“London is always a good idea” –ON TOUR European Experience
Phew! What an amazing first few days! We had fun-filled days exploring all that London, the home of the Queen and Harry Potter, has to offer. As soon as we gathered our crew for this summer at the airport, the staff could tell this summer was going to be an unforgettable one.
After a quick get to know you icebreaker, we loaded onto the bus and headed to Berwick Market, where trip members had their very first English lunch together. Later that evening we made our way to Europe’s largest ferris wheel, the famous London Eye. Standing at 443 feet tall, we had the most spectacular view of the city, including a bird’s eye view of Big Ben. Many trip members noted the mix of old and new architecture, as St. Paul’s is nestled among modern buildings such as the Gherkin and the Shard (England’s tallest building) – some of us even thought we could see the Eiffel Tower, but unfortunately (or fortunately??) that will have to wait until Paris!
Our incredibly knowledgeable tour guide, Karen, regaled us with stories of the streets of London, including the Great Fire, started by a small baker who left his oven on, that destroyed much of the heart of London. For all the Harry Potter fans, Karen directed our attention to film locations such as the “Wobbly Bridge,” the Ministry of Magic and Gringotts Bank. As Karen and some of our very own Royal Family experts delved into the history of the Monarchy, we were hoping to get a glance of Prince William and Kate Middleton, but settled for admiring the greatness of Buckingham Palace and the sight of their infamous kiss instead.
Driving over London Bridge, we arrived at Tower Bridge. Many often mistake the two, and lucky for us we were able to experience both! Known as Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, trip members had the chance to explore the armoury, and the old prison and torture area. The armoury contains floors of swords, cannons and the notorious Henry VIII’s armour. Most magnificent of all, however, were the Crown Jewels. The epitome of decadence, the Crown Jewels were a favourite stop for many of our trip members who marvelled at the sheer extravagance of some of the world’s largest gems. Despite the glitz and glamour, some of our trip members were focused on the largest punch bowl they’d ever seen and wondered what it would be like to bathe in it. Ah, mysteries that will remain unexplored…
That night, we ventured into London’s famed theatre district, the West End. We had the pleasure of watching Memphis, a play set during the Civil Rights era that sparked plenty of discussion among trip members. Discussions ranged from empathizing with the plight of the main characters, to guessing where the actors were from and what accents they had. We were blown away to hear the actors break character and reveal their accents as they gave a tribute to the lead, Killian Donnelly, who performed for his last time on the Memphis stage. We even waited by the stage door hoping to catch a glimpse of the cast, and a few lucky trip members were able to get an autograph or two!
We’re now on our way to Paris, where croissants, the Mona Lisa, the opulence of the Palace of Versailles and the River Seine await!
Until next time,
The Westcoast Blogger