Archive for the ‘Katie in London’ Category

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Katie: Coming home

July 28, 2011

Whelp, the time has come for a final post. I realize it is a little late, but I guess waiting this long has given me time to reflect on my adventure to the UK.

I spent my last days that I had in London exploring the city. I was able to attend the Harry Potter Red Carpet Premiere. I was amazed to have gotten as close as I did, especially since I thought I wouldn’t even get in. I ended up getting to Trafalgar Square later than I had hoped and was lucky enough to receive one of the wristbands needed to attend the premiere. So my friend Ayla, whom I met at the Hostel I was staying at, and I went back to our Hostel and waited til later that night when we checked out of the hostel and headed to Trafalgar Square to sleep…or at least try to sleep that night. We woke up at 4am with the sun and stood waiting for a total of 16 hours in the rain before the stars started to arrive.

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Ayla and I made some friends at the premiere – Sammy, Cat, Katie, and Elissa:

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I even made it in some press images:

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I was really excited to see J.K. Rowling

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The premiere was crazy, amazing, and so tiring but so worth it. It was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity and a great way to end the series that many of us grew up with. Coming to London I never thought I would sleep in Trafalgar Square.

The Last day I decided to bike around the city. A lot of things can get lost when you ride the tube everywhere. Your sense of direction is played with. So I decided to rent a bike for the day and spend my final hours riding around London.

Biking

I stumbled upon these pianos that were placed around the city for anyone to play.

After traveling for more that 23 hours I arrived back home.

So I have been back in America for a total of 17 days. It has been bittersweet. I keep remembering that I actually lived in another country and it boggles my mind realizing that my adventure is over. I miss London like crazy but being away for so long has made me appreciate America so much more. I haven’t gone through much culture shock, probably because I was only gone for 7 weeks as opposed to an entire semester. I have noticed that I still try to convert prices to dollars even though the price is already in dollars. I was overjoyed to walk into my room and see all of the clothes that I left here. After 7 weeks of wearing the same 10 outfits over and over again, I am so excited to wear different clothes. I am also enjoying the vast amount of open space here. Everything in London was crowded and condensed. I love looking out the window of the car and seeing cornfields, I will always have a piece of London with me but I still love Iowa.

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Katie: Brighton Beach

July 6, 2011

After my program ended in London, I had figure out what to do for 9 days. My original plan was to go to Greece or Italy, but I decided against that option for a number of reasons that included the current riots in Greece, the expense, and the fact that when I go to these two places I want to go for more than just a few days. So instead I decided to head to Brighton Beach, an hour away from London, which is placed right along the English Channel.

I stayed in my very first hostel and wow was it an experience. Baggies was great and very homey and cozy. And literally across the street from the beach, which was great. I could not get away from the crowded bedroom unfortunately. This time there were 4 bunk beds and twice as crowded. But it was definitely part of the experience and I went with the flow (especially since I will be home to my own bedroom in no time).

Oh, man it was great going to the beach. It suddenly started to feel like summer. Brighton is a pebble beach so it is not as comfy to walk or sit on but sand doesn’t get stuck to everything so that’s a plus!

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One of the things that Brighton is known for is the West Pier. It was built in 1866 and was very extravagantly designed. Plans were being made to renovate it before it burned down. twice. in 1975. Now it remains a ghost-like structure.

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The tide at Brighton varies a lot. You can see the difference in water level by the algae on the post in the picture on the left. It would be up to that level in the morning and then by sunset the water would be so low that there was sand that you could walk on.

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This boy was too cute. He was searching for rocks to add to the pile behind him and he refused to leave when his mom was calling him to go.

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When I arrived there was a festival taking place on the beach called “Paddle Round The Pier.” It was a carnival to raise money for charity and you could try out all kinds of water and land sports. I got to do stand up paddle surfing…it was awesome. I wish I had a picture of it. You can see what it is here. But it is pretty much just standing up on a surf board (which is definitely harder than it looks) and you have a boat paddle that you can use to paddle around in the water. It takes a lot of balance but once I got the hang of it, it was a lot of fun, apart from the fact that I made the mistake of watching Soul Surfer a few weeks ago(the movie about when Bethany Hamilton had her arm bitten off by a shark while she was surfing). I am fearful of deep water to begin with, especially when I can’t see the bottom. And then add that half the time I was worrying about whether sharks would think that my board was a turtle on the water and if they would attack at any minute. But once I got over all of that, it was a great time. My mom on the other hand would not have enjoyed this one bit (she is terrified of sharks)

There was not only 1 carousel but three!

