Saturday, June 29, 2013

and so it begins...

I made it to London... Finally!

My adventure started on Thursday (6/28) with the journey to NYC to fly out of JFK.  What was supposed to take about four hours took just about six.  Then my flight was delayed... surprise, surprise.  Eventually getting off the ground at 10:00 or so, meant I didn't land until about 10:00am local time (that means 5:00am for all you east coasters).  Jet lagged, dehydrated, and just overall exhausted, I made it to the dorm after hopping on the Heathrow Express, followed by cab ride across town.  My first glimpses of this great city were viewed through rain pattered windows, but it was still just as amazing as I had hoped.

Our class met at 4:00 for a neighborhood introduction tour with our wonderful professor, Dr. Teresa Welsh, from USM.  We walked down the south bank of the Thames, which is very near our dorm, and learned a lot about the area where we will be spending the next month. After a delicious pizza dinner, we traveled on to Leicester Square via the tube.  What a great way to travel around London! Yeah, it's a busy subway.. but it's really quite nice.  We walked on to Trafalgar Square, and caught the bus back to Waterloo to get to our dorm (did I mention that the bus stop was right in front of Big Ben?  yeah, it was)  There was so much to see, I cannot wait to get back to these places when I am not so exhausted.

Saturday was a gorgeous day!  We had class orientation in the morning, where we were given our schedules for the next month.  There are some really fantastic places we will be visiting, and I am more than excited to see the places I have only read about.  Following our group session was our program orientation with the director and the BSP staff.  Afterwards, a few of us walked over to the nearby Konditor & Cook to get some lunch, and delicious pastries of course.  And then...time for more walking!

Our first LondonAlive walking tour started at 2 - I went on the 'Along the Riverside' walk which started as our class walk had the previous day, but ventured much farther.  We walked all along the South Bank, which turns out is a very family friendly place.  There are all sorts of little things to see; the Queens Walk Window Gardens, a HUGE sandbox to play in, a skateboard park, and tons of shops, restaurants, and street performers.  We walked past the Tate Modern, followed by Shakespeare's Globe.  Lastly, we walked through Borough Market, an open-air market similar to a farmer's market.  It was huge, filled with so many delicious things.  I will definitely be going back there to do a little shopping when I have more time.  One thing I did do was buy some cheese at this beautiful cheese shop, Neal's Yard Dairy.  All of their cheeses are made in Britain and Ireland, and the ones I tasted were absolutely amazing (big thanks to Katy for helping us out!).  Boyfriend would be jealous, so I guess I will have to take him there when he comes to visit.

It has been an exciting, and exhausting, introduction to London over the past two days.  And I couldn't be happier :o)