“London isn’t just a city. It’s a world.”

I almost have no words for how incredible London was this weekend. My wallet didn’t particularly like how expensive the city is, but I would do it all over again with no regrets. London is absolutely amazing.

Haley and I were able to find a cheap bus to London this weekend through IDBus. It was definitely longer than other means of transportation there, but we saved a lot of money. When we got in Friday night, we went to Hannah’s apartment. Hannah is on another Missouri Journalism Abroad program, but in the London location.

The next morning we got up early to go to a cute diner for breakfast. Then, we went to the Camden Market, which is a market that had lots of food, clothes, souvenir and other vendors. It was a very enjoyable experience and a lot of items were lower on the price scale. I got a very European-looking dress for 10 pounds, which is about 15 dollars. After the Camden Market, we went to Borough Market, which is sort of similar to Camden market, but more food-based. We still were not hungry yet from the big breakfast we had, so we decided to walk around the river and explore Southbank.

This area Hannah described as reminding her of Venice Beach and I could definitely see it. It was a gorgeous day and people were just eating and drinking at restaurants along the river. We passed Shakespeare’s Globe, the London Eye, Big Ben and more. We also stopped to get food at a restaurant down there.

Then, we took the tube back near Hannah’s house and stopped in at a bar in Little Venice to get a Pimms pitcher because it is apparently a popular drink in London that we had to try. Little Venice was beautiful and also very quaint.

Then we went back to Hannah’s apartment to get ready because Haley and I were going to see Phantom of the Opera that night at Her Majesty’s Theatre. We got down to Piccadilly Circus, which is the area that all of the shows are at. It’s such a lively area. It reminded me of New York City. The streets were lit with the lights from billboards, people were lively and music filled the streets.

The theater was a little bit small, but in an intimate close-interaction with the show kind of way. It was great. I had only seen bits and pieces of The Phantom of the Opera movie and had never seen the show, so I was thrilled. The show was fantastic and they had such great and quick set changes and the singing was amazing as well as the acting. It was one of my favorite activities so far during my summer in Europe.

After we got out, we met up with some people from the Mizzou trip for a night of clubbing. Let me just tell you that Brussels nightlife has absolutely nothing on London’s (which is probably so much better for my wallet). We went to a bar called Bar Rumba that was underground and a little bit small, but really fun. They were playing a ton of American early 2000s music and everyone in the entire place was dancing. And it wasn’t like American “dancing” is now where everyone tries to just dance up on one another. People in London actually knew how to dance and it was great. The attire was also very different than in Brussels. I would say it was very similar to what you would wear to go clubbing in the US. Brussels is just a lot more conservative clothing-wise, so it was a bit of a shock to me.

After Bar Rumba we went to Piccadilly Institute, which was almost a surreal experience. Walking up to the club, we noticed that there was red ropes and a guest list. We said the name of one of the people we were with’s coworker in order to get in. When we walked in, it didn’t seem that fun, but that’s because the first floor is rather calm. When we walked up the stairs, it was like we were in a whole other world. Piccadilly Institute seemed to have endless floors of dance music, people and great interior design. It was really hard to keep everyone together, but it was a lot of fun as well.

The next day we got up took the tube to Big Ben and then walked to all of the main attractions. We saw Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and St. James’ Park.

Then, we took a tube over towards the Tower of London, but we decided we needed to get some food first. We stumbled across this pub called The Minories, which turned out to be a TripAdvisor suggestion. It is a pub under the train, so it was a really cool vibe. We sat there and ate fish and chips while drinking a Guinness and watching the Wimbledon finals. It was very enjoyable.

When we went to see Tower Bridge it was still drizzling a little, but it was still nice. Then we went to King’s Cross Railway Station to see Platform 9 3/4, but the line to take a picture would have been about 45 minutes and we did’t really have time, so we got creative and took pictures next to it.

We took an overnight bus back home to Brussels and I got really lucky because they didn’t need me to come into work that day. London was an absolutely amazing trip and it was the first place that I have been to in Europe that I could actually see myself living. However, I suggest budgeting a lot of money if you ever decide to go to London because everything is more expensive than I originally thought it would be.

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