London Revisited

By AteTinTin

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So here I am again, at ABIA a waiting for my flight out. This time I'll be going to London to assist in the Common Book Program. It's my first time taking students abroad but I feel like all the stress this week has brought me to a place of peace now.

I am eating the last of my fridge food at Ruta Maya drinking my cuppa joe and reading a book. I'm excited for this trip. I have not been back to London for a while and I might see Rachel on this trip.

We'll see what this trip has in store for me.

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I'm on my way to Charlotte and I was lucky enough to snap an exit row seat. Yes, I know I'm short so what do I need he extra legroom for, you ask. But hey no matter how short you are extra leg room is always nice. Plus I put my personal item under the chair in front of me so I was still able to stretch out a bit.

I packed light this trip because I did not want to have to cart around my rollie. Plus I left room in my wardrobe to buy clothes in London.

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I text Katrina when I landed to get her input about where to eat. She suggest Bojangles, but when I walked out there I realized that it was nothing but fried chicjpken, which is my least favorite food ever. Plus I wanted something a little lighter. So I had sushi in the middle of the concourse which was pretty good.

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Second leg of the journey and I am finally on to London. Remind me to never again go on American Airlines. This is probably one of the oldest planes I have been on. I know it sounds snobby but I just wasn't expecting it and this is a long enough flight where the plane can make a difference.

Sometimes it's a miracle for me to see how I pass a several hours in a flying metal tube. We have about 5 hours to go on this flight and I'm hoping I can sleep, I am just not sure if this is possible. In Austin, I bought an expensive ass neck pillow, but it has definitely been worth it. It's a memory foam one. It's got so many thoughtful things on it, it's crazy. Normally during a flight I don't read the in flight magazines, but when I pulled out the magazine I saw Chris Evans and I had to stare at the pictures and read the article. Yeah, I did drool a bit. It was pretty damn awesome pre-sleep reading. I see good dreams in my future.

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It may still be technically breakfast, but I've been up all night. For some reason I just was not tired enough to sleep. So here I am eating an early early lunch of a falafel salad bowl with homemade hummus and four different types of falafel: Apple, sun dried tomato, kalmata olive, and original. They were all so good! This is exactly what I needed to start my trip here: an outdoor market allowing me to sit outside and people watch until my Houses of Parliament tour.

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So I won't lie, one of the reasons why I wanted to stay at the Draycott is for the little stuffed bear that comes on every bed. I mean look at how cute he is! I was hoping that I would get to keep one if I stayed here, but that is not the case. I was thinking about buying one, but it was way TOO EXPENSIVE. Oh well, I'll just have to settle for a picture of them.

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As per usual, my quest for a great cup of coffee extends even to my work trips. Staying in Chelsea gives me great access to the cool hipster coffeehouses of the area. I read about this coffeehouse in American Londoners blog about the area. This cafe is located a bit off the beaten path in a neighborhood that you would not think there were a lot of cafes, but there are couple cute places on this street. Tomtom Coffee House is really nice but very small and very busy. I did get a seat but the waiter never came to see me. After 10 minutes of waiting, I figured it was best that I do take away. The manager felt so bad he gave me a free cup of Americano. It was pretty good, but does not really stand out as the best I've ever had. The atmosphere of the cafe was nice and it made me wish I had time to do a full meal here, but that would have to be another time.

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So when I signed up to stay at the Draycott, I knew it would be nice. I would have never dreamed it would be THIS nice. I am in the Ellen Terry Room which is a small single. The room is done in these riches color that just make you think old world. It's gorgeous. I am so glad I got to stay here. They have such nice things and they even have free alcohol all day, tea at 4 pm, and hot chocolate at night. The closest place to this is the historical hotel I stayed at in Philadelphia. However that lace does not even come close. At the Darycitt it's about the personal touches, like the teddy bear in the room and personalized note with homemade shortbread.

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It has taken 11 years for me to finally see the inside of the Houses of Parliament. I felt like this trip to London would be the perfect time to visit because I had some time the day I arrived. I figured it would be a good way to get me into the city center and allow me time to also go to Waterloo to pick up the rail tickets for the kiddos.

