Companionless in the City

Thanks to several girls in my program wanting to travel to Highclere Castle (where the show “Downton Abbey” is filmed!), my RA moved our Humanities 180 class to tomorrow morning. Because of this, I had the entire day off and decided to complete my solo “Bucket List” activity for the week. The “Bucket List Project” is an assignment for my Humanities class in which every week we, either solo or in teams of two, have to go out and explore different parts of the city. This week I pulled having to visit Leadenhall Market, where parts of the Diagon Alley scenes from Harry Potter were filmed, by myself and I also had to make a new friend.

I woke up an hour and a half before my alarm clock was supposed to go off, so my morning started a little earlier than planned. I was one of the first ones up in the house so breakfast was pretty peaceful and quiet.

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I ended up leaving the house around 10 and since I figured that it was too early to make an appearance in a pub, the easiest place to make in London it seems, I decided to make a stop at Kensington Gardens to go see the Peter Pan statue. I rode both the Northern and Central lines to get to Lancaster Gate, which is right across the street from the Italian Garden.

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In the 1860’s Prince Albert had the Italian Garden built/planted as a romantic gesture for his wife Queen Victoria. How cute is that! Apparently these V&A designs are carved into the stonework all around the garden.

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Following along the shore of the Long Lake, I made my way over to the Peter Pan statue. There were a bunch of other tourists at the statue as well so I had to wait in line to take my picture. Not going to lie, I was a bit let down by how small the statue was. I think I sometimes forget that Peter Pan’s supposed to be a little boy in J.M. Barrie’s novel.

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Continuing on through Kensington Gardens, I stumbled upon the Serpentine Gallery which, despite sounding like a gallery of snakes, is actually an art gallery. Although the gallery itself doesn’t open until later this month, Suo Fujimoto’s 2013 Pavilion stood beside it. 2013 Pavilion is a translucent architectural terrain that Fujimoto states to be a “simple cube, sized to a human body, repeated to build a form that exists between the organic and the abstract.” (January 2013) My favorite part of the exhibit was the fact that even though I was standing within an architectural space, I could still see the park through the translucent panes, giving a feeling that the connection between myself and nature was never lost.

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At this point, I figured that being in a pub any time after noon was socially acceptable, so I hopped onto the Central, Bakerloo, and Circles lines to get to the Monument tube station. Thank goodness there were signs everywhere pointing towards Leadenhall Market or else there’s no way I would have been able to find it. The market is in the financial section of the city so there were a lot of people milling around the streets during their lunch break.

Although I didn’t really think it looked much like Diagon Alley from Harry Potter, Leadenhall Market was beautiful! There were shops, restaurants, and pubs throughout the streets.

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I popped into New Moon pub and one of the business men in there struck up a conversation with me when he realized that I was from the States. He wanted to know what Uni I was attending in London, and when I told him that I was just studying abroad for the semester, he wanted to know all about the college that I normally attend. He offered to buy me a drink but I was super hungry at the time so he told me to check out a French sandwich place in Leadenhall Market.

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The cafe is called Paul and I am so glad I stopped by! I was in the middle of paying for my tomato and mozzarella sandwich on olive ciabatta bread when I spotted macaroons in the display case. And they even had my favorite kind, pistachio!!! So of course I got one too 🙂

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Because take away is cheaper, I walked back past the tube station and along the Thames and ended up eating my lunch on a bench by the river. The weather was gorgeous today (I think the temperature got up into the 80’s!) and my food was delicious. Not going to lie, the macaroon was the size of my palm and I loved every bite of it.

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In celebration of the fact that it was such a nice day, I continued walking down the Thames until I reached the Millennium bridge… which is where I ran into maybe every single tourist in London. The views of and around the bridge were beautiful so I joined in and stopped to take a couple of pictures while walking across.

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I snapped a picture of this random lock with a heart drawn on it that was attached to the bridge. Super cute!

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I found an old sketch of the Southwark Iron Bridge while walking underneath it so I tried to be clever and make a comparison shot. The bridge in August of 1827 vs. the bridge in September of 2013:

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After a five and a half hour excursion, I happily jumped onto the Northern line at London Bridge station and sleepily rode home. I really enjoyed exploring London and meeting people on my own today. I tend to get really nervous meeting new people so I think that today was a really good opportunity to break out of the Worrell bubble and start becoming a semi-Londoner.

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