Expectations vs. Reality

It’s safe to say I love London. As in, I could live here. We’ve now visited multiple parts of the Greater London area, such as Soho (where our hostel is), Camden, Westminster, and the East End. They’re all great but so different, and the best way I know how to describe this whole place so far is that you can see, hear, or eat literally anything in this city. Way cool.

My main goal for this blog was originally to write every night. How ambitious I was! After a full day of walking, eating, talking, and sight-seeing, the last thing I want to do when I fall into my twin bunk bed at 12am is to hop on my tablet and write a blog post. Two edged sword, though: I now have 4 days to cover. Whoops.

Day 1: Our first official day

Our hostel advertised this free walking tour of Westminster, so we decided that it’d be a good way to meet people/begin seeing the city. What people don’t tell you about planning a trip is that deciding your plan for the day is pretty difficult!

The tour started in Green Park, then moved onto Buckingham Palace just in time to see the changing of the guard! There were thousands of people camped out waiting for this event to happen – and it’s like this every day!

20160729_102516992_iOS Next we moved on and saw the horse guards, Trafalgar Square, and Westminster Abbey while listening to facts and funny anecdotes about what we were looking at. If anybody knows a way to get into the Abbey without paying £20, please let me know! I want to walk on dead people!

This day included a lot of walking, so of course we treated ourselves to a nice nap… in preparation for a night out. Yes, we had paid for tickets on a pub crawl with people from other hostels. 5 pubs, free shots, and lots of American music accompanied by dancing. This is Covent Garden we’re talking about, on a Friday night. Personally I think that’s super cool.

We had to be at the first bar at 7:30, so we rushed to get ready. Knowing we needed to eat, we stopped at a cheap, hole in the wall Italian place that turned out to be amazing (tortelloni with mushrooms and a tomato cream sauce, anyone?) So far, we’ve had absolutely no trouble finding delicious food for less than £10. Highlights of the rest of the night:

  • A bar with candy shots
  • A speakeasy style bar where our guide told us we could ask for any drink and the bartenders would know how to make it (we didn’t test their knowledge, but we did try a delicious cocktail with a starfruit hooked on the glass)
  • A bar with 5 levels; each level had a different style of music playing and there were all kinds of people dancing there. We loved this one, until…
  • We got into the Cafe de Paris, which isn’t a cafe at all but a very popular nightclub with a sweeping, two-sided staircase, fun music, and a young crowd ready to dance all night (we didn’t leave til 3am, and there were still people dancing!)

Turns out that going out and drinking with people from many different countries is truly the best way to get to know each other, because we made some awesome friends that night! Shoutout to Jesus, Roger (a fellow American), Mabel, Vinda, the awesome Australian guy – who we scandalized with a popular American term that means something totally different in Australia, and then totally lost track of him without catching his name – and the Italian contingent, four young men we never actually talked to and who weren’t all actually Itaian, but looked it. We were so lucky to find a great group of young people who genuinely had our backs that night!

Due to my tendency to write lots of details and long anecdotes, I’ll post more about the other days. Cheers!

– Kayla

One thought on “Expectations vs. Reality

  1. Lori Oducayen says:

    So happy you got to see the changing of the guards. The pomp and circumstance is so British. You now have a reason to go back to London in a few years; to walk on all the dead folks in Westminster Abbey! Glad you’re enjoying all the food too. Thanks for posting before I go and see Omi tomorrow. She will be delighted, as was I, to read the latest from you and Emily. Your mom said you’re on to Amsterdam next. More adventure awaits. Love, Auntie Lori


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