When I got inside I realized that jet lag had really hit me. I was sore and tired from the plane ride but I was trying to soldier through. Both houses were smaller than I thought they would be, but the history and the tradition of each chamber was really interesting. It was so cool to see something that I had seen so many times before. I am glad to finally see it from the inside.

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Before I came over I read about a show celebrating the 53rd Anniversary of Alice in Wonderland. It is an interactive play that takes place in the Waterloo Vaults. Since I needed to pick up the rail tickets for the program, I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone by going directly to the Vaults to see if they have any general tickets.

It took me a while to find this place because the info desk at Waterloo Station didn't seem to know. I wandered out the exit and walked down to this store called "The House of Vans." The people in there seemed to know what I was looking for and pointed me in the right direction. Thank God. Not only did I find it, but I was also able to get tickets! Woo hoo!

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One of the reasons why I wanted to stay at the Draycott was the afternoon tea that came with the stay. I didn't want to do something too elaborate, like the Ritz, but I wanted that experience. It was cool and the common area they have for the guests is perfect. The sat and ate some cookies and then stared at the shared garden what a sight to see.

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Chelsea is an amazing neighborhood of London. It's hard not to fall in love with London when Chelsea is where you are staying. As you can tell, this part of London is ridiculously rich and privileged borough. The architecture is impeccable and the stores are almost all high end goods. I knew that it was affluent, but you don't really understand how affluent until you see the Range Rovers, BMWs, and Teslas that drive the streets. I did not see a cheap vehicle in this area the entire time. I wish I had more time here, but alas work has brought me to London and this girl has got to work tomorrow.

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In the time since I was in London, cycling has become a more important part of transportation. The system is pretty good and really affordable. It is £2 for the entire day, but you have to return the bike every 30 minutes to another station. This proved to be the most difficult part of the system, but not too bad. I figured Chelsea would be the best place to try them out because it's small and I knew that there was a station at Battersea Park. I'm a bit nervous with traffic, but let's see how this goes.

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After eating dinner, I didn't want to waste my one and only night in Chelsea. So I decided to do the London Rent-A-Bike and navigate the streets of Chelsea to see Battersea Park and other parts of Chelsea. The park was really beautiful because it sat along the Thames and the sun illuminated the Chelsea Bridge and Temple perfectly. I wish I could have stayed longer but I wanted to make sure that I got the bike back in time. This is a drawback with this system.mi will admit that the ride was a bit nerve racking because I didn't really know where I was going. I probably looked a bit foolish to people driving. Who cares though?! I had a fun time and had a cool experience.

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This is not the worse place I've stayed but it's not the best. The staff is friendly but the hotel is old and kind of crappy. My room is tiny, but at least I don't have to share it with anyone and my view isn't horrible. I get to see the BT Tower every morning like I did when I first came to London those 12 long years ago. It was a different time and a very different me.

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Well, I bit the bullet and I took a cab from Chelsea because the thought of coming on the tube and changing lines made me want to die. So I taxied over and went to Sainsbury's for some yogurt to eat what's left of my blueberries from M&S. As I walked down the high street, I saw that there happens to be a Catholic Church with a service at 10 am! Perfect. I owe God mass because I have so much to be thankful for.

I wanted to soak up the gorgeous sun so ate ate my yogurt outside on the patio. The lobby is nice but I'm in London, I don't want to be stuck indoors when all of London awaits.

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Originally, I had no plans of going to mass because I did not think I had enough time to do it. However when I walked down Queensway, Our Lady Queen of Heaven popped up. It only had only mass and I was early enough to attend it. I figured it was God sending me a message and I better heed it.

The Church was really unique because the inside is circular and had three levels of seating. I wished I could have sat in the upper level, but no one could seem to get to it, which made the first floor packed.

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The last time I was in London for our flat reunion in 2008, I fell in love with Caffe Nero. This place has some of the best coffee I have had in London. I think it is as good as the espresso I had in Italy! I was dying for a espresso from here!

