This past week, I traveled outside of my study abroad home city—Edinburgh, Scotland—to go to London for three days! I had only been to London once before about 6 years ago, so it was really fun to go back and explore the city.
We started out by getting a morning train at Edinburgh’s Waverley Station for the four and a half hour ride down to King’s Cross Station in London. Honestly, the train rides there and back may have been my favorite part of the entire trip—trains are such a great transportation system, and it’s a fantastic way to see more of Scotland (and England) than I would otherwise. This train ride was especially beautiful because we traveled along the Firth of Forth and North Sea coastline, which made for some spectacular cliffside views.
After getting to King’s Cross, we checked into our hostel. I had never stayed in a hostel before, so it was certainly an experience to say the least. While it was quieter and nicer than I expected, it was still odd to sleep in a room with 12 other people, 9 of whom were complete strangers (the other 3 were my friends). Since we were tired from the train ride, we visited Camden Market—which had a bunch of neat shops—then went back to the hostel for a movie night and early bedtime.
On our first full day in London, we walked through Hyde Park, visited Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace, and—my favorite place of the trip—the Victoria and Albert Museum, a well-known art and culture museum near Hyde Park. I love exploring museums, so it was great to wander around the Hall of Statues, the stained-glass section (my favorite section), and the gigantic cast section. After the museum, we got an early dinner, then made our way to the West End to see Wicked, which I for one was very, very excited to see. We bought the cheapest seats available so we were pretty far up in the balcony, but the musical was still amazing. While I knew the general outline of Wicked, I had never seen it before, and so many of the plot twists were genuinely surprising to me. It was a fantastic experience to round out one of our days in London.
The next day, we got a nice breakfast in a cafe near our hostel, then spent the morning studying in the British Library (since we all unfortunately had schoolwork to do). The Library was beautiful and I wish we could have explored the reading rooms, but apparently you need a pass to access them. Still, it was cool to study in one of the largest libraries in the world. After getting lunch at a nearby pub, we walked to the Thames just to look at the view and then went on to the second museum of our trip—the British Museum, a massive building with tons of different exhibits. The museum is so large that you really could spend an entire day just in one section, but I managed to see most of what it had to offer in the two and a half hours we were there and walked away satisfied. Since we were tired from essentially walking all day, we ended that day with another movie night. The next morning, we got an early train back to Edinburgh, and by 3:00pm that afternoon I was back in my dorm room.
All in all, visiting London was lots of fun though a bit stressful at times (as traveling always is to an extent). I’m really glad that I decided to go explore another city other than Edinburgh, but by the end of the trip I was also very happy to come back here. While Edinburgh still feels new and different in many ways, it’s certainly more familiar to me now than London was, so I was looking forward to getting back to my routine here. While I still miss Oberlin a lot, it seems that Edinburgh is becoming another home for me, which is a surprising and pleasant realization to have.