April 2010

No offense to those who adore England, but this was not high on my list of amazing places to visit and return to. Granted I only spent time in London and I know there is MUCH more to the country than what I saw, however I was sorely disappointed. London, while having it’s beautiful points of interest (Tower Bridge, Big Ben) was more or less just a large city on the other side of the globe. I was excited about the prospect of seeing England: exploring London and its surroundings, but left feeling underwhelmed by it.

This being said, the hostel we stayed at was called Palmer’s Lodge and was the most beautiful hostel I’ve ever been to. The outside is all brick and looks like it should be a library or a museum. It has dark wooden décor throughout -including the beds, a grand staircase leading up to the rooms, friendly staff and situated very close to the metro. Despite accidentally being assigned to an all boys room, the front desk was quick to resolve it and I was put into a shared room with three other girls. This is the first place I’d ever heard the band Placebo and it’s impossible to not think of sitting in the computer area of this hostel whenever I hear the song “Drag”. There’s also a bar in the basement of this hostel with cheap drinks and a great atmosphere to talk with other young travelers.

A few highlights from this trip included:
Buckingham Palace & watching the changing of the guards
Taking a boat ride down the River Thames and going under London Bridge (imagining it falling down)
Seeing Tower Bridge in person
Hearing ‘Mind the Gap’ over the loudspeaker on the train
Taking a cab with suicide doors at 3AM to the train station
Visiting the Tower of London castle
Walking around Camden Town, eating vegan food and feeling at home among the punk/bohemian subculture

To me, London felt like any large city in the US – only with accents and centuries of history far exceeding the US. It was interesting from a historical perspective to see the land of many of our ancestors, to see where the Mayflower left port and to imagine times when the castles, moats & drawbridges were operational. I think this was an important place to visit and I’m happy to have seen it, however next time I visit England I think I’d prefer visiting the countryside over London.