By Tom Lally
If you called or emailed toward the end of June, got my out of office message, and wondered where I was, well now you’re in luck! I spent 9 days in the United Kingdom visiting London and Edinburgh. Despite its wet reputation there was almost no rain – the same thing happened when I spent a semester in Dublin, so I think either their reputations are overstated or I’m just very lucky.
First up was the great metropolis of London. Despite being as populous as New York City it’s not nearly as dense, so I found it much easier to manage. I stayed in Bayswater, an area by Kensington Gardens that was just a short Tube ride away from central London. The whole neighborhood was full of beautiful light stone buildings that perfectly fit my mental image of what residential London should look like. However here, as in all areas of London, space is at a premium. The hotel was lovely, clean, and well maintained, but it had easily the smallest bathroom and smallest shower I’ve ever used.
I had never been to London before, and there were far too many things I wanted to see than I could easily fit into a few days. And what I did see won’t fit well in one brief article, so here are some quick thoughts on the major attractions:
Big Ben – this is currently being renovated until 2021 and the clock face was visible but the rest was covered.
Tower of London – this is deceivingly named, as it’s an entire castle complex, not just a tower, and it easily exceeded my expectations more than anything else.
Buckingham Palace – the UK has virtually no firearms, and even the regular police don’t carry guns, but the police stationed here were packing some serious firepower.
Changing of the guard – I knew what this would look like (lots of tall hats), but I did not know it would take almost a full hour to complete.
Westminster Abbey – I don’t think I’ve ever walked on top of as many graves as I did inside this beautiful and historic church.
Overall I had a fantastic time in London and can’t wait to go back, for all of the things I missed this time, like St. Paul’s Cathedral, the London Eye, and Wimbledon (I missed the tournament by only a couple weeks).
Stay tuned for an upcoming article about the second half of my trip, to Edinburgh.