For those of you who may not know, University of Sussex is not located in London. Actually, it’s located in Brighton, which is on the coast of the water. If you want to be real technical, I’m located in Falmer. Often times, when one thinks of England, they think of London, which is a natural American reaction, but other townes and cities do exist. Brighton is located about an hour away from East London and two hours away from Central London. Central London is where Big Ben, the Buckingham Palace and St. Paul’s Cathedral is located. Yeah, Brighton doesn’t have that, but we do have Poundland and Prymark. Oh, and Pryzm. We have Pryzm, but that’s a different story for a different blog post about nightlife and entertainment.
This past Sunday, I went on an Introduction to London coach bus tour put on by the International Student Support Group at Sussex. Now, I could tell you about the boring, non-remember-able parts of the tour where it was raining for most of the time we were on the tour and I could barely hear the moderator, but I’ll give you all the fun things and details I encountered.
His name was Donny (or Donnie) and he’s from Minnesota. That’s all I knew about this young American boy and he gave me butterflies. He was so cute (I mean, he still is and I’m pretty sure he still exists, but this campus is so big I’d be surprised if I ever saw him again). I sat right behind him on the coach bus next to my friend Carina and this boy named Sam (the Argentinian I mentioned in a post or two ago). Every time Donny turned his head, I got a little excited hoping he was utter a simple “hello” to me. Naturally, that didn’t happen. As part of the tour, they gave us approximately five hours to split up into groups and explore the city of London all our own. Carina and I were super starving so once they were to drop us off at St. Paul’s Cathedral, we wanted to get some food.
I invited Sam to come with us – and I knew that he and Donny are pretty good friends so I wanted my plan to unfold. He agreed, but when we got off of the bus, Donny went some place with these two girls so I just kept it pushing. Hey, can’t win ’em all, right? It’s okay, I have the rest of the term to get him so there’s still that glimmer of hope.
After walking from St. Paul’s Cathedral, Carina, Sam and I, alongside a graduate student from China named Clair and a student from Kentucky named Morgan, headed across the street to eat at this chain restaurant called Pizza Express. Naturally, I wanted some great pizza with some nice wine and all the works, but my wallet advised me to do otherwise. So, I ordered some calamari. Boy, say, this was the best calamari I had ever had in my life. They were pipping hot as if they were straight out of the fryer and they were the size of onion rings. Whenever I get calamari, they’re itty bitty mini calamari rings that are the size of a suction cup on a baby octopus. These calamari were fat and juicy and the crumbed breaded stuff outside it was so buttery. And the sauce. Oh, the sauce! Just orgasmic. Can I say that? Oh, well. It had this tangy lemon taste with the consistency of a creamy ketchup. Just so delicious.
When leaving Pizza Express, Sam suggested that we all take a trip to the Buckingham Palace. Now, my immediate thought was that we were going to take the subway to the Buckingham Palace, but we decided to take the long way and walk all forty-four minutes to the other side of Central London -insert upside down smiley face emoji here-. Why take the tube when you can walk, right? The walk was really refreshing and the weather was beginning to lighten up considering that it had been pouring down rain earlier that morning and it looked as though the hark angels were about to come down and sound the trumpets. It was really fun; we all got a chance to get to know each other and talk more about ourselves, where we’re from and what we’re most excited about in regards to our day trip in London. Of course, I got my stereotypical London telephone booth picture.
It’s so scary how London reminds me so much of home, more specifically SoHo. It has like the perfect balance of old and new architecture with this sort of minimalistic feel. It’s so beautiful and the people are so clean and well-dressed. Self-fashion is definitely a thing in this neck of the woods. We took plenty of pictures of the Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Big Ben (where we ended up seeing Donny McHottie again) and even the embassies for New Zealand and Australia.
We also came across this rather impressive consortium of statues paying tribute to some of the most important figures in history such as Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Ghandi and Nelson Mandela. You know I had to take a picture or five with my main man Mandela. As the night drew closer, we walked around this strip by the London Eye and discovered this sort of recreational area. They had an aquarium, the London Dungeon (this sort of thriller-horror walkthrough haunted house that tells all the tales of London’s darkest history), a Shrek adventure family ride and Madame Tussauds. I haven’t been since I was a Girl Scout so Lord only knows how long that’s been.
All in all, the tour was pretty awesome. The day went by pretty slowly, but in the best way possible. Taking my time to explore the city of London with new friends was a priceless and breathtakingly amazing experience that I couldn’t and wouldn’t want to trade for anything else in the world. I’m supposed to be going back to London this weekend with my friends, but let’s see how my funds are. Maybe I’ll pick myself up a well-dressed preppy London boy.