These last few weeks have gone by in a blur, and sadly I had been unable to sit down by a computer and keep up with The Traveling Button. It started out with my little sister, Alexandra, coming from Vienna where she is studying and making her life. We had a fantastic time in London where we utilized this wonderful service called Airbnb. The apartment we stayed in was a short ten-minute walk to the nearest tube station, and from there you were in Central London in a few stops as it was on the Bakerloo line. (If you are not familiar with the tube lines in London, Bakerloo stops at many major locations). In addition if you did not want to walk, you can always call an Uber to take you to Paddington or the tube station which costs less than £10.
The apartment we stayed at was a two-bedroom apartment, incredibly modern with a view overlooking the river. While we did rent the apartment, not just a room, our host was incredibly helpful as she was there to offer anything we needed. As an example, my sister’s boyfriend, needed his suit to be hung, so she swung by while we were out and delivered hangers! Right next to the apartment building is a small convenience store that had everything we could possibly need for our immediate stay. All in all amazing accommodation and fantastic location.
Day One: Now day one was a Friday, I took the train in from Cornwall, and my sister flew in from Vienna. We were finally reunited late at night and just spent the evening watching silly UK tv programs and gossiping. The next day we got up, had breakfast in Leicester Square, and then proceeded with our first attraction: The British Museum. Now if you have ever been to the British Museum you will know it is impossible to complete in a day, and if you have not I recommend you pick areas of interest to you. For example, I enjoy Ancient Egyptian and my sister was interested in seeing European history. As such we started out in Ancient Egypt and saw the famous Rosetta Stone, various sarcophagi, ancient tools, and then the mummies. Afterwards we wandered on towards the European history department where we saw a rather more exposed mummy than we had seen even in Ancient Egypt, and were able to touch three ancient artifacts that a specialist was offering the public the chance to experience.
We continued on our adventure by going to China Town for lunch and walking around Leicester Square. (In China Town you’ll want to have notes as most locations do not accept card). After that we went to Harrods and had a wander around, we saw some brilliant new technological tools, absurdly priced clothing, and delicious foods. My sister also discovered that Pokemon Monopoly and pocket watches are her newest dream items. After exhausting our legs we went back to the apartment to rest, shower, and purchase ingredients for dinner. When it was then coming up to 22:00 we headed to Paddington in order to receive my sister’s boyfriend whom flew in from Vienna, but could only join us the next day due to having to attend a wedding.
Day Two: After a swift departing of the apartment we went to the Beatles Store, famous 221B Baker Street/Sherlock Museum, and then followed by London Dungeons. Now, the London Dungeons was nothing quite like what I expected. I thought it was a walking tour through old dungeons, but no it is where you live through London’s darker past and actors help you to experience the moment. In the second set I was locked in a cell, and my sister’s partner was brought up to sit in the torture chair. In this chair they demonstrated various methods of torture, and one in particular was to demonstrated to show the removal of male genitalia. However, upon demonstrating the actor apologized and said that this particular tool would be too big for him, and demonstrated with one made more for the size of a child! After walking through the various other sets such as The Plague, the Great Fire of London, and etc we entered the second to last room where her partner was again called up in an old timely courtroom. He was accused of being “Little Willy” a highway man, the lesser criminal in comparison to “Big Dick”. I give credit to him because he took it all with a good humor, and my sister and I did laugh hard. After the epic walk through London’s disasters we went to Duke’s Brew and Que because my sister’s partner loves BBQ, and yes it was very very nice. Then we called it quits after walking miles through residential neighborhoods and allowing my sister’s partner to look at grocery store #1. (He works in the business).
Day Three: My sister and her boyfriend departed early because they were going on the Harry Potter Studios tour. I decided to let them have that time to themselves as I had already been there twice, and I could use that time to do some shopping. So, I went to the all famous Oxford Street and did some shopping I needed, and then met with the pair at Rodizio Preto, a Brazilian Churrascaria. We enjoyed it, but also wanted to let my sister’s boyfriend experience something typical from our Brazilian side. After that we went to grocery store #2 and #3, both of which were in totally opposite directions, and adventures of there own. However, by the time we finished it was past 22:00 again and our legs felt the strenuous pull of a full day of walking.
Day Four: Sadly, day four was the day my sister and her boyfriend were headed out and back to Vienna. We departed the apartment at about 11 AM as that was check-out time, and proceeded to Victoria; because, they were going to be departing from Gatwick. When we arrived at Victoria we stored our luggage there and went out to see Buckingham Palace. We were fortunate that London did not rain once during our trip, nor did it have a lack of sunlight, and as such we were able to make the most of it with less than normal tourist crowds, as it was not peak season. We took some pictures in front of the Palace and then went walking through St. James Park. It was a gorgeous day to see flowers blooming and pelicans that inhabit the park. Yes, pelicans are in the middle of St. James Park, which honestly surprised me just as much as everyone else who passed them. As we continued on our way through St. James Park we ended up by Big Ben and Parliament followed by the Westminster Bridge where just a few days prior there had been a terrorist attack. The best part about that moment was that you could see loads of people not living with fear and making the most of the beautiful day, but also people leaving flowers in honor of the victims. Once we finished the bridge walk we ended our day with a nice lunch of fish ‘n chips before heading back to Victoria to wish my sister and her boyfriend a safe trip home. It was a bitter sweet parting because I am not sure when I will see her next, but I do know that we made some amazing new memories in what I like to call “the older and more historical version of New York City”!