What a semester it has been! It is incredibly hard to believe that over three months have flown by and I am currently packing my bags (well, attempting to) and preparing for a 9 hour flight back to the USA. While I am definitely excited to get home to see my family and dogs just in time for the Christmas festivities, I am going to miss London more than I can say. It is truly an amazing city and it was so easy to make myself at home here, despite the fact that I would not consider myself a "city person."
There were so many moments abroad I had to pinch myself because I couldn't believe how amazing the experiences I was having were-- whether it was stunning scenery, fun times with my friends or just amazing meals (of which we ate many). The amount of times I said "wow" is probably upwards of 1,000 by now. Living abroad, I not only gained the practical skills (such as learning how to cram 5 days worth of clothes into a backpack or how to survive all the ridiculousness that accompanies a $20 RyanAir flight), but in all seriousness I have gained a deeper appreciation for life in general. The world is a beautiful place and I am so grateful I got to experience it in such an amazing way.
This post is dedicated to my parents for making my dreams of traveling the world a reality. I can't explain what a great gift it has been to study abroad and I couldn't have done it without their support. (Below photo taken at the top of St. Paul's Cathedral with view of London skyline.)
While traveling around Europe was fantastic, I was happy to be able to relax and spend the last few weeks in London soaking it all in. Here's a peek into my last month in London:
Visit from Dad
Since my mom came over with me to London, I was excited that my dad got the opportunity to come over for work and spend a few days with me. He stayed in the trendy neighborhood of Shoreditch which I was excited to spend time in since I had only been once. We had some amazing meals, went to the Tate Modern art museum and strolled around the mural-lined streets. It was so good to hang out with him and show him around the city.
Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park
London at Christmastime is spectacular. Hannah visited Winter Wonderland with her boyfriend Nate when he came to visit and she told Abby and I it was a must. It is located in Hyde Park (basically London's version of Central Park). There are rides, amazing food and a Bavarian Christmas market with hundreds of stalls for Christmas shopping. The main reason we went was for the ice skating. We didn't last too long on the rink but it was lots of fun. Our experience was complete with this awkward professional photo that makes us look like just another happy couple skating the day away haha.
Afternoon Tea at Kensington Palace
We decided to conclude our study abroad experience the most British way-- with high tea at the palace! While there were no sightings of Princess Kate, it was still a success.
Kate often takes George and Charlotte for walks right here in Kensington Gardens but she was nowhere in sight...
Other Miscellaneous Shenanigans
Abby and I took one last trip to Big Ben for old time's sake (ha get it? time? clock? big ben? lol). We actually waited in the tourist line in front of this phone booth because its the best way to get Big Ben and the phone booth in one picture. Despite being embarrassingly touristy, we both had an emotional moment concluded that we would miss London (and Big Ben) so so so so much.
Can't forget about Clerkenwell-- our little postal code within London. Gotta love the EC1M. It has been so good to us and is such a charming, quiet little area. This beautiful door is right across the street from where we live and I am obsessed with how they decorated for Christmas!
Another cool Clerkenwell thing we found out literally the last week we were here is that we were living on top of history all along! The land where our building is used to be St. John's Gate. There is a museum (The Museum of the Order of St. John) that we walk by all the time located in the only part of the gate still standing (see photo), and we decided to visit at the end out of curiosity. We took a tour and found that King Henry VIII, Shakespeare and Charles Dickens had all frequented St. John's Gate and had actually sat in the room in the museum we stood in! Oh and the Queen has been there too. Ahh. SO British and SO cool.
Finally, a bunch of brunch... Since arriving in Europe, I have adapted the lifestyle that "brunch is not a destination, but a way of life." We became cult followers of the Instagram account @breakfastlondon and essentially followed it around London as a sort of brunch bible. The account's recommendations obviously did not disappoint. The last few weeks we have continued this tradition and if anything, have amped up our brunch consumption. Hence, I have put together this collage of some of my favorite brunches we have had. Trust me, there are many more brunches not pictured (the collage app only allows for 9 photos) but available upon request.
Top row (left to right): Pluk//Amsterdam, Modern Pantry//Clerkenwell, Eggbreak//Notting Hill.
Middle Row: Modern Pantry//Clerkenwell, The Breakfast Club//Shoreditch, Cereal Killer Cafe//Brick Lane.
Bottom Row: Princi//Soho, Hubbard & Bell//Holborn, Caravan//Exmouth Market.
If ending my final Laur In London post on a collage of brunch is wrong, I don't want to be right.
These have undoubtedly been the best 3 months of my life. Thank you for reading along! Now that I'm back to real life I will continue to blog on my website, www.blessedbrunette.com, so please feel free to follow me there and on my blogging Instagram, @blessedbrunette.