On January 6th I got on a plane with my best friend and about 16 strangers. I packed an absurd amount of clothing, all of my shower essentials, all of my beauty essentials (way more than I should need but I have a bit of an obsession), only one pair of shoes (I later regretted this), an umbrella, my laptop, and of course my passport. Our plane was delayed a few times but before I knew it we were off, flying on a Virgin Atlantic Dreamliner plane.
I had traveled outside of the country before- I went to Italy in high school, and the Bahamas with my parents a couple of years ago. This was different though. While we did have scheduled tours and things to do as a group we also had a crazy amount of free time. We had our own apartment and very few rules or supervision. We could explore the city of London and do whatever we wanted. It was one of the most exciting things I have ever done.
|The group on our way to England!|
We landed in London and went straight to our flat (apartment) in Russell Square. I was lucky to be grouped in the smaller flat with three other girls, including my best friend. The other flat had 8 girls in it, and then in another building we had about 6 more people grouped in different rooms. Our flat had two bedrooms with twin beds, two bathrooms (both with showers!), a living room, and a kitchen. It was wonderful. When I stayed in Italy I stayed in hotels as we traveled the whole country. It was nice to have a "home" while we were there and not just a hotel. I quickly realized my ATM card wasn't working, but I messaged my mom through the wifi in my room and she quickly got that taken care of.
During my trip I saw so many historical sights that I have spent my whole life reading about. I have studied a lot of British Literature both in high school and in college. In addition to that though, I read an absurd amount of Historical Fiction. It is my favorite genre. Within that genre my favorite thing to read about is the English royalty. I love reading books about Kings and Queens (mostly the struggles through the queens' perspectives) where they are traveling between their palaces and locking traitors up in The Tower, and living a life that I could only imagine. It was such an extreme way of life that it felt like it had to be fully fiction, it baffled me that it was real. Going to England, I was so excited to see the sights that I had read about and imagined in my mind. It would make those tales even more real to me.
The first day there we went to the Tower of London. As I mentioned before it was a sight I had read a lot about. This is where traitors were locked up and executed. Not all were executed of course, Elizabeth the first was locked here as a child. Most were executed though. During my trip I learned that it was also the place where the Kings kept exotic animals gifted to them from other countries. How cool is that? It is also the burial place of Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey! In addition to that this is also where they keep the crown jewels! They were unbelievable. I can't imagine having that much expensive jewelry locked away. It was by far one of my favorite sights to see while I was there. I wish I had had more time to stay there and explore.
|One view of The Tower of London|
|This is The Tower Bridge. (People often mistake it for the London Bridge.)|
My most favorite part of my trip was seeing Windsor Castle. It was beautiful. It was full of huge rooms with bright colors, beautiful furniture, and gold accents. Paintings of all of the different Kings and Queens hung on the walls, in addition to paintings that were bought by them. The ceilings were painted, and even the doors were gorgeous. I got to walk up the Grand Staircase where royalty has walked in the past and continues to walk now. Inside the Castle I also got to see Queen Mary's dollhouse- which is a huge dollhouse made to portray the beauty of the architecture and design of that time period. This castle exceed every imagination I had in my mind, even pictures don't do it justice. I would love to go back there someday.
|Windsor Castle was so beautiful on the outside as well as the inside!|
|Me freaking out about being at Windsor.|
In addition to those two places we went to Leeds Castle, Parliament (Big Ben is here), Westminster Abbey, The Globe Theatre, Warner Brother Studios (Harry Potter sets!), the Dickens Museum, Buckingham Palace, and so many other things! I don't want to bore you with a super long post so I have decided to make it a series. Every couple of days I will post some more about my wonderful trip and the crazy things that I saw and experienced. So please check back for more posts!
Below I will post some more photos from the Tower and Windsor:
|This is a guard at the Tower of London.|
|They no longer keep animals at the Tower, so to remind people that they used to be there they have figures made out of chicken wire that represent the animals that once stayed there.|
|My friend Calyn and I sitting in the Tower of London!|
|Unfortunately, we couldn't take pictures inside of Windsor Castle. But believe me when I say it is just as beautiful as the outside.|
|This is a chapel at Windsor Castle. Many weddings take place here today!|