Welcome to London, Mama!

September 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm 3 comments

Day 13 marked the final day of my course in London. Most of my classmates from Chicago were scheduled to return the following day, but I still had two weeks of travelling ahead of me. And none of that travelling would have been possible without my mom, my original road trip buddy.

I worked on some coursework in my hotel room until my mom texted me to tell me that she was on the Heathrow Connect train and would be at Paddington Station in half an hour. I’d booked her a hotel room just a few doors down from mine, so after I met her at Paddington, we brought her bags to the hotel. She wouldn’t be able to check in for a few hours, so we left the luggage in the office and headed out to see London! My mom had been to London once before, but it had been 30+ years, so we decided to hit most of the tourist sites.

Trafalgar Square
Up first was Trafalgar Square, where we took advantage of the delightful free admission to national museums and visited the National Gallery. Mom was jet lagged and I’d already been inside the National Gallery during my time in London, so we kept our visit short, focusing on the Impressionists and wandering through some of the Renaissance.

Countdown Clock
I was glad that we went back to Trafalgar Square, because I’d taken a photo of the Paralympic side of the London 2012 countdown clock a few days earlier, but not the Olympic side. Glad to have a redo! I love the Olympics, so I was happy to see the clock at just 394 days to go—not much more than a year!

From Trafalgar Square, we walked to Covent Garden Market, which was new to Mom. I think she liked it, but she’s not as crazy about cute shops as I am, so we didn’t spend a lot of time there. We were both getting hungry, so we easily decided on Pret for lunch. I’d discovered Pret à Manger in London in 2007, and introduced Mom to it during our trip to New York in 2008. Pret opened in Chicago last fall, so it’s less of a novelty for us now, but we both love it and Mom doesn’t get to eat there often, since its only Chicago locations are downtown. After a recharging over salads, I charted a course to St. Paul’s on my street map and we walked it. It was a bit longer than I thought it would be (I make this mistake more often than not), but not too bad. We decided not to go inside because of the steep admission fees and we’d both been in before, but enjoyed walking through the churchyard.

From there, we took the Tube to Westminster to see Westminster Abbey and Parliament. I even suggested walking across Westminster Bridge so that we could take photos.

Mom and me
Mom and me on Westminster Bridge

Westminster Abbey
Since we didn’t go in St. Paul’s, we thought about going in Westminster Abbey, but the lines were long and the admission was just as steep, so again, we decided to just walk around it.

20th Century Martyrs
I made sure to take Mom around to the back entrance, where 20th century martyrs are memorialized above the door. I think that this is one of the nicest modern additions I’ve seen to a historic piece of architecture. I don’t recognize all of the sculptures, but Martin Luther King, Jr, is in the middle.

After Westminster, Mom was really wanting a nap and I had things to read for my last class that evening, so we headed back to Paddington. I dropped her off at her hotel for a nap and worked on my workshop comments, then took some photos from the balcony.

Sussex Gardens
View of Sussex Gardens, a lovely tree-lined street near Paddington Station that is mostly home to hotels.

View looking east from my balcony—the houses on this street are all very similar and many have been refurbished, so the effect is striking.

Our final class was to be held at The Bridge House, a delightful pub and theatre in Little Venice. Although Little Venice was just a 10-minute walk from Paddington, most of our group hadn’t known to wander that way. I was surprised to see a small canal with wide walkways on either side, boathouses, and cute restaurants. It definitely seemed more like Venice than London, although I’ve heard that Venice smells a bit foul, and I didn’t get that from Little Venice (thankfully).

Little Venice
I snapped a few photos on the walk to Little Venice. My mom came with us, because another mom was there to keep her company. Kelsey, one of the students in the program at London Met, is from Ohio and her mom had just flown over to visit. So our moms sat together and chatted while the rest of us split into groups for workshop. The last session of my group was great—I really enjoyed reading my group’s work and I got some of the best feedback I’ve ever had in a workshop. I also had a chance to talk to both my program director and the London professor about my work, and though both gave me excellent and helpful comments. And if that wasn’t a great enough way to end a terrific day, we walked out of the pub and saw this:

Little Venice Sunset
The colours were so spectacular that I just couldn’t resist a vivid HDR treatment! What a great way to end the London leg of my trip! I wish that I could have stayed and hung out with the rest of my classmates, but I had to pack for an early train to Paris!


Entry filed under: England, Europe, London, Photos, United Kingdom.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Christina @ Food.Fitness.Fun.  |  September 28, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    Great photos of Trafalgar Square!

  • 2. Justine  |  September 29, 2011 at 2:06 am

    Oh! Those red telephone booths. These photos are pushing me to visit soon!!!

  • 3. Anne Coffman  |  September 30, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Well–I’m glad that you finally got to the “mom” part of the trip! Honestly, though, the less-than-flattering photo of a jet-lagged me isn’t so great…..

    It’s funny that there were two moms at your last class, so we were able to keep each other company. We had a very nice chat, actually, and found that we had quite a bit in common.

    Looking forward to the rest of the story……Mom


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A serial road tripper chronicles her adventures.


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