A Magical Week in Europe!

In my third blog post, I left off right before my trip to Paris. Let me just say, I went to Paris having absolutely no expectations. In fact, if I had any, it was that I wouldn’t be as impressed with Paris as I was. Though my time in the UK is so little, I am so grateful my friends and I made the time to take this trip. It truly was a trip filled with nonstop smiles and laughter. From our bumpy uber ride, confusion at the airport, and trouble with checking into our first flight, to the exact same on the way home, and all of the in between, this truly was a great weekend.

When we arrived in Paris, we happily took advantage of a list of recommendations our hostel provided for dinner. My flatmate, Camila, is fluent in French and eagerly taught me the pronunciations of everything I considered on the menu. We spent almost 2 hours at the table just laughing and sharing stories. The next morning, we woke up early to complete our entire agenda of sight seeing. We visited the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and the Arc de Triomphe, climbed the Sacre Coeur, and ate a lot of amazing pastries and French meals. Though we didn’t know it at first, the Eiffel Tower only sparkles for five minutes, every hour on the hour, at night. We made it our mission to get back to the Eiffel Tower after dinner to see this, and we succeeded! Our last day was not so much sight seeing, but just taking in the beautiful city. We visited two different gardens, Jardin des Tuileries and Jardin du Palais Royal. I lived my ‘Emily in Paris’ dreams, taking pictures on a bench that appears in the show. I was sad to say goodbye to Paris, but eager to start planning another trip there soon.

My trip to Paris ending meant I was days away from my best friend, Aaliyah, arriving with her family in Europe. Aaliyah spent a few days in Paris as well before heading to London. Thank god they fit me in their itinerary because I was starting to feel very homesick, and seeing my best friend for the first time in exactly a month was the perfect medicine. I took them to a pub in Covent Garden, where they stayed, then showed them the Elizabeth line. We walked around London and caught up for awhile. It truly was so special to me that I could share my experiences here in London with her and her family. 

In addition to seeing Aaliyah, I had some other exciting events last week! On Wednesday, I saw Wicked with two of my roommates. Wicked is one of my favorite shows (the soundtrack is my favorite study album!) so I was very happy I could squeeze this in. On Thursday, before I had work, I visited the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Leavesden. As a Harry Potter megafan, this was a dream come true. I could feel myself smiling extra hard as I walked around. I definitely plan to go back in the future, hopefully with my family. I’ve dragged them to Universal Studios in Orlando multiple times, so I’m sure this is exactly what they would want to do on a trip to London!

Adding onto all of the adventure, three of my roommates and I took a day trip to Oxford on Saturday. Although it was a cold and rainy day, I was able to really appreciate the campuses. I think Trinity College may have been my favorite! We climbed to the top of the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin. This was a spectacular view of the city, despite the tedious climb through the narrow passageways. We had afternoon tea (and yes, the clotted cream goes on before the jam!). We also did a tour of the Oxford Castle at the end of the day. I must say, it truly is amazing relearning all of the history of England while I am here. I’ve said it before, but it is a full-circle moment from when I learned about this as a sophomore in high school, unaware I would ever live here. 

My weekend was wrapped up with a quick stop at Borough Market and then a tour of Hampton Court Palace. Though it was not originally on my list of things to do here, I am beyond grateful I took the time to visit this palace. From diving into the living space of the Tudors, to walking the vast gardens, Hampton Court Palace is truly worth the time spent there. I highly recommend this to anyone else looking for things to do while here!

As my time is coming to a close in London, I recognize some of the challenges I’ve experienced while here, which I’m sure many others can relate to. I wrote a bit about these challenges and how adaptability is vital  in a separate post, linked here.