Tuesday, November 11, 2008

London calling

In my attempt to avoid overexposure to bad daytime TV while on maternity leave, I watched one of my favorite movies last week:
I love it because it's set in London and has Gwyneth Paltrow in it.

I've been fascinated with All Things British since I was young. I don't know if it was from reading Paddington or The Secret Garden, but I've become a bit of an Anglophile. That's why I was super excited when I learned of a work-study program through my university to work abroad in London for a summer.

I participated the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college. It was the first time I'd been abroad; the first time I'd even been on a plane. We spent the first three weeks with the entire group from our school (there were about 25 of us) and after that we were on our own -- to find housing, a job and learn our way around the city.

For the most part, it was a fantastic experience. I lived in a flat in North London with 5 other people from our group. We were a quick walk to the main road, close to some pubs (but, really, you're close to a pub anywhere in London) and only 15 minutes from the tube station.

I found work as a waitress in a newly opened whisky and cigar bar in a high end part of London. It was a cool place to work, even if the hours weren't the best. I usually had the supper shift, which meant leaving my flat by 3:30 to make it there before 5 and eventually taking the night bus (which thankfully stopped about 20 yards from our house) and getting home around 3-4 am. I made enough to cover rent and food, with some fun sightseeing excursions courtesy of the Bank of Mom and Dad.

But it was still my first extended time away from home, and by the time August rolled around, I was ready to come back to the states.

I knew I always wanted to go back, though, and play a proper tourist. The hub and I got that chance a few years ago.

We had found a great deal through one of the travel websites for a week stay in London, hotel and flight included, for December 27, 2005 through January 3, 2006. We would get to ring in New Year's in Trafalgar Square, how cool!

Only we hadn't exactly anticipated getting pregnant three months after booking the trip. So I was 30 weeks pregnant, sloshing around a chilly and rainy London and couldn't even partake in any of the fun (and by fun, I mean drinking in a pub) that we had planned.

It was a mixed trip. We had fun, but were disappointed that our plans didn't go exactly as we wanted. Plus, I was huge and hormonal and probably not the best traveling partner.

Someday we'd like to go back, again, only not be pregnant, and maybe have it be a touch warmer. Until then, a few photos from our last trip there.

Clock tower at the Houses of Parliament. Big Ben is actually the name of the largest bell inside the tower.

Tower Bridge at sunset

Street scene

Fireworks over the Thames on NYE.

*sigh* I love London. In an alternate reality where I'm a billionaire, I'd have a flat there to go stay whenever I want.

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