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I thought they were really cute on the beach. If you are looking for that typical beach town for a summer holiday, Brighton is the place to go.

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The actual pier was huge. Complete with little shops and food vendors. It even had two arcades. If my brothers were here they would have enjoyed loosing all of their money trying to win tickets. My first day in Brighton someone jumped off the pier. Apparently it is the cool thing to do, called “Tombstoning.” I guess people get a thrill from jumping off the end of the pier during the summer. I happened to be on the beach when this happened. I didn’t see the person jump but I saw the life guards go running into the water and about 15 minutes later the coast guard came and they brought someone out of the water on a board with a neck brace on. The paper the next day said that he survived but shouldn’t have, after jumping 12 meters into water that was only 1 meter deep. Exciting stuff for my first day being in Brighton.

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 I was in Brighton for the 4th of July. Obviously no one was celebrating here, especially since the 4th of July is our celebration of our independence from Britain. I’m not sure if Brits are still a bit bitter, but I left the subject alone. I decided to celebrate by going to JB’s American Diner and my new Norwegian friend, Therese, came along with me. We had fun explaining our different national days and how we celebrate them back home.

When we arrived we asked the waitress if she was American and the waitress replied that no one at JB’s was actually American. Therese then asked if the waitress knew what day it was, and she did not so Therese and I explained that it was the 4th of July. When the waitress came with our food she told us that now she realized why they were told to put mini American flags on all of the food that day.  The food was delicious, and this was the first place that I was able to find that serves Mountain Dew in the UK. When we arrived back at the hostel Therese had me play the Star Spangled banner. I turned it up and we waved our mini American flags as the national anthem played and the other guests from France, Argentina, and Spain looked on. It was a great time and a great 4th of July.

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I’m now headed back to London after my Brighton adventure. I will have 4.5 days there before I venture back across the pond to Iowa!

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Katie: Starting to feel like home

June 27, 2011

Whew. Where to start. Welp, I got back from Paris just about two weeks ago and boy have these past two weeks flown by. We are at the final countdown everyone. Only one more week of class/work and then I have 9 days free until I fly home. It is weird to think that I am so close to going back when London is starting to feel like home. I have gotten into my routine. I am getting comfortable with my internship and my class. My roommates and I have found a tv show we watch together every Monday night [Made in Chelsea – England’s version of the Hills. I know it is trash but oh so entertaining]. And I am trying to experience as much of the city as I can with my time left. 

I realize that I forgot to post where I’m living and working [forgot to take a picture of CAPA where I have class]. On the left is Home Sweet Home. Located about 30 min by tube outside of central London. On the right is Aftershock. I work at the Head Quarters. Yes it does look like a warehouse because it is. The Head office is also where they have all of the clothing and mail out the online orders.  

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Below you have a picture of the Tube/London Underground. I actually miss riding it, though most would rather not. You see, the quickest and easiest way to get to work three days out of the week is to ride a red (single decker) bus so no tube for me until Wednesday when I venture into the city for class. The tube is often crowded and ho,t but the reason I like it is because the Metro and Evening Standard (free) newspapers are given out at Tube stations. So I don’t get to read the paper Monday and Tuesday which is quite sad. 

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Today we went to Changing of the Guard. It was great except for some pushy people. 

While (the English say Whilst) we were there the Queen must have been sneaky and left for Windsor Castle, her other home. We arrived and the Queen’s flag was flying (on the left) and then we glanced up sometime later and what do ya know, Union Jack was up there. It was crazy packed. (I included the picture on the left because I think it is funny. There was a very vocal duck that kept trying to waddle into the Queen’s Gallery so the security guards kept having to chase it out)

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The two guards that were changing played two songs each, it was cool to here them play and see them march and especially getting to compare their commands and marching styles to my experience in the U of M Marching Band. 

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Sarah and I go to church at Hillsong United. It takes place on Sundays (obviously) at the Dominion Theatre where the musical, We Will Rock You plays throughout the week. Last week after church we explored the SoHo area and found a quaint little public garden. 

Transport for London hires/schedules musicians to play on these little marked areas in the Underground Stations. They definitely brighten any mood and make the Underground a more enjoyable place. 

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Nutella is crazy popular over here. And can you believe I hadn’t tried it before coming to London? Well, big mistake on my part. It is delicious and apparently a healthy replacement for peanut butter (which they don’t have a lot of here). We decided to take our nutella craze to the next level and use it in puppy chow. All I have to say – delicious. 

