London: Days 1 and 2

I am woefully late in posting about London, which I visited last Thursday-Sunday. My week has been rather busy with both midterm season and internship season upon me. To top that off, I set some self-imposed deadlines for other projects I’m working on. I’ve been trying a new relaxed, easy-going approach to life. I’m only half succeeding. Baby steps.

I took the Eurostar from Paris to London Thursday evening. St. Pancras Station, where Eurostar arrives, is utterly gorgeous. I met my aunt at the attached hotel, the St. Pancras Renaissance, which is even more beautiful. Their restaurant is exquisite as well.

This doesn’t really capture how lovely the station is. It does, however, show London’s preparation for the Olympics.

Because hotels are rather expensive in London, I stayed at my friend’s flat. This was the view out my window:

Not bad.

After meeting my friend Kate at Paddington Station Friday morning, we headed to Kensington Gardens, which I’ve been waiting to visit for years.

As you can tell, I was only slightly excited.

Walking through a park is my kind of “outdoorsy” activity. Especially when snowmen are involved (see at left).

It had snowed the night before, but London was already beginning to warm up. By the end of the weekend, I had to shed my second jacket.

The main draw to Kensington Gardens though was this Peter Pan statue, which I’ve been dying to see in person since reading Rodrigo Fresan’s Kensington Gardens in 2008. It sparked a renewal of my Peter Pan obsession.

Perfection.

We wandered around Kensington Gardens a bit more, eventually ending up at the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain.

We bonded with some swans.

After making a brief detour through Hyde Park, we went to the Victoria and Albert Museums, which is one of my favorite museums in the world. I saw the exhibit “Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Beaton: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration.” I loved it so much, I couldn’t leave without the book. It was the first of many book purchases on my England trip.

A trip to England would not be complete without tea.

By the time we’d finished tea, it had grown dark. Harrod’s lit up at night was beautiful.

On our walk to Piccadilly Circus, we stopped by Buckingham Palace.

I think it’s absolutely stunning at night. Few people seemed to share my sentiment; it was completely deserted.

Kate headed back to Oxford that evening and I returned to the flat where I stayed to prepare for Day 3, which took place in Oxford.

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