The Week I (Sort of) Started Summer Vacation

Day 129

Ah yes, summer vacation. One of the best times of the year. I mean technically I’m not on vacation yet. I still have two exams that I really need to study for at the very end of May. But I figured I might as well try to get some vacation time in before that. So, this week I decided to do all the touristy and relaxing things I haven’t gotten around to in town yet. Honestly, I think I might be living my best life right now.

SATURDAY, NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM Well it was bound to happen eventually. The rain came back today. Which meant that any outside exploring was off my list for the day. So, I did what apparently every other human being in London decided to do, I went to the Natural History Museum. Yeah, if you can, probably wise to avoid a museum on a rainy Saturday. After waiting a while just to get inside, I set out to explore the place. The collection had everything from diamonds to dinosaurs. I spent almost two hours wandering around looking at everything. I think I might be musuemed out by now, but I think I’ve crossed almost all of them off the list. I might try one or two more but hopefully it’ll be nice enough out to just stick to the urban exploring. 

FRIDAY, HYDE PARK This afternoon I headed out to Hyde Park to spend time and picnic with a bunch of people before we all start to head back to our home countries. We kicked around a football and caught up for a while. It was just the way I wish I could spend every Friday afternoon. 

THURSDAY, VICTORIA The day I’ve been waiting for, for what must be like a year and a half at this point, finally came. Today I got to see Hamilton live on stage. It was just as good as the hype said it would be. I don’t think I can put it into words. Surprisingly I wasn’t as moved as I thought I might have been but it was still a fantastic time. If you ever have the opportunity, go. You will not regret it.

 WEDNESDAY, THE CITY Keeping with my summer vacation theme, I decided to do some more touristy stuff and headed into the City to check out what it had to offer. I started out at the Museum of London. It was ok, a little less than what I was expecting to be honest with you. But it was interesting to learn more about the city I’ve lived in for the past couple of months.

After finishing up I walked around the city admiring some of the architecture and the different vibe the city gives off. I wandered into the Bank of England and checked out their small museum before walking through a high-end market for some wishful window shopping.

REGENT STREET After getting my fill of the city, I head out to Regent street to see the set up they had for the royal wedding in a few weeks. They had lined the street with the Union Jack and it was a truly impressive sight. I, of course, got some of the mandatory pictures. 

TUESDAY, MARITIME GREENWICH Submitted my last essay this morning and decided to head out to Greenwich park to kick off two weeks of summer vacation. I emptied out my backpack of all my school stuff, threw a towel and book in, and caught the train out. I’d never been out around Greenwich before so it was a nice change of pace. Greenwich has a nice small fishing village vibe to it. I had no idea what to expect when I got out there so I was surprised to find myself face to face with a tall ship.

I hadn’t realized that the entire area used to be the primary training grounds for the Royal Navy and as such the place is steeped in Naval history. The whole area is stunning. The main focus of Greenwich is the Old Naval College and Queen’s house. They sit at the bottom of the hill where the Naval Observatory and Prime Meridian are located. The whole place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s not hard to tell why. The buildings are masterpieces. It is also the first decent university quad I’ve found in months. I wondered around the grounds of the old college and drifted in and out of some of the buildings admiring the old chapel and some of the amazing artwork. The College was shut down in the late 90s as the Royal Navy was reduced in size and now some of the buildings are open to the public. It must have been something to learn in such an amazing place.

After exploring the grounds of the college, I wondered about the green to Queen’s house. It turns out it was actually built as a palace several hundred years ago but was never used as one. The house was eventually handed over to the college before becoming a museum. I loved both the house and the collection it housed. The majority of the works focused on either the navy or royalty. I must have spent at least an hour or two wandering around the halls of the old place.

Next, I ended up at the Naval museum next door. I thought this was one of the better museums I’ve been to in London. It was a very interesting look at the history of Britain and how the fate of the country has always been bound to its adventures on the seas. My favorite item in the collection had to be the uniform Nelson was wearing when he was mortally wounded in battle at Trafalgar. Everyone back then was actually stunningly small. The coat of a 47-year-old man in 1805 might fit a teenager today.

After another hour or so I decided to finally hike up the hill to the observatory. Not as bad of a climb as you might think, but the views were amazing. I could even see my flat from the peak. While I decided it probably wasn’t worth the dozen or so pounds to go stand on the prime meridian considering I cross over it almost daily, I did find a nice little spot just below the observatory and set up camp. I laid out with all the other Londoners soaking up the sun for the first time in months. I was honestly the best way to kick off a vacation time I think I’ve ever found.

Well by this time it was finally starting to be late afternoon. So, I packed up my stuff and hiked down the hill to the village to grab some lunch at a little pub. After lunch, I caught the train back home and was back before rush hour. It was the best kickoff to a vacation I’ve had in a long time.

MONDAY, STRATFORD Today was the hottest Early May Bank Holiday on record. The Met Office started issuing heat advisories. The highest high of the day? 80 degrees. If this is as bad as it gets, I’m in love with British summers. I spent most of the holiday outside finishing up the last of my papers here in London. So happy that’s all over. I also heard back from Carolina that one of the classes I’m taking here in London won’t count for one of the credits I needed back at Carolina. So that’s fun.

I’ve still got about another full week of vacation mode left. I’ve given myself two full weeks to hunker down and study for my exams at the end of the month. Most people are leaving town next weekend so it’ll be nice to say goodbye to everyone and have one last grand night. I’ve got 20 days left abroad and I’m planning to make the most of my responsibility-free life as I humanly can. Well, it is Mother’s Day, so I need to go make a phone call and apologize for being a few hundred miles from home on Mother’s Day for the second year in a row, I’ll see you next Sunday.

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