I ended up on Tottenham Court Road because Savannah thought she missed the shuttle from Heathrow. She ended up in a taxi with a girl on a different study abroad program from Texas A & M whose hotel was in the Bloomsbury area. I felt bad for her and I offered to help her get there on the tube. It was more of a pain in the ass than I thought it would be because Tottenham Court Road was closed from the Central Line. Once we got her to the hotel, I promised Tiara and Mari that I would take them to Nero. I swore there was one Tottenham Court Road, but the problem was I went the wrong way. So we got lost at first and at second then at third. But we did find it eventually! And boy was it worth it.

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Tonight marks the night that we are all together for this London trip. Everyone seems nice and pretty upbeat. Hopefully we can sustain this momentum for the trip. Since we are a large group we ordered pizza by the meter. We ordered three pizzas a seafood pizza called Del Golfo (.5 meters), a pancetta, sausage, mushroom, olive and chili pizza called a Zingara (1 meter), and a caprese pizza (1 meter). The waiter told us that we could not fit all three on the table so we had to have each pizza come in stages. It was really funny because I don't think we could comprehend exactly how much pizza were were eating, when they came we finally saw what the waiter meant. It was damn good pizza though.

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It seems that London has fallen pray to the random animal art craze that has taken over other cities. Seattle was the pig, San Diego was the cow, and London has it's sheep. Shaun the sheep is the name of this curious creature. They are at least cute cartoon-y sheep, but still sheep. Some of them are pretty cool. I don't plan on looking for them, but if I see them I will definitely take a picture.

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I have been dying to come to the Tower of London, since I first came to London 12 years ago. It was just too expensive for me to justify. I am so glad to have waited to come here though because they have extensively renovated it. Plus having Nigel as our personal tour guide will make this visit.

As soon as we got in the gate, Nigel put a show on! He yelled at the top of his lungs told us the doom that awaited those who try to break into the Tower. He caused quite a commotion and his act was punctuated by the Welsh guardsmen who passed behind us.

I was really tired by this time and so were the students. However the chance to see the Crown Jewels powered us through. And let me tell you the jewels were totally worth it. I mean the largest diamond in the world is in the collection. How awesome is that?! I can't believe that someone has actually worn all of that jewelry. I'm jealous.

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I never normally crave noodle soups but today was cold all day and we spent so much time walking in it that hot soup was thoroughly called for. I looked up Ramen in London and came across the restaurant called Tonkatsu. The reviews seemed good but, then I read on one review about a restaurant called Koya. He said that the noodles were much better there. Both of them were in the same area so I decided that Koya was the restaurant I'd go to.

The restaurant was very simple inside and on the blackboard, it said that this is one of the last weeks it was going to be open. So that pretty much sealed the deal for me, even though it was Udon and not ramen. A couple next to me suggested that I try the Kinoko, which was a vegetarian udon with mushrooms and walnut miso. Boy was I glad I did that. It was so yummy and the miso was surprisingly sweet. But still in good contrast with the soup.

This is exactly why I needed. Now I only have to go home, take a shower, and apply heat patches to my spazmatic back.

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Day 2 and the breakfast seems to be the same as it was before, just a change up with the eggs. Instead of fried over easy we have scrambled. Not the best, but I think I'll still be using my mornings for a chance of a good cup of coffee.

What's on for today? We're taking the rail to get out of Central London to visit the Langdon Down Museum Trust. I have no idea what it's about but I hope it's interesting.

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So today I decided to take a chance on a British bar producing decent nachos. It couldn't be that bad, could it? Well, it wasn't horrible. The chips were kind of Dorito-ish with taco seasoning on the top that didn't bother me but the salt basically dried out Mari's mouth and lips. They were decent... but to be fair I didn't know what to expect. They were cheap and tasty and that is all I could ask for.

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Nothing like eggs, beans on toast, and a costa coffee. Of course, I woke up early to walk to Costa Coffee to get some proper coffee. Today is going to be a busy day because I need to bring Mari to the GP. Hopefully it will all be good news and we will be able to join the group later. The rest of the kiddos are going with Nigel to Freud House and the Florence Nightingale Museum. Thank God Nigel is here to watch over the kiddos.

