A Belated But Prolonged Spring Break pt.1
While all of my friends from home had their spring breaks a few weeks ago, mine began this week. I think it was placed at an odd point in the semester, because it is a two-week break, and there will only be two weeks of class when I return to France, but I’ve learned that many things about France are odd compared to what I’m used to from home.
Early last Friday morning, I departed from my room in Besancon and begun the long journey to the UK. After the two-hour train ride to Paris, I hopped on the metro and went to Gare du Nord to find my train to London. This was the first time that I ever traveled by train to a different country, and I was surprised to see that it was similar to air travel.
I had my passport stamped by French border control and went through security before I needed to go through UK customs. I was asked so many questions, ranging from my parents’ jobs to how a trip to England would improve my studies.
That was the hard part. Two and a half hours after that, I was in London. The London underground system was much easier to figure out than I had expected– I easily got from London St Pancras to London Blackfriars, where I got on a train to a city called Brighton.
Brighton is a cute city along the coast, with a large student population. I spent the weekend there visiting a childhood camp friend, Rhys, who goes to university in Brighton. Friday night and Saturday, Rhys showed me all of the best parts of Brighton: the pier, the rocky beaches, fish & chips, the North End (full of antique shops and thrift stores).
On Sunday, Rhys and I took a train to see Stonehenge. It was a typical English day– rainy, cold and windy. On Monday, we spent a few hours in Oxford. It’s another lovely city, which was really just built to satisfy the 800-year-old Oxford University. We learned a lot about the city’s history and saw many of the historic sights.
Late Monday afternoon, I said goodbye to Rhys and went back to London. My cousin Catherine, who is spending the semester in London, met me at Paddington Station. Catherine is staying in a flat in the Paddington district, which is a really great area. It’s close to Kensington Gardens, which is one of my favorite parks that I’ve visited.
This is my second visit to London, but it is very different to be here with a friend during springtime than when I was here with my family during the wintertime. I’ve seen some sights I missed during my last trip, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Peter Pan statue. And, of course, I’ve revisited the major sights, like Big Ben, the London Eye, Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace, and Westminster Abbey.
I am loving London. This city feels the closest to home out of every place I’ve traveled to this summer. Maybe it’s the language or just the similar luxuries, like Netflix and sushi. I still have a few more days in London before I go off to Holland, which will all be discussed in my next post!