We had decided not to go back to the States for the Christmas Holidays, but instead travel to three different countries in Europe: England, France, and Iceland. Our adventure was fun, entertaining, and, of course, filled with misadventures. Let me begin with London.
London has always been a place I’ve wanted to go to do studies or work. I’ve always loved its architecture, and grand landmarks; and there's something about the British accent and their various choice of words that make me automatically deem them smart and polite even if they are actually cussing me out--Ha! So, when we finally arrived, I was extremely excited thinking about my possible future.
The weather was gloomy and freezing, but I wasn’t surprised, as I’ve heard that their weather is like this the majority of the time--rarely do you see a clear sky. After going through customs, my sister and I caught a taxi and settled into our Airbnb studio located in Little Venice. The studio was cute, quaint, and warm; precisely what we needed to feel at home away from home. We then headed to the City Centre twenty minutes away to get on the London Eye, an enormous observation wheel that allows you to see some of London’s landmarks, such as, Big Ben, London Bridge, and the House of Parliament, to name a few.
While in line to receive our tickets for the attraction, a man behind us kept making rude remarks indicating our need to hurry up. “STOP!” we said simultaneously. However, I noticed my sister said it with a British accent. With a deadpan stare, I asked, “You’re getting into character aren’t you?” My sister, much like myself, has always been enamored by British culture, but she, more so, for its literature. “I have to, I can’t be here and not step into my alter ego," she said. Upon getting onto the Eye, we were directed by the staff members to step to the left to catch the next observation capsule, which was inconveniently the same capsule the rude man was also about to embark. This felt like it could be the beginning of a Seinfeld episode that ends with us fighting the man. Fortunately, it did not, and we only gave him the side eye.
The next day was Christmas Day, and we had planned to go to various sites by taxi, but we had found it harder than expected to catch one. After walking a mile and some change towards our Christmas Breakfast destination, we finally were able to hail a cab and had brunch at the St Pancras, Renaissance Hotel. Surprisingly it wasn’t as expensive as I thought it was going to be, and fulfilling. For the rest of the day, we kept to our plan of seeing as many landmarks as possible, seeing as though it was our only day since our flight out was the next evening. Everything we saw on the London Eye from afar, we managed to see up-close, even getting to see Buckingham Palace.
The next day, having only a couple of hours to fit in one last attraction, we visited the London Dungeon. Clearly, based on the name of this place, it was not going to be a relaxing experience. This tour gives you gruesome insight into some of London’s most notorious murders, and torture chambers, as well as allowing you to partake in interactive shows throughout. I was introduced to Sweeney Todd and Jack the Ripper, both of whom scared the living daylights out of me. At one point on the tour, I pushed my sister towards the Gatekeeper of the torture chamber after he had initially invited me to enter. Thinking that I had escaped, it was only five minutes later that I was picked on again and put into the other chamber right across from her--Dang it! Nothing like being threatened to have your tongue twisted off with a piping-hot device. The pic below explains our experience better than I can articulate it.
Upon “escaping” the dungeon, we hurried to get our suitcases and catch the metro to Stansted Airport on our way to our next destination, Paris…only to find out that we should have gone to Gatwick Airport, a three-hour bus ride away.
Check out Part 2 of our Christmas Adventure!