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We are in northwest London waiting for the surgeon to open and see Mari. We decide to wait at a cafe called Four to Five. We have quite some time to kill so we order some coffee. Once I finished my coffee I realize that we still a lot of time to kill. Normally I'd suggest that we walk around but Mari's toe is so swollen it hurts for her to walk. So as I was looking around the cafe I saw one of the patrons with a great looking mint tea. I wanted to see if it was as good as it looked. Verdict? They do it right here.

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We got done quickly at the surgeon once we got in to see him. We went back to Bayswater first and filled Mari's prescription at Boots. I grabbed lunch and coffee from Pret-a-Manger and ate a muffin while we waited at Boots. Once she got it, we rushed to Westminster to try and catch the group at the Florence Nightingale Museum in South London. We walked got off at St. James and then walked through Westminster Abbey area to cross the Westminster Bridge. Mari had not seen this area before so we stopped for a few pictures. We met Nigel on the bridge and said our goodbyes. I'm sad we won't see him again because he's really good. I'll miss him.

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This is a really cool museum. It's tiny but it was done in a very modern and kind of hipster style. When I first found out we were coming here I wondered how they would build an entire museum around her, however they expanded the museum to cover nursing as a whole. I like it. It was small and didn't take me long to see everything even though everyone was done. We all walked out together when I saw everything.

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After being at the doctor's office, all I wanted to do was walk around and enjoy the London scenery. Albert Embankment is one of my favorite ways to enjoy the city because you see a lot of cool landmarks and it is continuous. Plus, there is way more art on the Albert Embankment. I even saw another Shaun the Sheep! This time this one was solid gold. It looked really cool agains the city skyline.

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This was seriously the BEST show I have ever seen. When you come in you get a stamp on the inside of your right wrist and are immediately taken into the room where you meet Alice through the looking glass. It took me on an interactive ride through Wonderland. In my storyline, I was the Jack of Diamonds and we were full supporters of the Queen of Hearts. We got to meet Humpty Dumpty, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter. We also got to see the the Clovers (through spy holes in the room) steal bites from the Queen's cake! There was a hot guy who was on the Clover's who I got to sit next to during the Tea Party. He was so cute, but he was with people (Sadness). At the end, you end up at the Wonderland Bar where I could have chatted him up but I did not have any money.

I told some of the students about the show, so Dylan, Sydney, and Daniel got tickets. After I got out from the bar, they were nice enough to wait for me.

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The night was still early after the play and I offered to take Dylan, Sydney, and Daniel to Soho for some Post-Theatre food and drinks. We ended up at this place called Bar Soho because the ramen place I wanted to go to was closed. The bar played mostly pop and EDM which wasn't our style, but they had good drinks by the pitcher and it was a nice starter bar.

I was trying to not eat at this point since I had a couple of drinks, but after a little bit I got hungry. I succumbed to the hunger and got a Chicken Kebab near by. I wanted to eat Kebab at least once while I was in here, so that is off my checklist.

When I finally finished my dinner, a promoter hit us up to check out a bar for free. I did not know where else to go from here so this place sounded good. The club was called Zebrano and despite my apprehension the club was bumping. It was playing 90s Hip Hop. Dude, that's my jam. All of us were feeling it and killing it on the dance floor. After about an hour, I realized that we needed to get back to the tube before it closed. However I was not 100% sure what time it closed anymore. So we rushed out of the club to try and catch it.

Unfortunately, we missed the tube and I ended up getting us lost on a bus that was taking us to Edgeware. Eventually we took a bus back to Euston Station where we found a taxi to take us back to the hotel. Adventures on the Night bus for some of the students... CHECK. lol

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I've had a really late night last night, but I love these morning walks of mine. Last night I found out that there was a more scenic route to Portabello Road. The coffee shop I wanted to try was on it so it was perfect. I wanted to change things up and see different parts of our neighborhood.

It is such a beautiful morning right now. I mean look at this sky. It's a little nippy, but with the sun up and me walking it's not uncomfortable. I'm glad I have been taking time out in the morning to see the sights and try some of the local coffee haunts. I'm really excited about the one today because it is also a roasters. I will be able to buy some beans to take back home.