It is that time of the year – Wimbeldon. If you don’t have a ticket (me) you can go to this mall that I stumbled upon and watch the matches in these lovely folding chairs on a big screen with the floor painted like a tennis court. It was great. Except Andy Roddick’s loss.
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We decided to paint again. This time, Big Ben, our favorite clock tower. Painting this time was a whole different experience. No one came up to us (luckily), it was dark out because we did it after class one day, there were pigeons everywhere, and there was not a patch of grass in sight to sit on. Even though it was different it was just as much fun. 

Here we are all finished! Except for Sarah, she was feeling creatively challenged. 🙂
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Katie: Living like a Londoner

June 8, 2011
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After last week’s funk it seems like I have gotten over the hump and am sailing smoothly for now. I still miss my family and home like crazy but I am enjoying my time here in London and it is starting to feel more comfortable and more like home. I was also reminded by a close friend that even though everything is different here and there may be some stumbles along the way, God is always constant and He is always there. This week has been the week of living like a Londoner. I am pretty much through seeing all of the tourist attractions and have been exploring the city more comfortably, like I belong here. I have realized that I enjoy experiencing everyday London activities more than some of the famous tourist sites.

Lblog_1This week I went to Speaker’s corner in Hyde Park and saw people stand on raised platforms ranting about whatever they were passionate about. It wasn’t as great as I thought it would be. I think I would enjoy it more if it included lighter, less serious, topics and didn’t include your usual condemning/political nonsense. A lot of people were gathered around and listening to the speakers, but it was not my cup of tea (haha my first London pun). Though I have to admit it was fun observing the event and how it drew people’s attention. 

I also had the opportunity to go to a legit Polo Match after being one of the first to respond for free tickets. It was very interesting to see how the upper class enjoy sporting events in London. It was also fun to see the game being played and how proper it is compared to the rough game of rugby. We received general admission tickets so we didn’t get grandstand seats but we were able to stand right up along the side of the field and experience all of the action. The entire event could be described as a high class carnival. There were tents set up for casual shopping and Harrods (one of, if not, the most expensive department stores in London) catered the event. A hot dog was 9 pounds which would be around $15. Let’s just say we ate when we got home.
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Lblog_9One of the tourist attractions we did go see this week was Westminster Abbey. This is near the top of my list of favorite things that I have seen/done in London. We paid the extra 3 pounds for the guided tour and it was worth every pence. We got to hear the background and history of the beautiful abbey and we even got to go in areas that the general public wasn’t allowed. We got to sit in the area that the little choir boys sat while singing at the royal wedding (of course the wedding was all I could think about while at Westminster). We also got to go in the area behind the main alter where the new Duke and Duchess went to sign their wedding license during the ceremony. 

When we walked out of the tube station there was a race going on right in front of Westminster. It made me want to run again so badly. Later that day I looked up races in London and am planning on doing the Victoria Park 10k later this June. I am excited to run again.

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A store that I discovered while wandering around the city this week was Paperchase. Oh how I wish we had one in Minneapolis. Myself along with every designer would spend days in one if we had time. It is filled with different weights and textures of paper, tons of cards and postcards, lots of objects with neat graphic designs printed on them such as boxes, bags, folders, notebooks, and laptop cases. They have it all! I managed to control myself and only bought 5 postcards, but I am planning a trip back very soon to look around some more! 

After waiting 7 years I got to see Wicked. I remember in 9th grade when the drama club went to Chicago to see the amazing musical and my mom wouldn’t let me go because I had already signed up to volunteer at a camp that week. Least to say I was very disappointed and have wanted to see it ever since. After looking for every opportunity to see it (without paying through the nose for tickets) I got to go Thursday night and it was utterly amazing. I was very impressed and look forward to seeing it again someday.

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Finally, the highlight of my week. This morning I went to Hillsong Church in London with my friend Sarah. It takes place in the same theater that the “We Will Rock You” Musical is housed in (the Dominion theater). Which is huge! There were definitely a couple thousand people there. The whole time I kept thinking that it is so cool that I am thousands of miles away from home and immersed in a new culture and surrounded by people that live in a different way than I, but our God is 100% the same. It was so cool to be able to see so many people on fire, worshiping the Lord this morning.

Now for some random things that Katie learned/did while in London this week, whoo!

