I'm sitting on the Eurostar train, waiting to leave for Paris. To say I'm excited would be an understatement. I am SO excited!
I left Karen's this morning and it was the first time going out by myself. There's always a bit of an intimidating feeling, but it's the most accomplished feeling when it all works out.
It was really easy to get to the train station, only four stops from the tube stop near Karen's flat. Then everything was easy. I had to go through security, just like at an airport, which makes sense, considering I'm leaving the country. They told me I didn't have to take off my belt or watch, which of course made the metal detector go off. I got a pat down which was more intrusive than anything I've had in the US.
Next I got my passport stamped and headed to the gate. I saw a sign saying I could buy my metrocard here, which made me excited because I wasn't sure what I should buy for my four days in Paris, and it was nice to be able to discuss it with someone I knew for sure spoke English. Not to mention I was able to use some of the Pounds I have leftover. I definitely did not spend as much cash as I'd anticipated so that's good news. Then right when I finished, the train pulled up and it was time to board. It was totally seamless! I'm sure I'll have plenty of snafus in Paris, so it's nice to start off the trip easy.
Yesterday was a great last day. Karen and I got up and went to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard. It was a ZOO there. Thousands of people. Being New Yorkers, we were able to be...assertive...and get a decent view. It was cool, but I wouldn't need to see it again.
The only photo we took together. (Besides NYE.) How ridiculous is that??
Then we spent a long time taking pictures and by the time we were done we were really cold. We decided to walk through Saint James's park. There was a little stand so we decided to get some hot chocolate. There really was no que, yet the woman taking orders kept taking them from everyone who walked up after us. The New Yorker in me once again came out and I was just about to regulate when I noticed the cute Italian man making drinks had struck up a conversation with Karen. I decided to go this route instead. We chatted and flirted, and not only got our drinks, but got them for free. :)
Walking through the park was lovely. I'm so glad we were able to go to a park. It was so pretty, and there were so many birds. Tons of ducks, swans, and some strange really huge birds.
Next we made our way over to Westminster Abbey. We decided to do the free audio tour and I'm so glad we did. I can't imagine not doing it. The cathedral is amazingly beautiful. My favorite part was the Lady Chamber, I think it's called. Oh my goodness, it was so beautiful I almost cried.
I had no idea so many people I learned about in school were buried there. I'm sure I heard at some point but it just didn't mean much to me at the time. It was so cool to see the tombs of Chaucer, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, and so much royalty.
When I was there I kept imagining Queen Elizabeth's coronation, Princess Diana's funeral, and Prince William and Kate Middleton's upcoming wedding.
After the Abbey we were starving so we went to Harrod's. I hadn't been there yet and they have a huge food gallery. We bought sandwiches and went to a cafe to eat.
Harrods at night.
Once we sat down I realized how completely exhausted I was. It was about 4pm and we had dinner plans at 7:30. I asked to go home for a bit. We got home and I absolutely passed out. Like, slept so hard for about an hour or so. It was great.
Then we headed out again to meet up with a few friends at a place for Dutch pancakes. They were so delicious, and as usual, the company was great. There were tons of laughs and I felt like it was so easy to feel comfortable.
After dinner we headed home so I could figure out my plans for today, pack, and so Karen could get to bed since she had to go back to work today. London has been absolutely incredible. It was so much better than I anticipated. I had so much fun being a tourist, and also feeling like I just lived there. Karen was a great host, and the people were so friendly, and I couldn't have asked for better weather. It was in the mid 30s the whole time, and only barely rained once.
Thank you London! Paris, be kind...