7.5 Hours in London

This past Sunday, I booked a last minute bus ticket to London to meet up with two of my friends from Drexel, who were studying abroad in Scotland and Denmark. When planning the trip I found that traveling by coach bus was significantly cheaper than taking the train. While the train ride may have been about 45 minutes faster, I only spent £11 round-trip, instead of over £100! I took public transportation from my flat to the bus station and then hopped on a bus that went straight to London. While the train might have been quicker, the bus was smooth and very economical, which makes it my recommended mode of transportation from one part of England to another.

We decided to hit many major tourist spots as they were all within walking distance and lucky for us, the weather forecast for the day looked good with no rain. To our surprise, the London Marathon was happening the same day! As we walked all over London, we were able to catch different parts of the race and watch marathoners from all over the world. There were thousands of people lined up along the route holding banners and blowing whistles in support of the athletes. This was my first time watching a marathon in person, and the the positive energy and happiness in the city radiated excitement.

The day was jam-packed from start to finish. I visited London 10 years ago, and I actually remember it quite well. But I have a much deeper appreciation for the historic city and the architecture. We began at Buckingham Palace before heading to Westminster Abbey, where the government buildings are located. I’ve learned a lot about Parliament in my social policy class this term, so seeing the buildings where it all happens was fascinating.

Westminster Abbey

Next up, the Big Ben. It was still under construction and the clock face was hidden on three of the four sides. However after crossing the Westminster bridge and walking along the Thames, we were able to see the face. The walking path by the Thames was covered in pink and red hearts, each one representing the passing of a loved one due to COVID-19. Many people stopped and wrote little notes with markers, a touching memorabilia after the pandemic.

After a quick snack break we were off to see the London Eye. I wasn’t planning to ride the enormous ferris wheel, as I had already experienced it during my last trip to London, but I’m so glad I did! The sky was completely clear which meant the views of London were perfect, making the experience even more special. It’s was 30 minute ride, but it felt like 5 minutes. I could’ve stayed all day, however, there was still more to see.

View from the London Eye

Next, we walked across the Waterloo bridge and made our way towards Trafalgar Square. There were tons of cafes and shops that lined the street, and in the center were 4 giant lion statues surrounding a pillar. I probably commented on the weather being amazing at least a dozen times because, in that moment, I jinxed it. In true London fashion the torrential downpour came from nowhere, luckily only lasting 15 minutes. Then we were on our way to the last stop of the day, Piccadilly Circus. This is where Westminster meets the West End, which means the architecture shifts to a combination of old, historic buildings with modern shops and restaurants. The West End is also home to all the musicals and theatre shows, just like Broadway in New York City.

Piccadilly Circus

I loved everything about my day trip to London, and getting to spend it with close friends from Drexel made it so special. I really squeezed in everything I possibly could in those 7.5 hours. From roaming the streets lined with some of the oldest buildings I’ve ever seen, to cheering on the marathoners, the day was perfect from start to finish.

After saying a “see you soon!” to my friends, I made my way to the same bus station I arrived at. The trip back was just as smooth as the way there, and I made it to my flat around 8 pm. I was exhausted after clocking in more than 10 miles of walking, but it was one of the most memorable days I’ve had so far! Now that I’ve hit the major tourist spots, I’m looking forward to a much more relaxing trip to London next time!

A Message from the Office of Global Engagement:

The safety and security of Drexel students is a priority for the University. As part of the efforts to support Drexel students that are studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Global Engagement has conducted a rigorous review of programming and provided additional support to participating students with customized pre-departure orientations and regular check-ins during the required self-isolation period and the term.