Back to the Western World, Baby!
17.12.2012 - 23.12.2012
So I left India behind and headed to Londontown!! My first night in London, I met up with a mate of mine, Andrew, whom I had met in Australia. We walked from Charing Cross to Trafalgar Square and down Oxford Street. The decorations around London at Christmas time are tremendous! I thought that NYC was good but London was amazing!
The streets were so "Old London." I loved it!
Andrew and me having a pint
We walked to Hyde Park, as I was to meet up with my mate, Megan, from the Kiwi Experience in New Zealand. We went to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, which was insane! It was like a giant amusement park on Christmas steroids. There were rides, ice-skating, a circus, etc. We Americans are known for our commercialism, especially around Christmas, but these Brits were giving us a run for our money!
Andrew, Megs, her friends and I did do the ferris wheel....not quite as big as the London Eye, but it did give us great views over the city!
The next day, I met up with my friend, Victoria, who I had traveled around Vietnam with. She was such a sweetheart and drove down 3 hours from where she lives to come visit me. We had a touristy day in London, shopping around Covent Garden and then going for fish and chips at a pub for lunch.
We took the tube and then walked along the Thames to get to Westminster Abbey. After all, I hadn't been to London since the Royal Wedding, so I had to see where William and Kate did their nuptials. Then, we walked to this famous photo spot with a telephone booth and Big Ben in the background. Unfortunately, all of the homeless leave a treat in each of the photo booths these days :p But the spot was lovely!
Then Tor thought it would be funny if I got a picture with a bobby, which I did.
We walked across the bridge and got some roasted peanuts. That's the London Eye in the background.
Then we hopped into a pub for a pint. I love the old English wood!
After that, we headed to the market on Southbank, right by the London Eye. There were stalls set up with mulled wine and all sorts of food and things to eat. They also had amazing hats, which Tor and I loved.
Later, Tor and I parted ways at Waterloo, and I met up with my friend, Martin, who I know from the Kiwi Experience and who was one of my close friends from Sydney, when we lived there at the same time. We met up and took a pic right in front of the London Eye.
Then RIshi came to meet up with Martin and me. We had a drink and had a great time catching up.
That evening, I went over to Megs' in Wimbledon so that we could have "girl time" to catch up. Here she is as she heads out to work for the morning.
As I walked back to the train station, I passed this shop that I got a kick out of.
Then I headed 3 hours out of London to have an overnight in Chester. I visited my mate Anna Feeney, who I worked with at Macquarie in Sydney. She had moved back to be with her man, Ric. She met me at the train station and we headed out for lunch at a local pub. The English have this tradition of opening Christmas crackers with hats in them and wearing the hats during Christmas lunch. This concept was totally new to me, and I loved it!
The town of Chester was so quaint. I loved it! It reminded me of the Tudor style of architecture from Normandy.
Then we went for a pint at Anna's local.
We took this pic, as one of our old colleagues was called, Daniel Rohan. This is for you, Rohan!
Anna and Ric
Anna was so sweet to throw a dinner party for me, inviting all of her friends over to meet her crazy American friend.
They were such lovely girls!
We even jammed out to Spice Girls! "Stop Right Now....Thank You Very Much..." TOO FUN!
The next day, Feeney and I went to a really great restaurant in the country. It was so cute looking!
Then I took the train back to London, and Rishi and I went out with his mates. We went to a great bar singalong. It really reminded me of a great college bar in the U.S.
The whole group had such a blast hanging out and singing along!
The next day, I met up with Collette, a mate of mine from Sydney. We went to the Borough Market, which is SO amazing! There are stalls of tasty food everywhere, both to eat there as well as to take home. I absolutely recommend it! We had delicious stall food and walked around all of the artisans, tasting cheese, wine, saucisson, etc. We had a blast! And look at how big that brussels sprout stalk is! I never knew brussels sprouts grew on stalks like this....lol
The cheese-tasting was amazing!
That's one big cheese wheel!
Later on that day, I met up with Mansha, my old roommate from UVA. We went Christmas shopping on Oxford Street....and a bit of indulgent shopping at Zara
Then we went out with her roommate Shazia, her friend Chris, and some of her other mates to a bar.
Here's the group:
My last day, Chris and I went to Notting Hill to go shopping at the Portobello Market. Later on that night, I met up with Megan at a club for one last night out before I had to catch my flight in the morning.
Then, Alex Perchard, one of my closest friends from Macquarie in Sydney, came into town directly from Heathrow (he had just flown in from Sydney) and met me at the club so that we could have a catch-up session before I had to go home for Christmas.
It was so great to see such a close friend of mine before I left. Alex had been hanging out with Nikki, our mutual friend from work, Blair, one of my friends from Sydney, and Abyan, one of my best friends from UVA, frequently since my departure from Sydney. It was so good to hear what's been going on and get all of the gossip
What a whirlwind London was! But at the same time, it was a great way to transition back to the United States, because I was able to visit a lot of my good mates from my travels and reminisce over the past year and a half's experiences. Retelling the stories dating back to the beginning in New Zealand and the Kiwi Experience to fun times at work in Sydney to adventures in Vietnam and everything in between was a great way to reflect and gear up for reuniting with my motherland