The first few weeks here I spent a lot of time seeing the tourist attractions that make London famous. This list includes Buckingham Palace, St. James Park, Big Ben, Parliament, Trafalgar’s Square, the Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Monument to the Great Fire of London, as well as many others. This also included a few pictures inside the red telephone booths.
In a classic red telephone booth
Since I have seen a handful of these attractions, it has been fun to now try and fill my weekends in London with not-so-obvious attractions and unique events going on in the city. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to try and find things to do because London is so big. One resource that has been very helpful is Timeout London. Timeout London allows you to search for events going on in the city based on interests, location, or dates. It also provides reviews of different restaurants, places, events, museums, and attractions so users can get a taste of what to expect.
A group of Wisconsin students in St. James Park
Now that I am more settled in, a typical weekend here is pretty laid back with many of the students living in the apartment doing different things. Although many students travel on the weekends, the majority of the Wisconsin students stayed in London this weekend so there was plenty to do. For example, some of the things that people did this weekend were: check out some local markets, see some of the countless museums in London, take a look inside Harrods (the classic upscale London department store) work on school projects at the City University library, and experience the fantastic Kew Royal Botanic Gardens. The weather is starting to get warm here (around 40-50°F) so I have been doing a lot of walking. On Friday I walked to the neighborhoods Covent Garden and Leicester Square in the central part of the city. I ended up getting turned around and probably walked about 6 miles trying to find my way back to the apartment. I also enjoyed walking to bustling Oxford Street with a few other girls in the program to do some shopping. I have found that walking is not only great way to be a little more active, but also to get a better idea of where we are in this giant city. It’s been nice getting to know where places are in relation to one another.
Kathleen (another WSoB student) and me in front of the stage in the Globe Theater
Another popular thing to do on the weekends is experience some of the London nightlife. London is well known for its big-name theater productions as well as clubs and dance venues. Most of these attractions are located in Covent Garden, Leicester Square, and Piccadilly Circus. This area is generally known as the West End. Nightlife in London is not cheap. Decent seats at a prominent show on the West End cost around £50. Nightclubs also charge a cover (usually around £10), and purchases made inside the venue are incredibly expensive. Regardless of this, they draw vast crowds. A typical West End scene at night includes women in flashy dresses and heels, men wearing stylish suits, club promoters hollering at groups of students, and black taxi cabs everywhere. Although expensive, it is most definitely worth experiencing.
The entrance to the National History Museum in South Kensington, London
Weekends in London have offered me a great way to feel more connected to the city and explore what goes on here in different areas and boroughs. Although traveling to other countries while studying abroad is very rewarding, I have found that spending time in London is never dull. There is always something going on here, it just might require a little bit of research, and walking…