  • this week was national ice cream week and I got ice cream from an ice cream truck for the first time in my life. it was great.
  • zip code is called a postal code
  • When a Queen is queen by birth right then there will not be a King appointed. [example: Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip]. When a King is appointed King because of birthright [i.e. Prince Charles and Prince William someday] they have the power to make their wife [i.e. Camilla and Kate] a Queen. This is because the title of King has more power than the title of Queen. That is why Prince Philip is only a Prince and not King – because Elizabeth was the heir to the thrown and she must have the higher power. So this means that Kate can/will most likely be given the title of Queen one day.
  • At the brand and packaging museum I learned that postcards used to cost only half of a penny to send and a postcard could be posted in the morning and arrive in the afternoon of the same day. That’s one fast snail to deliver the mail.
  • My teacher calls himself an “old fuddy duddy” I think this is humorous
  • The English say that they speak English and we speak American. Interesting.
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Katie: Homesickness

June 1, 2011

Wow it has been a whirlwind of two weeks! I feel like I am starting to get the hang of London…kind of. Though they speak English and there are a lot of things that are similar to life in the US, I feel lost here. Not the lost that requires directions, because to be honest, I am quite good with directions and finding my way. I feel lost in a different sense. To just go to class I have to think twice as hard to do normal, everyday activities. I have to make sure I look right and then left before crossing the street. I am constantly having to flip over the coins in my hand to read whether it is a five pence or ten pence or twenty pence. In the US we walk on the right side, just like we drive. In London, they drive on the left side, so it would only make sense that you would also walk on the left side. Not true. London is a city full of confused people that don’t know what side to walk on, so everyone just walks on both sides pushing and running into one another, without even a mutter of an apology. 

Now, I’m not trying to dis on London, it is a great and wonderful city, full of life, color, and it is different. I think that last word is what describes these last two weeks perfectly. It is not that the US is better in any way or that I hate what I have experienced so far in this new city. It is simply just different. And the difference and sudden change is just jarring and confusing and difficult. This week was the week of homesickness. I feel the distance that is separating me from home, from what I know and what comes easy. It seems like a lot of people were hit with homesickness this weekend. How did we comfort ourselves you ask? We went to an American diner 🙂 Filling up with a cheeseburger, fries, onion rings, and a milk shake. It left us satisfied and gave us a little piece of home to carry with us as we begin our week. Today was a bank holiday in London and Memorial day in the US so I guess you can say we “grilled out” for the Memorial Day weekend and celebrated by eating American food. 

The “vacation” feel of the trip has worn off, and I am now into homework and working 20 hours a week at my internship at Aftershock London. I am excited to learn through these opportunities as well. I think there is only so much you can learn by going on tours, I look forward to learning through the people I interact with at my internship in addition to exploring the city. 

This week we ventured out to Stonehenge and Bath. Stonehenge being the big rocks in the middle of nowhere. And Bath being the home of Jane Austen and the ancient Roman bath made from the natural hot springs located underneath the city. The trip into the countryside of London was definitely a breath of fresh air (literally). It was nice to have space to have a personal bubble again, not to mention get away from the smog and exhaust fumes of the city. (don’t read this if you are easily grossed out and don’t say I didn’t warn you—my snot has been black from all of the smog and pollution in the air ever since I got here.). The country was nice and it was fun to see the city that was inspiration to Jane Austen and then getting to watch Pride & Prejudice on the 2 hr bus ride home. 

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I was told that Stonehenge is not that exciting so I was preparing myself to be disappointed. I was surprised to actually enjoy Stonehenge a lot. We also made our own fun, taking pictures and trying to make it look like we were pushing down one of the rocks.

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 Friday evening we went to the Victoria and Albert Museum for a party. The museum was focusing on fashion designer Yohgi Yamamoto and we got to explore and partake in special events and activities focused around his art.

I got caught in my first thunderstorm so far in London. My shoes and the ankles of my jeans were soaked. I bought a cheap sweatshirt to keep warm and decided to keep exploring Leicester Square since I was already wet and didn’t feel like going back to my flat and wasting the rest of the day inside.

We also made a trip to the London Eye. Going at sunset was a great choice.

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We were able to have enough light to take amazing pictures and then when we were done, we got to see Big Ben at night.