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This is the coffee shop that I have been dying to go to since coming to Bayswater. I had read about Coffee Plant and I was excited because it was the closest to me. You know me, I love roaster/coffee shops because they know how to make their coffee taste good and they take the time to do things right. Small roasters are where it's at. This is why it was worth he trek over.

The coffee in this place was amazing and the space was nice to people watch. When I first came in, there were a whole bunch of moms and kids who were ready to go to school. I wish all I had to do was to get great coffee and walk my kid to work. LOL. I honestly wish I could have stayed longer than I did, but I had to get back in time for the breakfast.

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We had about an hour for lunch before we headed off to Bethlem Museum of the Mind, so we had some English food at a little cafe called the Blue Angel. Daniel, Sydney, Mari, and Sara came with me to eat. We all order some fine British classics from a Turkish owner, chef, and staff. Daniel had the curry, Sara and Mari had the burger and chips, Sydney had bangers and mash, and I had corned beef and chips with a strong cup of coffee. The chips were good but the corned beef was fined corn beef that wasn't cooked. I'm not sure if this is normal or not because I've had it differently. I still ate it.

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Today we visited one of the most famous asylum in the world, Bethlem. It's rare to be able say that you have been to a place where a word was born. We get the word "bedlum" from this very hospital. We did not get to see the physical hospital but we did get to see some of the work of its patients and pictures of what the hospital looked like in the past. It was really interesting to see some of the patients work because a lot of the art expressed how they felt and saw the world. It was so cool to see that because it helped me understand a little bit better how their mind worked and how it made it difficult to function in the world. It s eye opening.

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On the plane to London, I had read about this upcoming restaurant in Portobello Road called Taqueria. I never expected to run across it, let alone actually go to it. However life, throws you some curves and you never know when Daniel will want to go inside.

So here I am sitting at the bar of an overpriced Mexican restaurant in London. The waiter is nice and attentive enough, but I feel a bit pressured to order food even though we just had a snack. Daniel was hoping to get a sangrita but finds out that it was not what he thought it was. So he decides to order a Bandera. I on the other hand decide to have a cafe con leche. The cafe con leche was amazing, which I was not expecting. I don't know if the Bandera was all that Daniel wanted but he did enjoy the mini quesadilla he had. Sydney ordered a margarita and it was pretty good too.

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Today we have a free day and I need a break from the beans on toast in the hotel. I never really noticed this bakery before, but in my search for the other Caffe Nero I ran into this place. Once I went inside I had to get breakfast because it was so cute and nothing on the menu said beans or toast. I ordered a bowl of porridge with fresh fruit and a slice of their banana cake with an Americano.

What a great change up! It was so refreshing and yummy. I never had porridge before. I thought it would be like oatmeal, but I was very different in a good way. I like it.

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I was afraid we would not be able to get tickets to see this because they were sold out online, however Daniel found out that they sold 100 tickets to the exhibit in the mornings. So Sydney, Daniel, and I hustled our little booties down to the V&A to see some of McQueen's amazing works. I'm sad we could not take pictures inside because the exhibit was AMAZING. They did a great job of grouping his work into themed rooms and presenting them in a way that McQueen would be proud of. I wish I could own some of the clothes. The pieces were beautiful.

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It took me while to find this place. I didn't realize how far up Portobello Road this place was. However once I found it, I was really underwhelmed. The place looked cool but was completely empty and the espresso was not good. The staff was friendly enough, but the coffee was definitely not worth the trek up here. It's a bummer but hey they can't all be great.

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In the time I've been to London, I have never done the Jack the Ripper Tour. Part of me thought it was uber touristy and something I would not like.

I was totally wrong though. The tour was really cool because it talks about a time in England that tends to be romanticized. It also allowed us to explore a neighborhood and to understand its place in London history. We were able to go to pretty inane locations and understand that something important happened there even though there was no plaque or way to mark it.nThe Jack the Ripper tour really gives a better indication of what that time looked like for the less fortunate and the poor. Interesting, but a bit scary.

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The East End of London has always been a colorful place. I did not realize how colorful the art here was. The murals were cool. They dotted the different metal doors of the stores in the area and covered some of the larger walls. It seems like everyone here makes an effort to decorate their security gates and walls. It's nice because it shows that they accept the cool artsy and young population moving in. Definitely a good place to explore.

