I wake up on Sept. 29 in my friend Eimear’s flat in London, England, ready to explore the city. While Eimear spent the morning kicking butt in karate, I decided to head to a museum. The Science Museum, London was full of airplanes, old cars and exhibits telling me about how a baby chimpanzee was better than me at certain games. Of course, that combined with numerous other discoveries had me feeling like a child in a candy shop all morning. After grabbing a cup of coffee we set off to the Imperial War Museum, a place full of submarines, tanks, room replications, war posters, japanese swords and so much more. I’m a World War II history buff – needless to say, my entire afternoon was consumed by the place. On our way back we took the scenic route – allowing me to see Westminster Abbey, a scaffold-covered Big Ben, the London Eye, and countless historic statues. That night we went to the coolest burger place, called the Lord Nelson. This place looks like it was decorated for holidays, but none of the decorations or knick-knacks were ever taken down — New Year’s Eve decorations right next to Halloween pumpkins, and signs like “if it’s chocolate, it’s food” that I could not agree more with.

Sunday rolled around and we had a plan — Hyde Park was up first. It was like Central Park but with British accents and cooler spots. It was the type of area that, if you didn’t know any better, you almost wouldn’t be able to tell that the city was a five-minute walk to your right. While walking through the park we paused at the Marble Arch (I wonder what it was made of?) because it was a picture perfect spot. Then headed past Speaker’s Corner — a historically designated place for anyone to speak their mind without repercussion — to Buckingham Palace. The palace was beautiful and the guards, stone-faced. Everything looked dipped in gold, the definition of extravagant. Trafalgar Square was next, where there happened to be a Japanese market set up by the elegant fountains. The numerous British people wearing Kimonos we had seen earlier in the day made so much more sense, I had begun to wonder if Great Britain had fallen back into its imperialist habits… We checked out the booths and what each was selling before inching our way out of the crowd.

Earlier in the weekend, I had asked Eimear what her favorite place in London was; “Hamleys Toy Store,” she replied, and so we went. If you’ve never been to Hamleys, it’s essentially a child’s dream come true, naturally I had a blast. There are multiple floors, each with more toys than you could imagine. There are employees playing with drones and modified frisbees, there are life-sized Lego people and characters, on the Harry Potter floor you can get your wand from a Slytherin in his scarf and robe. When we finally pulled ourselves away from the magical building only to head onto the next. Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station, the entrance to the train bound for Hogwarts and the place where I unfortunately learned that I was a muggle. It’s fine, really, I didn’t think Fairfield University’s course credit would transfer anyway…

Sunday morning, Eimear and I grabbed homemade scones and coffee at the cutest little bakery in Battersea Square. Even though it wasn’t tea, I couldn’t help but drink it with my pinky out — just like the Brits, right? She had to head to classes so we bid adieu and I hopped on the train to Camden Market. Despite the early morning, there were multiple pop up shops strewn about the side streets. A small shopping bag later and I set off on my next mission. The original and only storefront Twinings Tea Shop, a place in London that I have been looking forward to visiting ever since I was a kid reading the back of the tea package one afternoon while waiting for the water to boil and munching on a biscotti I had stolen from my mom’s secret stash. I plugged the address into my phone and my tunnel vision ensued, I had one goal. Forty-five minutes later and I had arrived, the long, narrow shop was beautiful, filled with more tea than I even knew they had. I was about to begin shopping when I stepped outside to answer a call from my dad. I opened the door, looked up, and realized that I had walked right past the Department of Justice. This huge, sprawling building that could be compared to a palace, and I had walked past it without noticing because I was so focused on this tiny, antique storefront. So I did the one thing any reasonable person would do, I took a picture and walked back into the tea shop. I have my priorities straight, and you can bet that I stuffed my carry-on backpack so much the zipper almost didn’t close.

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre was my final destination of the trip and was super cool, unfortunately I had just missed the tour time so a few pictures later and I was on a tube to the airport. Although I filled my days with sightseeing, there is still a lot I’ve left to see. If you ever go to London, don’t see everything in one go, break it up, I had an amazing time and love that I was able to take my time at different spots and that I can still go back and see new things. I can not wait until I can return, it was an absolutely brilliant weekend! London was everything I expected it to be, unfortunately the British thought the same thing about my attempt at a fake British accent…

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