While in London, I take classes at the CAPA International Institute two days a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. My favorite part about my classes is that they require a lot of time be spent exploring the city, so we take a lot of field trips. This week one of my classes made a visit to the British Museum, one of the many great, free places to visit in the city. Then, every evening from Mon-Thurs, the other Rice students and I take a class with Rice professors that have been flown over to aid in our research project. And in between all of that, I work half days at my internship from Tuesday through Thursday. So that leaves me with an almost four day weekend, open for traveling and entertainment aplenty.
Today, I spent the day at Southbank, visiting some of the most iconic London landmarks. Though I’ve been in London for sometime now, as of now, I can only visualize the city through a map of the tube. This is apparently the case for most Londoners. You travel through the city all day, getting from place to place, but it’s only after emerging from the underground that you realize where you are. I can remember stops on trains that I take daily, and know what comes after what, but trying to understand the city above ground has proven difficult. This weekend, the train we usually take to get out of Camden Town, the neighborhood I live in, was undergoing repairs, so we were forced to get on one of those red, double-decker busses and see London. Sounds terrible, right?
It took longer than I am use to get from point A to B, but it was great. I finally saw the streets I travel past each day, and got a sense of what the city looks like in sunlight…because the sun was out! I was freaking out for the better part of the day, because it felt sort of warm. That all changed after some time though and it felt frigid again for most of the day, but there were moments I found myself squinting! I know this sounds crazy, but I haven’t seen the sun in most of my days here. I really enjoy the general gloom this city has though, and I realized that I’ve been wearing a lot of black as a result.
…am I a real Londoner yet?
So through our walk, we saw Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, The London Eye and much, much more. Southbank is absolutely stunning and might just be one of my favorite parts of the city.
All in all, my favorite part of the day was traveling above ground and seeing how the city connects. Moving from borough to borough, and seeing how different parts of the city meet not only helped me get a better sense of direction, but also helped me feel more a part of the city than I have before.
Then we ended the day in Trafalgar Square, watching the many street performers that take over the area.