Today was both nerve-racking and exciting at the same time. I left early this morning to head into the central London to tour the Houses of Parliament and ride the London Eye. It was my first time ever riding the tube and I was really nervous to do it. But let me just say, hats off to whomever designed this thing. It's the easiest public transportation I've ever used. No way you could lost...unless of course you didn't check ahead of time to see which station you were headed to. Anyways, piece of cake. I got off the Tube at Westminster and climbed the stairs to see the lovely side wall of the Houses of Parliament. I'm looking around and I'm like, "Where's Big Ben???" The station exit was literally right underneath it! Didn't occur to me to look straight up when I got to street level!
Next I meandered my way to the visitor's entrance of the Houses of Parliament. The tour was great and really informative as a foreigner. I really had no idea how the UK's government operated and now I do! It's both fascinating and breath-taking inside. We weren't allowed to take pictures once we left Westminster Hall. Everything is honored with traditional and centuries of procedure. It was cool to honor that. It would have been nice if people hadn't brought their annoying and obviously disinterested children along but oh well.
When I left the tour I wasn't sure what I was going to do next but one glance at the weather and I made my decision: it was sunny! The skies had cleared and I knew it was perfect timing to go on the London Eye. I bought a fast pass flexi ticket (totally recommend if you ever go) which meant I could go any time that day and I got a wayyyyyyy shorter line. The ride was long, there were few seats, a lot of annoying kids (have you picked up that I really don't like kids?), and I was absolutely exhausted from standing and walking and not having eaten much. I loved the view, but the surrounding could have allowed a much more enjoyable experience. But again, oh well! I'm just happy I got to see London in the sun.
After that I got back on the tube to make the short trip to Oxford Street. If you're not familiar, it's one of (if not THE) largest retail strip in central London. Absolutely massive crowds of people. But I wanted to just hit a few stores and honestly just wanted to ride the tube as much as possible so I could get used to it. I went to Forever 21 (amazing), the Disney Store (disappointed)...and then a UK store called Primark. This store gave me so much anxiety, I'm honestly surprised I survived. But they have tons of great clothes and really cheap prices. Got a few things then decided to head back home before I passed out from exhaustion.
All in all, it was a great day. I'm slowly but surely getting more comfortable here and I was assured by a friend that the first month is usually really hard. Comforting. Next weekend, the plan is to see Kensington Palace (do the names Will and Kate ring a bell?), Hyde Park, the Natural History museum, and Buckingham Palace on Saturday. Sunday is the Super Bowl (GO HAWKS!!!!!) so I'll be hitting the campus pub to watch the game! Stay tuned!