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  • Writer's pictureElisha Bae

Trip to the UK!

* NOTE: I lost everything I wrote for this post and didn't have a clue it wasn't published until a while later. Now I'm trying to remember things from memory, which is proving to be harder than it seems. Some descriptions may be much shorter than others since that's all I remember...!


It's been almost two years since I've been to England. That was during our Year 6 graduation trip in connection with the girls at NLCS UK. Now, I'm back from an exhilarating trip with my family! It was truly an unforgettable experience, and I'd like to share some of the things we've done.


1st Day

→ Arrival

→ Waterstones bookstore

  • Not far from our hotel, there was a really big bookstore. The three floors were packed with all sorts of books ranging from fiction to academic resources. Even the biggest bookstore in Korea doesn't have that many books in English (or any other language other than Korean, for that matter), so I'd spent so much time going back and forth around the aisles to pick up books that I wouldn't be able to get in Korea. Later, I found out that it's one of the most well-known bookshops in London.

Fortnum & Mason

  • My whole family has a sweet tooth which made this stop a very important one. When we walked in, it showed how important 'having tea' was in the UK. The shop was as big as a department store and was more like a tea museum than anything. The sweet scent of the desserts and the aroma of herbs and flowers was almost dizzying, but it was a pleasant experience. We bought some fudge and Turkish delight (now I know why Edmund from The Chronicles of Narnia switched sides at the mention of this). There were so many things to choose from that I might not have left this place if it weren't for the fact that there were so many people coming in.

→ Buckingham Palace + Green Park

  • It sort of made me imagine what it would be like to be royalty in the 21st century. Since Korea stopped being a monarchy more than a century ago, the thought of having a King or a Queen is so foreign, and it sounds like a fairytale story. I'm old enough to know that real life is much different from what is portrayed in movies or stories, but still, it's a thought :)


2nd Day

→ Trafalgar Square

→ The National Gallery

  • There were many famous paintings that I recognized here. It seemed like my books on different artwork came to life!

→ Leeds Castle

→ Rye Castle

  • We ended up not going to the museum but to the Church of Mary & explored the town instead.


3rd Day

→ The Seven Sisters cliff

  • A very windy place, but held nature's wonders! I went down to the beach to get closer to the stone wall that was the cliff, and it towered over me. It's amazing what time, wind, and probably rain can do to things like rocks.

→ Bath (Roman's Bath, explored the town)

  • It was quite interesting to actually be at a place I learned about in my Latin class. If the water seemed cleaner, I would've opted for a bath myself!

→ Stonehenge

  • I was pretty excited about visiting Stonehenge, mostly because it reminded me a lot about the movie Brave from Disney/Pixar. And seeing those great big stone pillars, I wondered what historical events they would've been a part of in the past.


4th Day

→ Castle Combe

  • This was the town where the movie version of 'War Horse' was filmed. I did recognize some familiar spots while going around.

→ St Andrew's Church

→ The Old Stables

→ The Castle Inn

→ Blenheim Palace (Winston Churchill)

  • This place was where Winston Churchill grew up. It had the whole history starting from his early childhood to how he led Britain during the World War. Again, this was something that I learned quite thoroughly in my history class, which made it more fun for me to explore.

→ Daylesford (Daylesford Organic)

  • I dare say this was in the top 3 best places I've visited in the UK. The restaurant that we went to had the best smoothie I ever tasted. All the ingredients that made up our food were fresh and tasted so good.