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Katie: What London has taught me so far

May 23, 2011

Word of the Day: ‘Pram’ used in place of ‘Stroller’

Though London is very different than the United States I find myself forgetting that I am in a completely different country. I have had fun playing tourist these first few days [I should really start acting like a student/intern/londoner and not be so giddy about possibly seeing Kate Middleton and the Royal Family – though I am not going to hold back my excitement in seeing all of these major historic places and landmarks one bit. Nope, I am not ashamed to be a tourist!] and have gotten to see many parts of this great city. The first day here we ventured out and found Buckingham Palace. The Queen was in Ireland so we had the slightest hope to get to go in for a tour, but sadly that only happens during the months of August-October so we only got to see the outside of the Queen’s digs. We also made it out to Kensington Gardens to see the Palace and home of Diana, Prince William, and Prince Harry when they were growing up. We followed the path and found Princess Diana’s memorial fountain and the Peter Pan statue. 

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 [Buckingham Palace]

My favorite place so far has been the borough of Camden and Camden Market. It is an area north of Central London near Regents Park. I absolutely loved it: an everyday market of tons of vendors selling hand made and vintage clothing, jewelry, and odds n ends, so pretty much like a huge garage sale, and I love garage sales! I got a blanket that has a design printed from wood blocks and it is absolutely beautiful. I also enjoyed this trip to Camden because it was the first time that I wasn’t rushed and didn’t have a set time I needed to leave to get somewhere else. I was able to wander around the neighborhood and shops as slowly or as quickly as I wanted. I also loved walking the path along the canal that goes through Camden with boats passing by. It was a much needed break from the structured schedule I have experienced since arriving in London. 

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[in Kensington Gardens and a View of Camden]

I have learned such a hodge-podge of information but i love it! And I will now share some with you: 

  • On Sundays people can go to the lawn of Hamilton Palace and rant and rave about anything they choose as long as it does not include demonstrations or violence or insulting the Royal family in any way. They cannot stand on the ‘sod’ so they bring boxes to stand on, thus giving us the use of the soapbox. 
  • Out of more than 700 rooms in Buckingham Palace, the Queen only occupies 12 of them for her personal housing. 
  • Many people confuse the Tower Bridge [seen below] for the London Bridge. The Tower Bridge replaced the London Bridge when it fell down and was moved up the river. 
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  • The way we use ‘buck’ in place of ‘dollar’ Brits use ‘quid’ in place of ‘pound’
  • British currency includes: a penny coin, a two pence coin, a five pence coin, a ten pence coin, a twenty pence coin, a fifty pence coin, a pound coin, and a two pound coin. The bills begin with the five pound, ten pound, twenty pound and so on.
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[St Paul’s Cathedral]

I now have the longest address ever. I live on Castlebar Park Road, in the Borough of Ealing, in the City of London, In the Country of England, in Great Britain, in the United Kingdom, which makes up the British Isles, in Europe. 🙂

People in England are not ‘stand-offish’ most of them are just very shy. In fact, on the tube/underground, no one talks and it is easy to pick out the tourists because they are the only ones talking while on the train. 

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[I absolutely love the character of architecture the buildings have in London!]

Next Up: I have my interview for my internship tomorrow and class wednesday and thursday. Saturday I get to go to Stonehenge and Bath!

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Katie: London Calling

May 20, 2011
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It’s a weird feeling, traveling alone. I’ve been on a plane plenty of times for school trips and family vacations and I have ventured out and discovered the bus system in Minneapolis but I have never traveled more than 4500 miles on a plane, all alone. I traveled all by my big self across the Atlantic Ocean to good ole London, England for a study abroad and internship, and I don’t know anyone. The situation is very similar to my adventure from Urbandale, IA to Minneapolis for college. I didn’t know a single person and that was my goal. To branch out and get out of my comfort zone. To meet new people and build new relationships. And that is my plan for this trip. I am excited for what God is planning on teaching me while I’m 4500 miles away from anything that is familiar. 

I met my first Brit before I even left the midwest! I met Oliver while getting off the small plane from Des Moines at the Minneapolis airport. He had been visiting his brother in Iowa and was on his way home. We chatted while walking to gate G6 (yes I started singing the song in my head when I heard the gate number). He loved his time at Living History Farms and Adventureland and showed me the souvenir mug he had purchased at the amusement park. It was so weird finding him so excited about the places I grew up going to, but I guess it is the same thing with me and my excitement to see Buckingham Palace, ride the Tube, and keep an eye out for the Queen (in my dreams). 

I am so excited for the next 7 weeks of this journey. 

Next up this week: Buckingham Palace, A Panoramic Bus tour of London, and Camden Market!

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