Monday, December 3, 2012

"Just Singin' in the Rain"

The London Eye
Well it’s December, to which I say: “When did that happen??” This semester is flying by so fast and I can’t believe it’s already coming to an end! Since I depart from Cyprus on December 18th, I’m at the point where it is too easy to count down the days. I will make the most of my remaining days, and of course I have papers to write and finals to study for too, but right now I’m going to reminisce about my free week, during which I traveled to London and Ireland! 


Buckingham Palace
     The flight from Larnaca, Cyprus to Gatwick, United Kingdom felt so long! It was about 5 hours, and after taking shorter flights during my previous travels, 5 hours seemed like forever. I can only imagine what flying home is going to feel like! On the plane I started reading ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’, and I actually finished the book before I even arrived at my hostel! It was a great book, I loved the writing style, and I can’t wait to see the movie. (You should read it if you haven’t already!)
            When I arrived in Gatwick Airport, passport control took too long and I missed my train to Waterloo, the closest station to my hostel. Unfortunately that was the last train for the night and I had to figure out another way to get to my hostel. Without giving me any directions, the ticket teller switched my ticket to Queen Victoria and told me to take a bus from there. I was a little overwhelmed that I had to figure out a new transportation route so late at night when the one I was supposed to take was so easy! Luckily Kyle, my friend from Cyprus, was already in London and met me at the Queen Victoria station so we could take the bus together to the Steam Engine Hostel. To make matters more difficult, my bankcard didn’t work at the ATM or the hostel, so I had to borrow money from Kyle so I could sleep in my bed! Knowing I needed Pounds instead of the few Euros I had on me, I called my bank before going to bed to fix the issue and went to bed at 3am London time, so it really felt like 5am Cyprus time!
Going back to Neverland :)
            After a few hours of sleep, I got up for a busy day in London! My first stop was to see the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens where I felt like Wendy flying back to Neverland, just like Junior year of high school when I played her in the musical. There was light rain but I didn’t mind because I expected that in London. I also went to Hyde Park; the parks in London are lovely!
Me at the GLOBE!
             We stopped in Harrods department store just to say we did, and I enjoyed the Disney window displays. Being typical tourists, we took pictures 

in an iconic red phone booth and went to Big Ben and Westminster Abbey before enjoying lunch in Traflagar Square at Pret A Manger. (Pret is on EVERY corner of London, I swear!) I also saw St. Pauls’ Cathedral, Millennium Bridge, London Bridge, and of course toured The Globe, which was awesome! Unfortunately the show season at the Globe had ended, so I guess I’ll just have to return to London someday to experience a performance like in Shakespeare’s time.
Two Towers Bridge

            Later that night we came across Two Towers Bridge, which was gorgeous lit up at night, the light reflecting in the River Thames. For dinner I sought out Fish and Chips, which came with a side of mushy peas, as the menu called them, and I enjoyed the meal despite having to pick around some bones. 

"Singin' in the Rain!"
      And then it was time for ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ at the Palace Theatre! The performance was absolutely wonderful and the rain on the stage was the coolest thing I have ever seen: 12,000 liters of water during every performance- Wow. What an appropriate show to see in London, haha!  This is also where my post title comes from:"Singin' in the Rain"(watch this if you've never seen it!)

Hogwarts Castle model
       The next day we went to Warner Brother’s Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter. Seriously, this was my favorite thing I did in London! All 8 movies under one roof, and I got to walk through The Great Hall, see Gryffindor’s common room, Dumbledore’s office, Hagrid’s hut, the night bus, Privet Drive, Diagon Alley and 

many other places! I could really imagine what it was like to make these films that I grew up with, and everything was authentic! I got to see some of my favorite props including: the sorcerer’s stone, the snitch, and all the Horcruxes! I learned about the animatronics like Buckbeak, prosthetics of the Goblins and creatures, and visual effects like the fire breathing Horntail. I even got to experience special effects on the green screen by flying on a broom! The tour was an overwhelming experience, and I must admit I teared up a bit to see all of these wonders in front of me and to witness all of the work that went into my childhood favorites. My favorite parts were the giant castle model of Hogwarts, the concept art room, and Ollivander’s wand room, which had the name of over 4,000 people who worked on the movies on each wand box. It took 3 hours and 20 minutes to go through the whole tour, and I even got some butterbeer too!
Finding Danielle at Platform 9  3/4
            To continue the Harry Potter theme of the day, we went to King’s Cross Station to cross through Platform 9 ¾, and guess who came to Hogwarts with me?....I met Danielle, my friend from high school, because she’s studying abroad in London! It was great to see her and catch up over lunch, and yet again we ate at Pret A Manger.
            It was time to switch gears for the day and do something unrelated to Harry Potter, so we metro-ed to Abbey Road and took some pictures crossing the street just like the Beatles, trying not to get hit by cars of course, haha. And later we went to Fleet Street and I even found a Barbershop there! Perhaps it is owned by Mr. Sweeney Todd himself? I didn’t go in to find out….
            I loved walking through the streets of London and seeing all the Christmas decorations. On my final day in London we visited Covent Garden Market; I wish money were endless and suitcases didn’t get full because I would’ve bought something otherwise. We also went to Primark, which is the Target of London, and I actually bought something there, a pair of gloves, since my old ones had a few holes, which resulted from using them as shoes in Vienna. (See my post from Austria entitled “I've Always Longed for Adventure, To Do the Things I've Never Dared” if you’re confused!)
Such a Tourist <3
     Keeping an eye on the time, we headed back to the hostel to pick up our bags and catch our train to Gatwick airport to fly to Dublin, Ireland! I liked our hostel because it was easy to navigate around London from there, and the transportation system was simple to use and quick! Trains are expensive though and an all day metro pass was $12-14. London is expensive so I’m glad I didn’t spend too many days there! Despite the costs, I loved my time in London and I would be happy to return or maybe even intern/work there someday.  Only time will tell of course.
            Thanks for reading about my travels to London! My next post will be all about Ireland, so stay tuned!

Till next time!
-Courtney <3


  1. hahaha yes, Pret is on every corner. It's rather absurd. Sounds like you had a great trip and squeezed in a lot of fun things!! So bummed dinner didn't work out, but we shall be reunited soon!

  2. Thanks for your grateful informations, am working in Tourism Portal, so it will be helpful info for my works.