Mist in the Streets of Westminster

10.07 Onsdag, 5 Juni, 2013

After I finished my final exams on May 23, I packed up all my bags and headed off on my three week end-of-the-semester vacation – but not before turning in the key to my room in Lappis, a sad moment.  😥  My first stop on this trip was London!  I flew there on Saturday (May 25) and left on Wednesday (May 29).  I went with my friend Nikoletta and another one of her friends, and we had a great time in London!

British Flag

The British Flag

United Kingdom

A map of the United Kingdom

After arriving, we took the long bus ride into town from Stansted airport (and got stuck in a lot of traffic), then we had to eat – fortunately we found some pasties!  I thought that pasties were only in northern Michigan, but apparently they are also popular in Cornwall, so I took advantage of this and ate pasties whenever I found them, which was a lot! 😛


A Cornish Pasty

The next day, I went to church at the massive Westminster Cathedral (not Westminster Abbey), which was very close to our hostel.  After that, we went on a walking tour of London that started near Hyde Park and went past Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Parliament, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey.  The tour was interesting, and it gave us a good introduction to the city and showed us some of the most popular sights.  However, there was still much more to explore!  After the tour, we spent the rest of the day just wandering around, making our way through the St. James Park and the Soho district, where we stopped for fika.

Big Ben

Big Ben

  Phone Booths

The obligatory red phone booth photo

Monday was the museum day.  First, we walked through Harrods, a large and upscale shopping mall (not my idea, but my friend wanted to have a quick look – fortunately, we only stayed for 20 minutes!), then we visited the Victoria and Albert Museum (historical artifacts from all over the world), the Natural History Museum, and the Science Museum.  They weren’t the most exciting museums I have ever been to, but at least they were all free.  Anyhow, we were hungry and tired after all this, so we stopped for lunch to have fish’n’chips!  Delicious!


A street near our hostel

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

After we ate, we wanted to take a tour called the “Grim Reapers of London” tour.  The problem was that it was literally on the other side of the city.  I always knew that London is a big city, but I still learned something that day: London is a BIG city.  My friends didn’t want to pay to take the public transportation, which I would gladly have done, so we set out on foot from near Hyde Park towards the Tower of London.  About halfway there, my friends started falling behind and I realized that we were going to miss the tour if we didn’t hurry up.  So, I decided to go on by myself and they went back to the hostel.  I ended up running as fast as I could along the River Thames, probably looking ridiculous because I was in jeans and a sweatshirt and holding a map, for about twenty minutes.  I finally arrived at the meeting point for the tour, out of breath, five minutes late, and over an hour and a half after leaving the restaurant.  Fortunately, the tour hadn’t left the starting point yet, so I was able to join!  And it turned out to be very interesting (and worth the long walk to get there!).  We learned about ghosts and haunted buildings in the East End district, and we followed the path of Jack the Ripper and learned about all of his killings.  Unlike in Stockholm, the sun set at a somewhat reasonable time, so it was dark during much of the tour…ooo…scary!  😛  When the tour was over, I decided that I didn’t want to make the hour-and-a-half trek back across town, so I went to the Liverpool Street Station – supposedly the most haunted station in London due to the insane asylum that once stood there – and took the subway back to the hostel (which was still quite a long trip!).

London Skyline

London Skyline

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge – Not London Bridge!

On Tuesday, I split up with my friends once again, as they wanted to see Madame Tussaud’s wax museum, but I wasn’t interested enough to be willing to pay the £30 entrance fee.  So, they went to do that, and I took a walk through Hyde Park.  Then, in the afternoon, I went on yet another walking tour, which covered the old town, or the ‘City of London,’ which is actually a politically distinct entity from the rest of London – even the Queen has to ask permission to enter the City of London.  The tour was quite interesting, and the guide taught us a lot about the history of the city (plus, there were only four people on the tour, so it was almost like a private tour!).  We even saw places such as the oldest shop in London, the building used as Gringotts bank in the Harry Potter movies (it’s actually the Australian embassy), and the location where a baker once forgot to turn off his oven, subsequently burning down the entire city.  At the end of the day, I was very glad that I didn’t go to the wax museum, because my friends ended up waiting for five hours just to get in!

St. Paul's Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge

St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge

Hyde Park

Hyde Park

That night, my friends stayed up all night in order to catch their 5 AM flight back to Stockholm, and I slept in!  The next morning, I just walked around to get one last look at the city before heading to the airport myself.  On to stop number two: Norway!

As for the title of this post, it’s just a song reference – we actually had excellent weather.  It only rained one out of the four days we were in London!

About Aaron

Hej – I'm Aaron! When I'm not working my regular job, I love to travel, study languages (svenska anyone?), and learn about history and culture. I'm also a "pandemic cook" attempting to learn the secrets of Indian cuisine from my apartment in Texas!
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7 Responses to Mist in the Streets of Westminster

  1. Dad says:

    Were the pasties like the ones we got in the UP?

  2. Dad says:

    I stood in some of the same spots in your photos last October. In fact, I stayed right next to the tower bridge!

  3. Pasties were supposedly originally invented in Cornwall ( Cornish Girl here!) to take down the tin mines. They were perfect because you could use the crust as a handle, and throw it away when you were done thus avoiding eating the Arsenic that was everywhere down in Cornwall. They used to be made half savoury and half sweet, so you got a desert in your pasty and didn’t need to carry more stuff with you.

    During the 19th century, Cornish people migrated abroad across the whole world to work in other mines when the boom in Cornwall disappeared. They took the idea of pasties with them. As a result, you can find them the world over. There’s a saying that ‘wherever in the world there’s a hole in the ground at the bottom you’ll find a Cornishman digging for metal’. There’s a festival in Cornwall every few years called Dehwelans Kernow, which is cornish for ‘homecoming’, in which large numbers of the descendants of these tin miners return from across the globe and basically we have a huge party

    However, Cornish pasties are now protected. Unless they were made in Cornwall, they can’t be called Cornish anymore (same as you can’t call it champagne unless it’s made in Champagne)..

    I hope you enjoyed your visit to the UK, sorry for the random deviation into the history of pasties XD

    • Aaron Braden says:

      That makes sense – I heard the same thing about the crust in Michigan. Although there were probably people in Cornwall long before Michigan :p. Also, the stand that I got the pasties from said “handmade in Cornwall”, so i suppose my caption is still valid!

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