5th Day

→ Oxford University

  • This day was sort of a 'college tour' day for me. Since I go to a school that follows a British curriculum, it had always been natural for me to think that I would pursue higher education in the UK. Oxford and Cambridge were some of the best schools, and it was not too far away from the place we were staying, so we thought it would be worthwhile. Oxford was a busy, busy campus — not much so because of the students there but because of the tourists occupying the streets. It actually didn't feel like a school campus at all; it was more like a small city with an academic touch. The places without too many people were very beautiful -- the gardens were very well kept. I did want to go in and explore the buildings a bit more, but unfortunately, this was during the summer holiday when they locked most of the facilities from tourists. Still, it was a great way to get to know the university a bit more :)

→ Cambridge University

  • Since Cambridge is located more in the countryside, away from the city centre, it was definitely quieter and tranquil compared to the busy streets of Oxford. One of the activities that my family did there was punting, which is where you go on a small gondola-like boat, and travel on the river that flows through and around the campus. A sad-but-pretty-funny incident was that the punter who was acting as a tour guide got his hands stung by a bee (my fear of bees doesn't seem too excessive now, does it?). It happened so quickly, but I felt so bad for him... But the actual river ride was pretty cool! I've always had Oxford on my mind more than Cambridge, but the lovely campus had a lasting impression on me, more so than Oxford.


6th Day

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

  • One promise that my mum made me when we were planning our trip was that we would visit the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London -- more commonly known as all things Harry Potter related. It was my dream to see where the magic took place (mind the pun) while filming the epic series. I ended up purchasing Hermione's wand, but I'm so proud of myself for the immense self-control I had in the souvenir shop.

→ Diagon Alley

  • When I stepped into this area, it really just felt like I stepped into one of the Harry Potter books (or movies). Everything was bustling with life, and I was able to walk into famous stores like 'Ollivanders' for stacks and stacks of wands, 'Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes' for some sweets and laughs, and 'The Leaky Cauldron for a sip of butterbeer (though I liked the butterbeer ice cream better).

→ Hogwarts Castle

  • I saw the scaled model of the whole Hogwarts Castle! It was small, obviously, but so intricately designed and big for a scale model. They apparently used this to film anything involving the full, outside view of Hogwarts.

→ The Forbidden Forest

  • Slightly creepy, but what's the Forbidden Forest without the creepiness? It showcased the mystical animals you could encounter -- I even saw an acromantula and a manticore!

→ Hogwarts Express

  • This was one of the best photo spots at the place, and I pretended I was one of the students on my way to the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!


(to watch me attempt broom-riding, skip to around 2:00)


→ The Savill Garden

  • Opened by the Queen herself in 2010, this 'garden' is more like a retreat to the beautiful wilderness! There were rare flowers and uncommon woodlands that made everything look like a fairytale. Unfortunately, one thing that flowers attract is bees (and wasps), and I am hopeless about those things. I've never been stung by one, and I know that our world would possibly not exist without them, BUT I always end up panicking and crying. So I had to cut the walk around the garden short and spend my time looking at pretty souvenirs and gardening books. Something I do remember other than being scared out of my wits is the meal I had -- they had the most wonderful fish 'n chips I ever had in my life. That's something I definitely recommend.

Mercedes-Benz World (really, Dad..?)

  • My dad, being a dad, bonded with our tour guide over vehicles. That's why when the tour guide informed us that there was a Mercedes-Benz World near our hotel, that was apparently where we were headed next. The museum itself was bigger than I thought, with a lot of different cars from historic times. I actually did end up enjoying the visit, mostly because I got a miniature car model out of it.


7th Day

→ Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

  • Another great big garden with beautiful flowers and a lot of swans! I saw a black swan for the first time in my life!

→ Newens (The Original Maids of Honour)

→ Hamleys Toy Shop

  • Even at age 15, I'm not ashamed to say that I love toys of all sorts. But what really caught my eye was the How To Train Your Dragon playmobile set (playmobile is like Lego but less.. brick-y). I didn't even know they made those! The details and design were breathtakingly well done. I especially loved the Berk and Dragon Riders set with Stoick, Hiccup, and Astrid. But upon thinking about it for a while, I knew it would be unrealistic to heave in a big box along with all of our luggage back to Korea. Perhaps they'd sell it in Korea, my mum assured me.

→ London Bridge

  • It was quite ironic that I never got to go across London Bridge until the very end of our trip. This was when we were going to the airport. I really hoped that it didn't fall down while we were going across it 😅


 

Well, there you have it! My trip to the UK :) It's such a great place with so many interesting things to do, so I thought it was definitely worth going there a second time.


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