The sad time came for us to pack up our backpacks once again and leave our Guildford haven. But first… scones!
After that brief distraction, we got ready and gathered our (pathetically small number of) things as slowly as possible. Leaving Henley House was like leaving your parents the first time you go to summer camp; we were clinging on for dear life and didn’t want to be kicked out in to the big, bad, scary world. The time had come.
We dragged ourselves out of the car at the train station, thanked our surrogate host family for their generous hospitality, and hopped the next train into the city. On the ride, we reflected on how interesting it was getting an inside look at how another family functions. Everyone has their funny quirks and problems and tries to put on their best face for outsiders, but it’s the rough patches and weird dynamics between people that we can all relate to, and it’s what forms bonds and makes relationships stronger.
Ok. Pensive tangent over.
Once we got into London, we hopped the Tube towards our hostel, which was AWESOME!
Anyone staying downtown should definitely check out Astor Hyde Park. We were there for less than 24 hours, but the staff was super helpful and easy to talk to, the building’s layout and history was really interesting, and it was right next to Hyde Park; and, as you know, we ❤ parks. Actually, that leads us to our next activity of the day: hanging out in a park. SURPRISE!
The hostel was also verrrry close to our new favorite restaurant, Nandos, which was a required stop before exploring any nearby parks.
After filling up on chicken, we made our way towards Hyde park, but first we had a big dessert decision to make…
After getting our wandering-through-urban-greenscapes fix, we had some business to take care of. Turns out, finding public transportation from obscure airports can be HARD (thanks a bunch, RyanAir). After over an hour of clicking around websites, reading awful reviews about pretty much our only shuttle option to the London Stansted airport, and figuring out how to get to the shuttle stop from our hostel at 4:30 am, Abi was pretty close to dropkicking everything in sight. Traveling's not all fun and games, people!
Cue: Happy hour
Seriously, though… Happy hours cure all bad moods. We got in the habit of going to the same bar at Pitt after a 3-hour class we had on Fridays last semester, and it was the only thing that got everyone through those afternoons. Hence, it is declared that the follow-up to any stressful or frustrating situation be a happy hour.
The students at Imperial College London seemed to agree because we ran right into the middle of their happy hour in the courtyard and on-campus BAR. Yes, the school's bar. Why can't American colleges have those? Let's get on that, United States.
Having just finished undergrad, Abi and I put on our grad student faces and walked around like we owned the place. In all honesty, we probably just looked like some lost tourists, but no one questioned us as we creeped through stairwells and stuck our heads into various rooms.
We took a brief tour of the streets surrounding our hostel, running into our old friend Royal Albert Hall again.
Back in the hostel, we had the pleasure of talking to a hilarious Canadian couple who told stories of getting shat on by huge pigeons in Dover (I think we're going to avoid that place in the future) and an Argentine girl who went to the University of Buenos Aires who was traveling around on her own. We definitely prefer having our own beds in a quiet room, but there's something to be said for all of the interesting people you meet in hostel dorm rooms.
We were off to bed pretty early after that because SPAIN!!! Get ready.
– Alexa & Abi