London Calling Once More
London just couldn’t keep me away last year. With my sister spending a semester there and me only a short hop away, I met up with my dad’s side of the family there, only to join my mom there two weeks later.
Now basically a pro at navigating the Madrid to London flightpath and the London Underground, I arrived on a Thursday night and caught up with my mom and sister in our hotel near my sister’s apartmentnear Bedford Square. Friday, we set out to continue my exploration of London, wandering the streets, all decked out in their Christmas finest, and having lunch in a traditional British pub before returning to the Houses of Parliament for another tour from my VIP/Parliament intern sister.
Next up was a stop at Harrods, the city’s famous department store, which, I’ll admit, put Spain’s El Corte Inglés to shame with its designer displays and themed decorations. There was no way I was going without missing their Disney section, complete with life-sized figurines, a Disney café, and, well, I’d say every piece of Disney merchandise you could want, but the World of Disney store outside of Disneyland still wins. When that was exhausted, we made a point of posing with Harrods giant teddy bears and checking out the display windows of Disney princess dresses designed by the likes of Valentino and Oscar de la Renta.
The city sparkled with Christmas lights and decorations, leaving me under the impression that few cities do Christmas as well as London. Enhancing my Christmas delight was Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland festival, featuring German-style beer halls, hot cider, gift stands, carnival rides, and more. If every city looked like London at Christmas time, the world would be a better place.
(Later edit for posterity’s sake: I forgot to mention when originally writing this that we also went to a West End performance of Jersey Boys. My mom and sister loved it; I was not as impressed, but, hey, can’t win them all, and seeing a bit of theater in London is a great experience.)
The following day, we boarded a train to Oxford. Braving the chilly temperatures, we explored the town, famous, of course, for its prestigious university, on a hop-on, hop-off bus. We hopped off at the Oxford Castle, which offered a cheesy tour from a costumed character guide that was surprisingly entertaining. After Thai food for lunch (such an exotic luxury coming from Spain!), we saw more of Oxford, including the eclectic Pitt Rivers Museum (shrunken heads, anyone?) and the Museum of Natural History. Cold and finished with Oxford’s sights, we saw Silver Linings Playbook in a cinema, which ran long and left us racing back to our train to London. Phew, made it.
I returned the next morning to Madrid, armed with a new appreciation for London and a smile after my second fantastic trip there that month. And after watching this video the other day, I’m itching to go back once more!