Photos of the Final Weekend

Taylor Haggerty
July 13, 2015
A picture of Big Ben and the London Bridge from the London Eye.

I landed in London late on Thursday evening, with two full days to see as much of the city as I possibly could. I stayed with my friend Jessie, who offered to show me around her favorite parts of the city on Friday. We took to the streets that morning ready for a full day of walking out in beautiful sunshine, which, as I understand it, was extremely lucky and unusual weather for the area.

Our first stop was the British National Museum, where I got to explore exhibits on the history of Egypt, Greece, Rome, and various African traditions as well as that of England and other parts of Europe. We went from there to the Covent Gardens for some window shopping and further exploration. There were plenty of street performers out and about, including an opera singer. We heard him long before we ever saw him, and for a while after we'd passed him by!

From there, we made our way to the South Bank for a bite to eat. Children ran about in their bathing suits, both along the River Thames and in the fountains of the square. It was a lovely day for it; I was almost disappointed that I couldn't join in on the fun.

Following that, we made our way to a circus performance in the Peacock Theater by a group called The Seven Fingers, called Traces. The show was, by far, the absolute highlight of my trip; the performers were engaging, personable, and extremely talented. I regret to inform you all that photography was prohibited during the event, as it almost always is, and so you'll just have to take my word for it. If ever you get the chance, though, I would highly recommend you see it for yourself.

The following day was my own, explicitly for visiting the more traditional and stereotypical haunts for tourists like myself. I started the day bright and early with a visit to the London Eye. The view was spectacular, but I was almost more impressed by the structure itself. The Eye towered over every building it stood beside, and I could see it from at least a mile away.

My next stop was, of course, Big Ben. Jessie has since informed me that Big Ben is actually the name of the bell inside the tower, and not the clock itself; that is St Stephen's Tower. As I was not permitted to go inside the tower and see the actual bell, I guess it wouldn't be completely accurate to say that I saw him. I'm going to anyway, because I got awfully close.

My next stop was Westminster Abbey. Again, I didn't go inside the abbey itself; the line was incredibly long, and admission prices were a little higher than I was willing to pay. The outside was pretty enough to make up for that, though, and I was satisfied after wandering around on the lawn for a little while. I even found a tiny festival happening in the Dean's Yard next door, and spent an hour or two there enjoying the different tents and games set up there.

Buckingham Palace turned out to be a little less satisfying than I had anticipated, but that was entirely due to the fact that you can't actually go inside. The gates are closed to visitors, so you have to satisfy yourself with the gardens and parks outside rather than seeing the Palace from within. It's a practical decision and I see why they've made it, but I do wish I could have gotten a little closer than the front gates.

I moved on to spend most of my afternoon in Hyde Park, starting with a picnic just inside the front gate. The park is gigantic and absolutely full of cyclists and pedestrians; it offered a wonderful opportunity to people-watch from the shade of a tree. I enjoyed a sandwich and some ice cream before moving along the sidewalk into the grounds.

The park is home to the Serpentine, a small man-made lake that stretches through the center and divides Hyde Park from Kensington Gardens. The lake has plenty of fish, birds, and other wildlife, as well as signs asking you not to interfere with the ecosystem by swimming or fishing outside of the designated areas. Feeding the birds, though, didn't seem to be an issue; every few feet along the edge of the lake, birds were being fed by families with loaves of bread.

The birds didn't have any issues with people getting close to them. I was able to move in as much as I wanted for photos, even, and they wouldn't flinch or respond at all. I did, however, witness a pretty violent fight between two of the swans. They started out in the water, chasing and hissing at each other, before eventually making their way onto the sidewalk. It was a little scary being so close to them when they were so angry, but they hardly noticed me at all!

Between Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, I think I would choose Kensington as my favorite. It tended to be quieter and less populated, even on such a bright and sunny day. I sat at the crossroads of three different sidewalks and was undisturbed for nearly an hour and a half. The gardens are lined with trees and long grass, and they feel nice and secluded. It's almost hard to believe that London was just outside of the fence.

Within Kensington is another man-made pond, although this one is more obviously so. It's called the Round Pond and is situated just outside the Kensington Palace. Geese and ducks are again busily running from one handful of bread to the next, and families are seated alongside the border.

Just a little ways away is the statue of Queen Victoria, watching over the gardens. She is a large and imposing figure, and the statue is beautiful and clean in a way that a lot of the others aren't. The level of respect held for her through history is clear from that alone.

Again, entry to the Kensington Palace was a little more than I was willing to spare. I decided instead to have a snack at the small cafe attached to it and take a nap outside in the gardens. The gates here are just as beautiful as those at Buckingham Palace, so I was perfectly satisfied to admire them from the outside.

London is a beautiful city, especially with regards to the architecture. The old stone buildings, tucked into tight corners and placed alongside more modern constructions, create an interesting atmosphere of juxtaposing ideas. It almost feels like there are two different cities: the one that exists today, and the ghost of one that was there a long time before.

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Taylor Haggerty

<p>Hi! My name is Taylor Haggerty. I&#39;m twenty years old and currently go to school in Bloomington, Indiana, for magazine design and poetry. This summer I&#39;ll be studying English and history in Dublin, Ireland!</p>

Destination:
Term:
2015 Summer 1, 2015 Summer 2
Home university:
Indiana University
Major:
English
Journalism
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