(10 points to any and all who know where that’s from)
On the 19th of September I took my very first steps through the city of London.
It has FINALLY struck me that I am half a world away from my everyday life in Canberra and I’m suddenly and crazily excited.
One of the best things about this trip was my planned reuniting with the incredibly Yolande. Yolande was an exchange student who visited the ANU in my final semester. We did a drama class together and, unfortunately, I only discovered how amazingly awesome sauce she was JUST before she had to return to the Netherlands. However, because Yolande is a seasoned hand at jetting around the world and keeping I contact with people (and, might I add, endlessly patient with forgetful Australians who stood her up on Skype almost all the time) we managed to forge and maintain a very important and incredible friendship. Yolande and I have been talking about this trip for most of the year now. When I saw her waiting to meet me in Trafalgar square, I almost cried. We spent the whole day together; chatting, walking, eating, taking terribly touristy photographs and making plans.
In our MASSIVE walk about town, we saw; Trafalgar square, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Big Ben, the London Eye, Covent Garden and Kings College.
I was so impressed by how welcoming the city felt. The locals were very forgiving of over excited tourists who needed photos of EV-ER-Y-THING (myself included). Also, almost all of those quintessential London sights (as mentioned above) are walking distance apart, which made for a day of “oohs”, “aaahs”, “sqweees” and sighs.
Trafalgar is gorgeous. Especially in the morning. The fountains are just magical. I couldn’t have picked a better spotty start. Buck Palace is pretty but the truly amazing sight is the statue in front of it! It’s topped with a mighty golden angel who, in the lovely sunshine we enjoyed yesterday, seemed triumphant and glorious. Big Ben seems so much more ‘normal sized’ in real life!! It always looks so tall in movies… Coventry Garden is GREAT!! Lots of street performers and small chafes and quirky UK stores. I bought my first souvenir, for the new and fabulous Miss Jade Gabriella Kuczer. (if you’re one of the few people left in the world that don’t know, (I’MANAUNTYANDIT’SSOAMAZINGSHE’SSOBEAUTIFULICANTEVENBLAAAARRRRGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!). I also bought myself a pair of Sunnies that are red and floral and kind of hilarious.
We went to visit Kings College because Yolande is about to start a masters program there. Despite its obscurity, I would totally recommend going to see it. The older parts of the building feel like Hogwarts, withe chandeliers and mahogany bookcases lining the walls. But, more importantly, the chapel in this building is just bafflingly beautiful. You can’t take photos (sorry guys) but it’s is an oasis if serenity and color and the joy that is so often missing from religion.
You will be glad to hear (well, I was glad to discover) that the tradition of ‘hilarious names for things and such, has continued into the city. Yolande and I discovered an establishment called the “Coal Hole” and a bar near Covent Garden called “Rules” (honestly, why would anyone want to drink at a place called Rules??!).
In a tiny French Boulangerie at Covent Garden, Yolande and I had afternoon tea. My first UK cup of tea was lovely (Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.) and it came with 3 mini macaroons and a gorgeous cafe atmosphere. It was here, in my exhaustedly Jet Lagged and overly stimulated state, that I started to think about how phenomenal this experience already was. I have been dreaming of coming to Europe since I was a child. How lucky am I that this dream could come true? And, even luckier, everything seems more beautiful than I could have imagined. I feel very inspired already.
You should all be warned, the gushing epiphanies will probably be a common occurrence on this blog. I’ve never really written on a regular basis before. But as anyone who has spoken to me more than once will tell you, Steph Ku does NOT have a very well functioning personal filter. I think honesty is remarkable. And, in a world of half truths, I want to understand life as it is. (Pretty wonky right? I think I just threw up in my mouth a tiny bit.)
More tips for the n00bs;
– If you are planning to get a sim card in Europe; WHATEVER YOU DO, take your damn phone to your damn Australian service provider and get THEM to unlock it before you leave. I have a very sweet friend (who shall remain nameless) who tried to unlock my phone over the Internet. It didn’t work and I had to shell out £70 to have it unlocked here. I also don’t have my computer to update the software so it will have to wait yet another day before I may return to the world of telecommunications. BAH!!!!! (But don’t worry friend, I’m not mad at you. I’m sure it’s probably my fault for being such a techno fail.)
– When Jet Lagged, caffeine if really not your friend. Try to avoid it if you don’t want to crash halfway through the day.
I hope you’re all well and that the sun is shining brighter and warmer every day back home.
Below pictured; my first cup of tea, a very friendly mural in the Boulangerie and the coal hole