Tag Archives: London

The Hunt for Scones: London Round 2

Warning:

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If you don’t like British guys turn back now.

So the last week in February was “winter break” in France. “Winter break?” you may ask. “Isn’t that the same thing as Christmas Break?” Well while the two may be synonymous in the US, in France winter break is an extra break for either one or two weeks at the end of February!

 

Don't question it
Don’t question it

So I decided to take full advantage of this fortuitous break and head over to the UK and visit London and Edinburgh… and a couple places in between.

I actually headed out to London by myself and spent the whole day wandering the city alone since the girl I was travelling with had class that day and wouldn’t arrive until late that evening. But since this wasn’t my first time in London I wasn’t worried. So after I hopped off the train and dropped my bags at the hostel I immediately went to Covent Garden, a cute little shopping area to buy some of Whittard’s Vanilla Shortbread tea which has to be the best tea I have ever had in my life – and I’ve had a lot of tea!!

I'm serious about my tea.
I’m quite serious about my tea.

Then I walked to this tea room I had looked up earlier, fully intending on grabbing lunch and then tea and scones there, but then I chickened out when I walked up to it. This would be my first time ever eating lunch by myself okay?

If only I could've had lunch and tea with these guys.
If only I could’ve had lunch and tea with these guys.

So I decided to go eat at Wagamama, an Asian noodle chain restaurant that is absolutely delicious. They don’t exist in Paris so that’s how I justified it. And so I ate lunch by myself for the first time (in a foreign country at that) and I survived!

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I was feeling quite proud of myself and independant at this moment so I mustered up the rest of my courage and walked back to the tea room and finally got to try scones in England, complete with clotted cream and jam.

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I was in food and tea heaven.
I felt as fancy as Tom Hiddleston
I felt as fancy as Tom Hiddleston

Then after my leisurely (two) meal(s) I decided to walk all the way to Shakespeare’s Globe Theater since it included a long stroll down the River Thames:

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Then I took a guided tour of the place complete with various theatrics and a summer camp full of kids cheering to “destroy” the “dragon” that was “burning” down the theater.

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In the gift shop I stumbled across the Shakespeare manga collection in the gift shop and I just had to take a picture:

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I’ll admit it. I bought “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” It was too unique to pass up!

After making my purchases, I walked all the way back to the British Museum. Man that was a long walk! The British Museum was thankfully free and I arrived just in time for a guided tour/explanation of the Rosetta Stone which is a stele inscribed with an official decree in three languages: Ancient Egypt hieroglyphs, Demotic script, and Ancient Greek. Since we already had knowledge of Ancient Greek, this stone tablet allowed us to begin to understand hieroglyphs!

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This rock is over 2000 years old.

I wandered past lots and lots of mummies… including Cleopatra’s!! and then stumbled across an exhibition on English propaganda during Napoleon’s time! As a French major and a history fan I laughed quite a bit:

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Napoleon would be the short guy.

Afterwards, it was pretty late I went back to my hostel to wait for my friend to arrive! My first day “travelling” by myself wasn’t too bad, but I was definitely feeling starved for human interaction by that evening!

The next day I re-did some of the typically touristy things such as the London Eye and the Tower of London with my travel buddy… and I stumbled across this in the Tube:

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The secret’s out!!
Nevermind. They've clearly known about this power they've held over us for quite some time...
Nevermind. They’ve clearly known about this power they’ve held over us for quite some time…

After the London Eye we went scone hunting which led us to a saturday market full of food… But no scones.

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I ended up grabbing some cheap, delicious Indian food for lunch, because the Brits understand Indian food a lot better than the French do!

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Following our first failure to find scones, we continued the hunt for the next hour, until we finally stumbled across a place that had tea and scones. Then I was presented with this conundrum:

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To add milk, or not to add milk to my Earl Grey tea?

Well, I added milk and didn’t really taste a difference…

Sherlock would have approved though
Sherlock would have approved though

But the scones were out of this world! One was with dark chocolate covered cherries and the other contained an assortment of fruits like apricots and blueberries!

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After our little tea break, we headed to the Tower of London to see the crown jewels (Moriarty wasn’t there unfortunately) and then we we went to Baker Street for dinner and passed by 221B Baker Street to find, much to my surprise, that the museum was still open!

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Then we had dinner at Nando’s, a Portuguese chicken restaurant chain that once again, does not exist in Paris! They have this wonderfully spicy lemon and herb sauce and I couldn’t go to London without stopping by again!

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The next day was essentially my whole reason for going back to London:

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The SHEEP. Just kidding, that’s Stonehenge in the background.

