Lili's Travel Diary #3: Touristing around Central London

Week one has been kind of intense for me. I got sick but was still determined to see London. I find myself kind of feeling guilty for those days where I just wanted to stay in bed because I felt I was missing out on doing things. I keep having to remind myself that I am here for 5 months, not 5 weeks, and will have time to explore when my body wants me too.

I have been feeling better despite my constant exploration so far. While I have been posting the highlights on my Instagram, I have a more comprehensive photo album on Facebook. Just comment or tweet me if you want to add me and we can figure it out!

The first bit of exploration that I did with a small group of people was London proper. We had been in London for 3 days and never really felt like we were in London. In some aspects, I keep comparing my admittedly posh area (central London) to NYC, but that's a post for another time. We wanted to see some of the landmarks uniquely associated with London, and it's on this little excursion that I felt like I would hack up a lung, but that I also felt like I was finally in England.
Buckingham Palace and me in one of my many 50 shades of neutral ensembles
Our first stop on Monday was Buckingham Palace. I went here back when I was 12 and came to London as a Student Ambassador, so I wasn't as surprised to see it as some of the others. It is known as one of the more disappointing palaces because, well, it isn't stereotypical palace-y. But with that in mind it is still a beautiful piece of architecture. You can see in the picture that the flag is flying which means the Queen was in residence the day I was there. And this is rumored to be a preferred home of the Queen of England, so I say it's pretty grand.

A short walk away is the world's favorite clock tower, Big Ben. We had no idea where we were going, so we just kind of followed the spire until we found it. I took the obligatory photo on the left next to the phone booth with Big Ben in the background. So London, vair posh. My friend took a nicer one on her real camera since all I have is a cell phone, but I have to say it came out pretty well. While walking in the direction of Parliament and Westminsters Abbey (yes we saw them, I have pictures but they're simply not as pretty as these), I noticed the gorgeous picture on the right where you can see the sun setting on Big Ben and the London Eye in the distance. I've ridden the eye before and cringe at how expensive it is, but I think I may ride it around the time I leave London as a proper farewell. It seems fitting.

The next day was a relatively calm day. We went to the British Museum because it was free entry. This museum is gorgeous, but I struggled with it. They have many exhibits on the Greeks and Romans, for example, which I see quite often at the museums in New York City. I found myself fascinated by the Egyptian exhibit and waved hello to the mummy of Cleopatra. They also had this really unique exhibit about clocks through the ages, some of which I am still convinced are not clocks. And even a money gallery that featured everything from coins to Harry Potter limited edition currencies and Disney dollars. I was a fan of those sections for sure. I am not the biggest museum person back home, but I want to change that in London.

Obligatory fish and chips happened on Thursday. We had different plans that involved staying outside but it was raining, so we wanted to be smart about it. As a vegetarian, I only got the chips, but they were so delicious. Baker Street, the street where Sherlock Holmes went on quite a few adventures, is less than a minute walk from my residence hall, so they have a lot of Holmes themed spots on the street ranging from hotels and eateries. It is quite cute. Plus, I knocked out a London delicacy to the best of my veg-head ability.

Thursday night involved a boat cruise where they take us around the river to socialize with other study abroad students. I can say I wasn't the biggest fan because
  • it was absolutely freezing out and I was still sick
  • a lot of people kind of grouped themselves based on programs and that was that
  • I have never encountered a DJ that sucked so badly
No, seriously. The DJ played Stayin' Alive on the dance floor! What even. I know there's different music in the UK, but they're not stuck in 1977.

On the boat cruise we went under the Tower Bridge, and I got the beautiful snap below. I got a shot of me with the bridge in the background, but my face is as red as a tomato because it was so cold, so I am sparing you (and myself) from having to look at it again.

The Tower Bridge lit up at night.
On our way back we passed the Tower of London, and being the tourist that I so badly do not want to be but realistically am, I could not resist yet another snap. I will be visiting it next week, I think, and can better talk about it then!

Classes start next week and I have a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday schedule with my earliest class starting at 1PM. I have to admit I am a fan. While I wish I had Mondays off, my class that day doesn't start until 2 so it gives me time to travel on the weekends and come in on Mondays and I have Wednesdays off to explore London. Plus Fridays off are always magical, especially since it is normal in America and a privilege here in the UK. I am currently pledging to explore a new neighborhood every Wednesday, but we'll see if that lasts or not! haha

Until next time...



  1. I'm going to see these sites for myself one day! Love that you were able to go on an adventure and see some real London landmarks ;) Hope you're feeling better!

    1. Thank you! This was a few days worth of adventures but I am feeling somewhat better? Not 100% but I've been hovering in the 90 percentile for a few days now.

  2. You're in London??! Welcome =] It's so funny how tourists will come and visit attractions I've never been rich enough to visit myself, lol. Yeah Friday is a special day here; people are like 'WEEKEEEEEND!!!!' and go and get drunk. O_O LOL jk! XD not all the time. A lot of people I know (including me) tend to stay at home, curl up and read. Interesting to read about your time here. Hope you're enjoying it. =]

    1. Thank you! I am studying abroad here through the end of May!

      Most everything I have done so far is free, so you are totally able to do these things yourself! Just may not appeal to you because they are so touristy.

      Friday was not about drinking for me haha it was the first time I got to indulge my inner HP nerd, which was a big deal for me hence it's own post.

      Friday night I did the light show and ended up at a pub to just talk with friends (I got some tea), so I went out but not to party. I am on a limited budget, so I don't want to spend ridiculous money on alcohol when I'd rather travel and experience Europe, you know?

      I am enjoying it! Still in the process of adjusting.

  3. Oh my gosh I'd love to see your other photos!!
    I've been on a Europe tour, I guess you could call it, for the past five weeks and London was my first stop. I loved it! So amazing that you get to be there for five months :D
    I'm sure your class schedule will be a breeze :) definitely time to explore different neighbourhoods while you're there!

    1. A Europe tour sounds like a dream though! I do not want to be confined to the UK in my time here, you know?

      Five months seems very daunting, but I am excited for the undertaking. <3

  4. I've been looking forward to this post, Lili! It looks like you're having a good time so far. Sucks that you're sick though, I hope you're feeling better now. My first moment where I truly felt like I was in London was when I came out of the tube at Picadilly Circus and was like WHOA, IT'S LONDON. Then seeing Big Ben and Buckingham Palace made it even more real.

    "I am not the biggest museum person back home, but I want to change that in London." ~ London's definitely the place to do that since the museums are free and there are so many of them. We only made it to the British Museum, but I had the V&A and one or two others on my list. I didn't want to spend too much time in museums since we were only there for a week-ish, but you've got lots of time to explore.

    Looking forward to seeing more of your London adventures! <3

    ~Marie @ Ramblings of a Daydreamer

    1. I am feeling better now! I found out they were shutting off the heat in the dorms from midnight to 6AM and my body kind of revolted for an entire week until they stopped doing that.

      I haven't actually gotten out of the tube yet at Picadilly...I just made a transfer there. Haha so much on the list to see one day!

      I know it's all free, so I think museums will be good for those days where I have no other plans and need a plan of some sort. That's what happened with the Tate. I also learned I need to be in the mood to go to a museum, because I wasn't in the mood for the British Museum and didn't get to enjoy it as much as I would have liked. I stopped after one perhaps I'll be going back.

      Thank you for being so supportive, Marie!