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Not many people know this but London is made up of boroughs so similar to New York City. The only one known as the City of London is the part of the city with most of the financial institutions. It is the part of the city that has most of the skyscrapers, like the Gerkin and the Cheese Grater. I really did not like this area when I lived here but now I have an appreciation for the area and the buildings that touch the sky.

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This is my first visit to Warwick Castle. It is one of the weirdest castles I have been to. Madam Tussaud's bought it and put wax figures throughout castle that give it an eerie feel because you can walk through most of the rooms and come close to all of the figures. Sometimes it's hard to tell who is real and who is fake at first. Although I find the interior of the castles a little weird, the gardens that surround the castle are beautiful.

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I waited a long time to eat Chinese, but I'm glad I waited to eat it. The first Chinese restaurant we sat at made us feel like we should not have been there, so we walked down the street to see our other choices. When we finally sat down, we realized the restaurant was about to close so we decided to bring it back to the hotel and dine al fresco. I ordered some really yummy tofu dish that hit the spot and we shared dumplings for appetizer. Yummy, yummy for the tummy.

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Today is our first official free day so I have decided to visit Rachum in Oxford. This was all rushed because when I checked the night before nothing came up. I was afraid that the bank holiday and strike meant that nothing was leaving. Thank God I was wrong and I was able to high tail it over to Paddington for a quick train out. I had just enough time to stop and get a yogurt, blueberries, and a coffee for the trip over. One of the best breakfasts I have had here.

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I'm so excited to be going to Oxford to see Rachel because we have not seen each other since Pakistan in 2010 for Selu's wedding. It's a semi-semi-reunion for Flat 4AB!

Rachel picks me up from the airport and we go straight to her house so I can lighten my load before we see the Oxford sights. I have been to Oxford before but I didn't really know what to look for or where to go. This time I have an Oxford grad to show me her stomping grounds.

On our walk to her house, we had to take detour because the Oxford Park that she wanted us to walk through was closed and Police were all over the entrances to the park. We have no idea what's going on, hopefully they will open the park soon.

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Yes, I admit it. This is the first time I've had real high tea in the UK. But in my defense it's expensive and I was not sure if it was worth that. However this trip is different, it's a chance for me to try and see the UK things that I did not or could not do when I was here the first time. It's redemption. So here I am doing the high tea thing in Oxford. It's quite fitting. This place is one of the oldest cafes in Oxford! It's gorgeous and busy. Really busy. I didn't think I would like the little finger sandwiches or scones with clotted cream and preserves, but I did. I really did. It was yummy and worth the experience. Now I can say I truly did high tea.

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Oxford is your quintessential college campuses. You know the type of college campus that just makes you feel smarter. It has an energy to it that other special places in this world emanates. Most of the college campuses were closed for final exams but Rachel was able to get us past the guard because she is an alum and staff member. Trinity College is the first one we visited. It is right in the city center close to the Bodleian Library. It's funny that she ended up here because it was the last Catholic college of Oxford University and Trinity University was the uni her mum wanted her to attend. She did not even choose it, it just happened. I guess it was destiny.

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This was the last college visited, but it was the largest and most extensive that we saw today. The other colleges were pretty but crammed into small spaces. It made for some uniques layouts, but very cloistered. Which makes sense since Oxford was a monastery and university when it started. Merton was the complete opposite. It had larger square and gardens, they even had a large playing field just outside it's walls along the water! So beautiful.

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Of all the cuisines that I thought I could eat in Oxford, Chinese was not one of them. Apparently more and more of Oxford's, students are coming from East Asia especially China. Rachel and Peter were telling me that other than American style BBQ, Chinese restaurants are sprouting up fast. We ordered some pork, veggies, dumpling soup, and tofu. It was all spicy yuminess. I loved it.

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This is another highly recommended coffee house on my list. It was a cool place because it was not too far from where we stayed just across the Kensington Park. This place popping and it was located on a semi closed pedestrian way on Exhibition Road. The place was totally cute, but really busy. I ordered a jamon iberico bocadillo and a sparkling water. Simple but a really good sandwich on really great bread. I finished the meal off with a filter coffee that was good but a little cold. I got to sit outside to people watch which made my lunch even more entertaining.

