After nearly three weeks abroad, I’m back in the U.S. Leaving was bittersweet. This was the trip of a lifetime — it’s fed my hunger for learning and given me a bit of a break from the election madness here in the states. Waking up and exploring new places everyday is good for the soul. But, I am so happy to be sleeping in my own bed and spending time with my husband.
Being able to add a week of vacation on to the end of my fellowship worked perfectly. My parents and I had a wonderful time in London and enjoyed every moment. Here are a few of my favorite sights and bites from our trip:
This was one of our first stops in London and among my favorite museums in the city. My dad and I are both fascinated by WWII and really enjoyed learning more about Winston Churchill’s life and seeing the underground bunker where he made many decisions during the war. The museum focusing on Churchill’s life contains many interactive exhibits that let you learn more about his political career and childhood. My favorite part came at the end of the tour, when you get to see the massive map room.
We decided to visit Westminster Abbey during the weekly Sunday organ recital and I’m so glad we did. Hearing Bach played in such a large, beautiful church was surreal. We lined up outside around 5:10 p.m. and snagged seats in the first row. This a great way to see the church — and it’s free!
As former English teachers, my parents have always been especially interested in Medieval history. Seeing the Tower of London was something we were all really excited to do. There’s so much history here because the castle served as both a palace and prison. We tagged along on one of the beefeater tours that run every half hour and the guide was wonderful. He gave us an overall history of the castle before we wandered around on our own. Of course, seeing the crown jewels is a must.
Whether you’re a casual fan or die-hard Harry Potter nerd, you can’t miss the WB Studio tour that showcases the actual sets, props and costumes used during the filming of the movies. The studio is located just north of London and easily accessible by train and shuttle bus. We spent about three hours here and were in awe the entire time. The tour takes you through some of the most famous scenes of the movie and gives you an idea of just how creative the crew had to get in order to make movie magic. Don’t miss the butterbeer and butterbeer ice cream that you can get in the cafe halfway through the tour! It tasted just how I imagined after reading the books.
My mother and I originally made plans to have afternoon tea elsewhere. But when we heard you could do so at the palace, we changed our reservation. What better place to partake in this English tradition?! The orangery is beautiful and we were able to easily get a reservation. My mom had traditional English tea and I chose the royal tea, which included a glass of rosé. We both agreed the scones and clotted cream were our favorite part. We toured the palace afterward, which I would highly recommend. We learned more about Queen Victoria and saw a wonderful exhibit about royal fashion.
We stopped by a couple different bakeries for afternoon treats in London, but Maitre Choux was by far my favorite. This place specializes in cream puffs and eclairs and it was so hard to pick our flavors. The treats are just as beautiful as they are tasty. The bakery is in the South Kensington neighborhood, making it the perfect spot to refuel after visiting the palace or museums.