How do I even begin to highlight some of the adventures from our five day “weekend” trip to London and Dublin? What seemed like a far off dream officially became reality this weekend, and I cannot think of a better way to celebrate Courtney’s birthday!
Thursday was a holiday in the south of Spain, allowing us to leave bright and early and take the bus from Sevilla to Madrid to catch our flight to London. The bus ride took about six hours, and we encountered some interesting weather along the way! Yes… we really did see snow in southern Spain! Our yummy homemade lunches and lots of talking and music made the bus ride pass quickly. At the airport we met some fellow Spanish students who were also going to London over the long weekend. It was neat to meet them and to share stories and experiences from our time abroad. On the plane I was able to sit next to a wonderful young woman from Madrid who was only a few years older than me. A few minutes in to talking, she asked me if I was from the south because she noticed my Andalusian accent. I could have cried of happiness!! I enjoyed talking with her during the flight and was encouraged to hear that my spanish is improving!
We arrived in London around seven in the evening, and took an hour bus ride from the airport to Victoria Station in the heart of the city. Our walk from the station to our hostel was perfect for seeing some of the most popular sites! We walked by Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and Parliament, the Thames River, the London Eye and even snapped some pictures of the classic red phone booths before hailing a taxi to take us the rest of the way to the hostel. We were not accustomed to the chilly weather of London!
We were pleasantly surprised with how neat our hostel was and Friday morning we enjoyed a yummy complimentary breakfast before starting our crazy day. We walked EVERYWHERE! We traced our path afterwards and discovered that just our walking from site to site was ten miles. To start the day, we walked from our hostel to Buckingham Palace, and had the chance to see the changing of the guard. We were joined by a few other people (you know.. just a few tourists), but despite the crowds enjoyed this neat piece of tradition. Afterwards, we walked through St. James Park before finding a cafe close to Big Ben to enjoy a warm cup of coffee and our first “fish and chips” during our stay in London. It was delicious, and exactly what we needed to cut the cold!
After lunch, we walked along the river and weaved through the streets of London to find St. Paul’s Cathedral. It was absolutely stunning and we had the chance to see some of the inside before making our way to London Bridge. At the bridge we discovered a “secret staircase” that lead us to a path where we could walk along the river with stunning views of the Tower Bridge. We walked the whole way to the London Tower and spent about two hours there. The Tower is home to the Crown Jewels! It was really neat to see so many different pieces of history at the Tower. Afterwards we walked across the river on the Tower Bridge (London’s pretty bridge) to the other side of the river where we went to Borough Market. This is an outdoor market that sells a wide variety of items, and we enjoyed a delicious homemade soft pretzel. We walked back to the other side of the river and eventually made our way back to Big Ben where we met up with my good friend Carlie and her friend Mark who is studying abroad in Scotland and was able to visit for the weekend. Carlie and I have been friends since first grade and have experienced so much together and it was so neat to meet up with her in London! We enjoyed dinner together and afterwards she bought me her favorite strawberry kiwi cider to share. It was the perfect ending to a great day!
St. Paul’s Cathedral
The next morning we once again enjoyed our complimentary breakfast at our hostel (including the awesome Spanish style coffee) and we made our way to the London Eye. It takes about a half an hour for the eye to make a complete revolution, and we enjoyed the beautiful views of the city. Before walking back to the bus station, we were also able to tour Westminster Abbey, best known for the recent wedding of William and Kate. Unfortunately we were not able to take any pictures, but the church is absolutely stunning. We walked over the graves of many different people such as Charles Darwin and one of my all-time favorite composers, Ralph Vaughan Williams. We got a much needed cup of coffee before boarding our bus to take us back to the airport. The flight from London to Dublin was beautiful, and the sun was just beginning to set in the evening sky as we left London, what is now definitely one of my favorite cities.
Courtney and I riding the London Eye!
View from the London Eye of Big Ben and Parliament
We landed in Dublin and took the city bus from the airport to our hostel. After getting a little lost, we finally checked in to our hostel before heading to “The Bleeding Horse” and enjoying a burger and a pint. Courtney and I both have Irish heritage and it was neat to be able to experience this city together!
Sunday morning we started off the day with some delicious homemade pancakes at our hostel and then made our way to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. After exploring we came to the conclusion that the outside may be prettier than the inside! We wandered and found a small café where we enjoyed a cup of coffee before walking past the Dublin Castle (it was under construction so we could not explore) and finally making our way to Trinity College to view the Book of Kells, an ancient manuscript written in Latin of the four gospels of the New Testament. Unfortunately we could not take any pictures, but we were able to snap a few shots of the Old Library at the college. Upon getting lost on our way to the Guinness brewery, we found the oldest pub in Ireland and enjoyed lunch there. Afterwards we began our tour of Guinness brewery, which is actually housed in the world’s largest pint glass! We learned the history of the company, and enjoyed learning how to pour our own pint of Guinness that we were then able to enjoy on the seventh floor “atrium” bar that provided stunning 360 degree views of the city of Dublin. We made our way back to the hostel and stopped to buy a chocolate cake that we then enjoyed in celebration of Courtney’s birthday. We went out for dinner and one last pint on Grafton Street to wrap up a fabulous day in the city of Dublin.
Inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Old Library inside Trinity College
The Oldest Pub in Ireland where we enjoyed lunch
Learning how to pour my “perfect pint”
We arrived home around 4:30am Tuesday after spending the entire day Monday traveling and studying in the airport. It was a truly phenomenal weekend, and I am so glad that I was able to share it with Courtney and celebrate her birthday with her. We are spending the upcoming weekend in Lisbon, Portugal! I cannot wait! I hope that everyone is doing well. Miss you all very much!