During the FIBA break our coaches gave us Monday through Wednesday off which I spent in Paris with Kesia and Nikki. Thursday and Friday those of us who were still in town had practice, and then we had the weekend off. Kesia, Nikki and I planned a quick weekend trip to London since there was a 2 hour direct train from Paris to London and back! Nikki had been to London as a child as she has family who lives there, but this would be a first for both my sister. So it would be fun to have this experience of exploring London for the first time together!
Saturday morning at 4:30 am with the help of my awesome teammate Ingrid (thank you Ingrid!!) we were able to order a driving service that would drive us from Bourges directly to the Gare du Nord station. There we would catch our 8:00 am Eurostar train from Paris to London! The train was quite smooth and extremely comfortable, on the way in we bought standard premier tickets because they were cheaper than the standard tickets. As a result we had comfortable seats with plenty of leg space, outlets at our seats (French and UK outlets since they're different), free wifi, and free endless amounts of breakfast. During this trip I discovered that my taste buds have changed and I now enjoy jam, strawberry jam to be exact.
Once we arrived in London with the help of the app City Mappers (I would suggest downloading it if you want to metro while in london without problems) we made our way to my sister's friend, Jordash's apartment. She was kind enough to allow us to sleep at her place for the night instead of buying a hotel room. We arrived at her place, changed, dropped off our bags and began our day of exploration. First stop: Buckingham Palace.
Buckingham Palace was packed with tourists and spectators so we were under the impression that something important was taking place. While there we saw a marching band come through, and these official looking people on horses. We wanted to take pictures with those guards that you often see in movies that supposedly never smile, but we didn't see them. Once we had our fill with Buckingham Palace, we continued walking down St. James Park until we reached Westminster. It was there that I got my first glance of Big Ben. I had always seen Big Ben in movies or in my friends tourist pictures, so to finally be able to be in London and see it for myself was wonderful. And I guess Big Ben wanted to make the experience extra special for us because when we reached it in Parliament Square at noon, it began chiming its bells.
In Parliament square we took a lot of photos of the views, the iconic double decker red buses and the beautiful architectural structures that surrounded us. As we continued our walk, we walked through the Whitehall Gardens which gave us our first view of the London Eye. The view was beautiful and the ferris wheel was located along the river. Once again my sister wanted to go on the London Eye, but I was not putting my life in danger, and apparently Nikki didn't want to either, so the only memories she has of it is her pictures (sorry, not sorry Kesia).
Next up, lunch! I don't know about you, but Nikki, Kesia and I really enjoy watching YouTube videos, and some of the YouTubers we watch always talk about eating at Nandos in London, so Nandos was the plan for lunch. Yes, there is a Nandos in Canada (I've been three times - all in the same week, don't judge me) but we wanted to experience it where it came from, and boy it did not disappoint! The food was absolutely scrumptious, warmed our bodies and gave us the renewed energy we needed to continue exploring more of London.
Lunch was followed by a visit to Trafalgar Square where we went back to Canada for a few minutes. Ok, so not Canada, but technically and legally kind of sort of, we went to the Canadian Embassy and looked at the Innuit gallery that was on display. Before leaving we also signed the guest book. Then we decided to pop inside the National Gallery and take a look at the art work that was on display there. There were and are so many talented artists who have lived and shared their gift with the world.
We then walked over to Piccadilly Circus, admired all the christmas lights and did some unsuccessful shopping, because no one bought anything. Feeling drained, we went back to Jordash's apartment where we would end up sleeping (Nikki was knocked out) and or relaxing watching some interesting UK reality dating shows and game shows before heading out for dinner later that night. We ate at a Burger place that was pretty good. I am not a huge burger eater, so I got a salad and mac and cheese on the side.
After dinner, I was beat, felt a cold coming on (Kesia infected me!) and just wanted my bed, so I called it a night. Kesia and Nikki on the other hand wanted to go out since they were in London, so they got all dolled up and then headed out to a bar for the evening accompanied by Nikki's friend who lives in London.
The following morning, Nikki was picked up by her family members who live in London and hung out with them for the remainder of her time there. Kesia and I went out for breakfast, then made it our mission (or well, mostly mine. Ok, no, it was just my mission. But Kesia was happy to join me) to find the 9 3/4 Harry Potter platform at the train station. After all, you can't go to London and not do something Harry Potter related! On our mission to try and find the platform, we came across the hotel where the moving staircase (Harry Potter fans know what I am talking about) were filmed which was pretty cool. It was just amazing being in settings that were in or based on the movie. When we finally found the platform we were greeted by a crazy long line that we joined. It was a really long wait, but the photos we got out of it were totally worth it!
Overall even though our London trip was short, and the weather was frigid, we had a fun time, and it was nice to say that I experienced a new country and city with my sister and best friend! If you plan on going to London, I would recommend going when the weather is warmer, and for longer than a weekend. Regardless of the weather and length, I am so thankful and grateful for the opportunity to travel! It was also a cool and comfortable experience taking the Eurostar train that travels under water. And to answer your question: no, you can't tell when you're under water, you just feel like you're in a very long dark tunnel.
Thanks for stopping by and God bless,