Travel Week PART 2
Written by Jennifer November 26, 2014
How wonderful London is! How unfortunate the currency exchange rate is!
London after Ireland was the English language haven that we were all so ready to enter. We [Sam, Lindsay, Taylor, and I] arrived at the airport and headed straight to The Tube. So while walking around our first day, we begun to notice these Poppy Pins. Little red flowers on blazers and blouses. When I say we saw them, I mean we saw them everywhere. London is pretty much a huge Wall Street and all of the business workers had on these crocheted Poppies on the lapel of their coats. Hard to miss. We thought, well we will figure that out soon enough. After getting money out of the painful atm [currency exchange] for Jersey Boys, we had an amazing start in the business capital.
The next morning we headed to where else but the bus tours. You know those iconic red buses in every single London photo. We took one of those. If you’re there, do it. You can see so many things and not even walk! You just jump off when you think it looks interesting and jump on when you’re finished! (no, I’m not being compensated for this promotion). On our way to the bus pick-up, Taylor (who is the best person for this job), asked a man on the tube what the poppies were for. They were for the 100th year memorial of WWI.
You can probably guess what comes first with our tour…THE QUEEN!
So we didn’t really see her, but the Buckingham Palace was gorgeous! We saw the changing of the guards. Since she was in London at the time, the production of it was extravagant from horses to music. I must admit, it’s a little anticlimactic- but something you just have to do while in London.
The Big Ben was pretty awesome to see. Right behind it is the London Eye…which of course we went on. The views that London has are amazing. Did I mention how nice the people are? So many people offered to help us when we were looking at a map- it was astonishing. Someone gave us a train pass too that they were finished using. We checked out the London tower which looked absolutely beautiful. The poppies were pouring out of it like a fountain. The WWI memorial really connected the people in the city. You could feel the collective emotions by just listening to what the locals had to say. The pins that they wore were so much more than pins, but a sentimental symbol of the pain and sadness that war can cause beyond the soldiers and defenders.
The London Bridge was also spectacular. We arrived a week before they revealed the glass floor which allowed you to see the cars passing underneath you. I guess that means we have to go back.
We finally finished the day with a ferry ride on the Thames River.
The next morning we were on a mission: Windsor Castle and Abbey Road. Windsor Castle, in my opinion was 100x cooler than the Buckingham Palace. The tour was interesting and just as I’ve learned to understand, every castle loves to paint it’s ceilings and gold is just another accessory. Taylor, Lindsey, and I grabbed some high-tea in a cafe nearby. What class!
Abbey Road was so exciting for me. Yeah, it’s just a road, but for some reason I couldn’t stay seated on the metro ride there. I jumped out and was speed walking to a simple cross walk. Not to advise this- but we were dodging cars to get a photo. I luckily met a friend and he took the iconic photos for us. (Sam joined us just in time for the perfect “4”) I think The Beatles would be proud.
Final week destination: Paris
So by this time, we are all a bit exhausted. I could not tell you the amount of miles we walked through each of these cities, all I know is that we were going to get a bus tour- again. We got in at night, and woke up that morning with exploration on our minds. Little did we know, our hostel was right next to Baton Rouge. No wonder it was so crowded that night! We got another bus tour- thank goodness – and saw just about everything in the city within an hour. So, we assessed and planned our stops.
I was able to meet up with a friends from school at the Arc De Triumph which was awesome! I must admit, I have never seen such driving chaos as I have in the circle around the arc. Thank goodness there was a tunnel!
The views are spectacular as follows:
We headed straight to that tower thing…you know, the Eiffel Tower or something. Right when we stepped off we were ambushed by men selling Eiffel Tower trinkets- so naturally I bought 5. The Eiffel Tower was beautiful and it definitely felt like a dream to be there. We grabbed a quick lunch, no escargot, and then hopped back on the bus.
After the tower and arc, we traveled to the Love Lock bridge and the Louvre. The bridge actually had some walls covering some of the sides because of the weight of the locks have started to damage the bridge’s structure. We caught a bride and groom getting their wedding photos taken- how romantic!
The Louvre was a quick 5 minute walk away, so we headed on. I have to admit- we didn’t really go inside the Louvre…We were advised that we need days to tour it. SO we went to it’s shopping center and got the feeling of it. All of us of course got the necessary tourist photos with the glass pyramids in the courtyard.
Crazy bathroom situation. To make this relevant to business I would describe it as a bathroom monopoly. So this bathroom you had to pay for, which I’ve learned is a normal thing in Europe, but you had to pay over 2 euros to use it. Why? you might ask. WELL this bathroom is the cleanest one in Paris. There is a desk in which you exchange your pay and get directed to a restroom that has been freshly cleaned- just. for. you. After every use, an attendant rushes in and scrubs the toilet, as if they were expecting the queen. They even decorated the place with colorful toilet paper. Weird? I thought so too.
Now there is nothing quite like the Eiffel Tower at night. We stood in line to climb it and man did it glow! Every hour on the hour, it shimmers. We didn’t plan early enough, but you can make a reservation and skip the line- I highly suggest it!
The city from the top was so beautiful! Really shows you how important perspective is! (too philosophical?)
That next morning Taylor, Lindsey, and I headed to mass at Notre Dame. That was a treat! I didn’t understand a thing, but I’m so happy that I got to go! To be able to experience a similar experience in a different culture is something I find very special. I have really started to appreciate these bonds that go beyond language and nationality.
After mass it was time for- you guessed it! Another Palace! Versailles! This was the most crowded tour I have every been on. There were people stepping on your shoes and people whose shoes you were stepping on. The rooms though- breathtaking.
I’ve never slept so well as the plane ride back to campus. I cannot even imagine how people backpack all over the world without a home base. The travel week was incredible. Oddly enough, hearing Italian was refreshing,
almost felt like home. I wish this semester would last longer!!!