tube and streets solo, to get from the Tate Modern to the Tate Britain and was rewarded with this view of Big Ben and the House of Parliament lit up by the sun.
- The cookies I bought at an itty-bitty grocery are called “biscuits,” not cookies.
- I bought a sweater that has a corgi wearing a crown. I will not wear this while in London, but expect to see it on me when I get back to campus.
- Megan Mizuta
Megan is a sophomore international political economy major from Boise, Idaho.