|A view of Parliament and Big Ben|
And walk I certainly did during my week in London and Paris! Given that I had so little time in London especially, I really had to take advantage of it. I stayed with my cousin in London and left with her at 7:45 a.m. every day, catching the beginning of morning rush hour. Monday saw me walking from the Westminster Bridge to Parliament Square, up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square; then, when I realized the National Gallery didn't open until 10 o'clock, I trekked over to Mayfair, circled down to Buckingham Palace and St. James's Garden, walked up the Mall, past Trafalgar Square again, over to Fleet Street, across the Millennium Bridge to the South Bank, and finally met up with my other cousin for lunch at Borough Market. Even if you don't know exactly where all those places are located, it sounds impressive, doesn't it? Or insane; take your pick. I was even sore the next day!
|St. Paul's Cathedral|
- Courtauld Museum -- my aunt received her Master's from the Courtauld Institute and recommended the gallery. Let me pass on the rec to you! It's small with an incredible Impressionist collection and an exhibit on English and German landscapes. Definitely one of my favorites.
- National Gallery -- it really is all it's cracked up to be! And even though I didn't have a ticket to the van Gogh Sunflowers exhibit, I still caught a glimpse of the painting through an open doorway!
- National Portrait Gallery -- once I found the entrance (my unbelievably poor sense of direction never fails to amaze me), I walked through some rooms with portraits from the early 20th century, then headed upstairs to portraits from 1960 and on. Think Kate Middleton, Maggie Smith, Ian McKellen, Sir Paul McCartney, Queen Elizabeth, etc.
- Tate Modern -- not my favorite, seeing as I'm not a huge fan of modern art, but it was interesting nonetheless. I was with my cousin, and it's free, so really, what's not to like?
- St. Paul's Cathedral -- it's like a museum in its own right. By the time I made it after my long walk Monday morning, my feet were aching, and I couldn't will myself to climb up to the dome. But I did light a candle and visit the crypt, so all in all, a few hours well-spent!
|The Millennium Bridge|
|Tower Bridge in the distance|
Meanwhile, across the Channel lies Paris -- and my friend Kayla. I hadn't seen Kayla in EIGHT MONTHS, so you can only imagine our reunion. I have very vivid (and surprisingly accurate) memories of my last trip to Paris four years ago, when I visited my sister studying abroad, so I was able to navigate my way from Pont de Neuilly to Saint Michel to get a nutella crêpe on the evening of my arrival. There is really nothing like a nutella crêpe from Paris, especially from the Boulangerie with the blue awning on a side street off Place Saint Michel. (I couldn't find the entrance to the National Portrait Gallery, but the random crêpe place in the middle of Paris I had no problem with.)
|The view from Kayla's window|
|The blue-awning crêpe place|
|The view from Sacré Coeur|
|Kayla and me at Sacré Coeur|
|La Tour Eiffel|
In two days, Kayla's coming to visit me in Vienna. The tables will turn, and I can look all impressive as I flaunt my German skills and navigate us effortlessly through the city (just kidding). And, most importantly, I can introduce her to the joys of Sachertorte and Apfel Strudel, Schnitzel and Krapfen. Because, really, we're only in Europe for a couple more months, and there's still so much to eat before we leave.