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The overall theme for this trip has been my eternal search for cookies. I am trying to find something to top Mark & Spencer Cookies, but I am having a hard time doing so. I saw these guys and thought. Hey, if they have their own store front they can't be bad. Plus there is a line out the door for them. They had a lot of really interesting flavor like coconut and dark chocolate chunk. So they had me.

The cookies were good, but not great. It certainly didn't stop me from eating three of the four cookies I bought.

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It's taken a little more than a week, but I finally have made it to Kensington Palace. For some reason, I always thought that it was not possible to visit this palace because it was a residence for many of the royal family members. However the Palace is huge, and the part that visitors are allowed to visit is almost completely detached from the actual residences.

The palace does not look very special. When you go inside you do see a couple rooms, but nothing spectacular. The most interesting things I found in the palace was the art piece in the foyer and the exhibitions.

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I did not know where I wanted to eat before the Theatre, but I knew I wanted it close buy. Chris, Ana, and I wandered east on Albert Embankment and came across this Pizza Express. I had only eaten at Pizza Express once before, but I don't remember too much about it.

It turns out this place is pretty good! I loved it because they had a lower calorie menu where they put a whole in the middle of the pizza and put salad on top. I think the crust is thinner too. I liked it. It was a perfect meal to have right before the theatre.

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One of the new things I experience in this trip was to be a groundling at the Globe's performance of "As you like it." I have to admit that I do not particularly like Shakespeare because I have a hard time understanding it. However I forget that reading Shakespeare is far more difficult than watching it. I fully admit that I could not follow all of the story but I got it for the most part. The acting was really good and the characters and story were funny. It was hard on the feet too, but the play made it bearable. It didn't hurt that the actor who played Orlando was hot and shirtless for a short time. All the girls enjoyed that. In fact there were audible sad sigh when he put his clothes back on.

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Never the poetry buff, this was a trip I was not looking forward to. However seeing his home was really cool because it was a beautiful oasis from the streets of London. The gardens were beautiful and the interior of the house was cool because none of it was off limits. We could wander through almost all of the house. It was like a Jane Austin era house.

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I have never been to this part of London. I have to say that it is quite beautiful! It has some gorgeous little cafes and shops. I wouldn't mind coming back here for a visit. It feels like a little village but still with a lot to do. We came across this place and I immediately fell in love with the outdoor eating space and it does not hurt that it is right next to Mark and Spencer's. I ordered the granola because it smelled so good and it was AMAZING. Then for my savory dish I shared a Spanish Tortilla with Ana. We had lunch with Sara and Sydney, but when they split for the lecture, Ana helped with the accounting. The place was exactly what I needed.

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When I visited Kensington Palace the day before, I was on a tight schedule because I had to get back in time to meet the group. So today I wanted to see the gardens that surrounded the palace. They seemed pretty from what I could see and it was a nice day to walk in them. The Gardens were small but pretty. A good place to take pictures in.

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I had never been to Brick Lane bel fee, but apparently this is the place to eat curry in London. There are quite a few options to eat here it is hard to choose. Most of the street is dotted by Bengali curry restaurants and sweet shops. It's a cool area even though it is also the site for Jack the Ripper. Ana ordered some lamb biryani, chicken tikka, and saag paneer. It was all really good and it made me miss Pakistan.

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I wasn't sure if Ana and I would be able to visit this coffee shop in the morning. It was farther and it opened later, which would make it difficult. However today, we have a later start so Ana and I woke up early enough to walk out here and make it back in time for breakfast.

Other than Coffee Plant, this was my favorite coffee house. It was a really cool place with a lot of comfortable seating and the area seemed pretty cool. We did not get to stay too long, but the place was full anyway. I'll have to come back here next time I come back into town.

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Today we leave from Victoria Station. I love Victoria station because it is such a remnant from the Victorian Era. It's gorgeous in it's steel beams and high curving glass ceilings. It's so classically London that it's hard not to be in awe of it. Most people probably just pass through it never really taking it in, but it has a look that is all it's own and should be appreciated.