I’d always wanted to visit Stonehenge, but to tell you the truth I’d never had any idea where Stonehenge actually was! Turns out it’s only an hour or so outside of London, so I bought a ticket for a day trip to Stonehenge and Bath and basically got on a bus and was taken everywhere!

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After our little jaunt at Stonehenge we travelled to Bath, the location of Roman baths (hence the name) which were considered sacred at the time because they believed a goddess lived in the natural hot spring.

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My reason for going? It was also mentioned several times in Jane Austen’s novels as a chic vacation getaway!

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Of course I couldn’t leave England without eating Fish and Chips at least once:

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And then the next morning I woke up to an owl tapping at my window holding a letter in its beak… so off I went to Kings Cross Station!

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I will be continuing my study abroad at Hogwarts University!!!!

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But before heading off to my “new school,” I took a trip to Scotland which I will describe in my next blog post!

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Where has Emily been?

London, Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam to be exact!

This summer my parents decided to lead their students on a guided tour of Europe.

Blah blah blah all I heard when they told me about it was “trip to Europe!”

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This exactly, except in reverse since we went into London first

I have mixed feelings about my first “big tour” experience. Honestly, The introvert in me didn’t being part of a 80 something strong group. The fact that a majority of these 80 something people were all 13 or 14 year olds did not help either. The biggest thing however was that the entire 8 days I was there I spent yearning to go off and explore on my own. This is the unfortunate thing about a scheduled tour. Everything is set into stone and you cannot deviate from what the tour director has set.

For example, while in London our tour made a stop at St. Paul’s cathedral. Now I’m not religious, but when I see something that in one form of another has existed for over a millennium I would like to do more than stop inside for a group bathroom break.

Exactly.
Exactly.

Also, because we were a group of 80 something people and because we all absolutely had to stick together at all times, dinner was not ideal. There were no menus. We ate what was given to us. This is completely fine if the restaurant happens to be serving a local recipe, but again without a menu you don’t even know the names of the dishes your eating, much less know if there are any allergens inside said dishes. How was I supposed to know that the vanilla ice cream we were served was chock full of ground up nuts? That one made for a very unpleasant evening. If my allergy was more severe or if I had not had my medicine with me, I could have died.

Then again, if you are a person who has not traveled outside of the country before, or are quite young, a tour might be perfect. It provides a safe environment to learn how a foreign country’s infrastructure and culture work so that the next time you decide to travel, it can be on your own.

Thankfully, the next time I travel, I will be on my own. For a year… Oh my.

To keep things as short as this trip was I will give you my top 3 favorite things and 2 least favorite things from each city.

London:

+1. British accents: I could live in London the rest of my life just to hear their accents every where I go. Basically, everything you’ve ever imagined about accents is true. An offshoot of this is I discovered I loved hearing all of their quirky words and phrases that you never hear in America!

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+2. My inner nerd: I have to admit I was fangirling over the entire city. Especially when I saw the crown jewels…

Watch it. Watch it now.

+3. The varied architecture: London did not have a Haussmann to tear down streets and re-build London with one uniform design. Ironically, one of my favorite things about Paris is what makes London so refreshing to me: the variety!

A bird's eye view... or maybe just an eye's view since this is from the London Eye...
A bird’s eye view… or maybe just an eye’s view since this is from the London Eye…

-1. It was too American: It was just weird to walk into a store and hear Avicii playing on the radio. There’s absolutely no reason for them to NOT play Avicii or American music, but I guess I expected more Beatles and One Direction.

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Also… There were Starbucks everywhere. More Starbucks than I have ever seen in one place. There were literally 3 on the same tiny street. Two of those three could have fit into a photograph if I’d thought to take one. They were completely separate stores yet less than 100 feet from each other! You think living in London would mean you would miss American food. Nope! They had everything from KFC, to Chipotle and Five Guys!

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-2. Pollution: **WARNING** TMI right here! I started to feel a little sick my second day in London and so while blowing my nose I discovered that all the snot coming out of my nostrils was black. My snot was black. Boy that freaked me out. It freaked me out so much so that I then decided to blow my nose in every city we went to on the trip from that day forward. My snot did not suffer from the same discoloration at any city after London… which means that I was breathing in black stuff in London. Nasty.

Don’t believe me? Here’s an article about pollution in London.

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Scary Stuff

 

So now this post is already ridiculously long so stay tuned for updates on my city-soul mate, belgium chocolate, and my secret life as a time travelling Dutch girl which has absolutely nothing to do with those magic truffles I saw in Amsterdam. Promise!

Don’t miss a single blog post of my entire adventure! Please subscribe (click Follow blog via email in the column on the right!) to receive this blog’s updates via email! Also, I love getting feedback so please comment!