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We are on our way to the charity group Emmaus in Lambeth. I'm really excited about this because it took forever to organize. I worked for almost three weeks with Claire (from Emmaus) to put this together. Now that we are on our way I'm very curious to meet the people and see their operations.

Emmaus runs a series of charity shops that help to give the homeless skills and a roof over their head, so that someday they can live independently. It is an operation that I think is very progressive and sustainable.

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The visit to Emmaus was really eye opening and amazing. We were able to talk and meet with actual people who are in the system. The we met were extremely articulate and grateful for Emmaus. They were great. I am not sure if everyone really listened and took things in, but I'm glad we got to go.

After the tour, all of the students wanted to come back. I wanted to chill out, so I told everyone that I was planning on doing a picnic in the gardens in front of Buckingham Palace and picking up lunch from Mark and Spencers again. Ana, Daniel, Robert, Jason, and Dylan decided to join me. We had a nice peaceful lunch where we talked about the trip and what we have seen. It was cool to hear their perspective. Halfway through lunch, Robert and Jason left to find the London Meat Market. Ana decided to stay in the park and read. Daniel and Dylan wanted to pass by the Royal Haymarket Theatre to buy tickets to the Elephant Man. I decided to join them and offered to take them on the scenic route.

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I had never walked from Buckingham to Bayswater before. When I saw it on the map I thought it was too far. However I of all people should know how small Central London is. I first took them through Admiralty Gate to Trafalgar Square where I gave them a little history lesson about it. Then we walked to the Royal Haymarket Theatre where we got our tickets. From there we walked to Picadilly Cirucs and then onto Regents Street where we connected to Oxford Street. On Oxford Street, I made them to get ice cream from Thornton's so that they could try the honeycomb ice cream. After Oxford street it was a straight shot to Marble Arch and then onto Bayswater Road to our Hotel. It was a cool walk because we saw a lot of cool things in such a short period of time. This is the genius that is LONDON.

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I had walked down Regent's Street a couple of times before, but this is the first time I've spent time to really look around and to walk into stores. Daniel wanted to go into Burberry, so we walked around that amazing store. It was beautiful and I could not afford a thing in it. Then I saw that there was a Nespresso Store and I was able to get us free samples of the new pod Peru. I was definitely in tourist mode on this street because it was like seeing it for the first time. My favorite part of Regent Street was the Karl Lagerfeld window. How cute is that?!

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So this morning I find myself near Paddington Station just north east of the hotel. This is a new part of London for me. The square is an office square right next to the canal. It has way more of a commuter and work vibe to it. Be any Green however is the complete opposite vibe. The coffee shop is laid back and a little funny with its weird obsession with bananas. The patrons are all suited up workers while the decor suggest young and hip. The coffee hear is decent but not the best I've had. I ordered an Americano because they did not have the filter coffee ready. I would have waited but I needed to get back in time to go to Emmaus.

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It's taken almost the entire trip, but we have made it to Knightsbridge and the famous Harrod's Department Store. The is the only place I have been to where the things you see on the runways are actually in the store. I'm in awe of this store because it is the height of luxury and yet it still has some things that regular people can buys. I know other people may not agree, but the overall experience at Harrod's is pretty cool.

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Earlier in the week Daniel and Dylan had been going on and on about Bradley Cooper being in London. For some reason I had it in my head that they were saying that he is playing in a band. I did not realize that they meant that he brought The Elephant Man to London until I walked with them to the theatre. So when we got to the the theatre, I figured I'd go with them.

I knew nothing about the play. I wanted to be surprised. Our seats were at the top most part of the theatre. We were so far up that to get to our seats we had to go through a separate door to get to our seats!

Overall I felt that the play was good, but it was a play I would not see again. Bradley Cooper was the Elephant Man and he did an excellent job with the physicality of the character. He was the Elephant Man but with no make up or prosthetics. He had to contort his body and face the entire time. It was a good performance. Patricia Clarkson, one of my favorite actresses, was in the play as well. I thought she did an excellent job. They had good performances but I think the play itself was weak. Maybe that's what stops me from saying that I loved it.