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Studying Abroad: A Weekend in London


Trafalgar Square in London
Trafalgar Square in London

So far, one of my favorite things about living in the U.K. is how easy it is to travel around. My suitemate, E, and I planned a last-minute trip back to London for the weekend after our day trip on Thursday. The train ride from Brighton to London is about 2 hours. Neither of us had much experience taking the train long distances, but we were able to get a round-trip ticket for about £25 and catch the train to Victoria Station in London. Once there, we picked up Oyster Cards, which allowed us to take the tube to our hostel. This was my first time staying in a hostel, so I wasn't sure what to expect, and I was grateful to be traveling with someone more experienced.

Palmers Lodge Hillspring Hostel
Palmers Lodge Hillspring Hostel

The hostel was about 30 minutes north of central London and only a 5-minute walk from the nearest underground station. Once at the hostel, we checked into a cozy, all-female room and took a minute to rest. Taking the tube was a lot like taking the metro in D.C. and was fairly easy to navigate once you knew where you were going and which line to take.


After getting settled in our room, I decided to the tube into Chelsea in search of the Saatchi Gallery, a museum I heard about online. another big difference between the UK and America is how late stores and other venues stay open. By the time I reached the museum it was already 5 pm and the museum closed at 5:30. Although I was happy to explore the area, I was a little frustrated at the fact that the museum closed so early on a Friday evening. I walked around Chelsea for a few hours, getting a feel for the area and stopping in a few stores.


Chelsea seemed to be a more upscale part of London filled with designer boutiques and high-end stores like Calvin Klein and Kate Spade and some others I had never heard of. I wandered in and out of stores and admired beautiful cafés for a while before heading back into central London to have dinner with a friend.

Fountain in Trafalgar Square, London
Fountain in Trafalgar Square, London

In my experience, London has felt pretty safe. Even at night, I was able to easily find my way back to the hostel by walking to the nearest underground station and taking the tube.


On Saturday morning, E and I woke up around 8 am to ensure we were able to get the free continental breakfast that the hostel offered. Again, I wasn't sure what to expect as this was my first hostel experience, but I was a little surprised when the "continental breakfast" only consisted of croissants, toast, and cereal, along with a few drinks like juice and coffee. Luckily, I had already planned to have brunch with my cousin, so after a cup of tea and a few slices of toast, I was satisfied. If I had a full day of activities planned and was relying on the hostel's free breakfast as my only source, I might have been more upset by the lack of options.


After the quick breakfast at the hostel, I headed into central London to meet my cousin at a restaurant called Garfunkle's, which had a huge selection of brunch foods. I decided on a ham, mushroom, and cheese omelet with potatoes, and it was delicious. After saying goodbye to my cousin, I walked over to Trafalgar Square, where street artists were performing. I ended up walking into the National Gallery and admiring the art for a few hours. The museum had beautiful architecture and it featured a lot of religious art and classic pieces like Sunflowers by Van Gough.

Canal in Little Venice, London
Canal in Little Venice, London

I left Trafalgar Square and took the tube to Little Venice, a small town with a canal running through it resembling Venice, Italy. I wandered into a bookstore and spent an hour or two browsing their selection before going to meet up with E for a late lunch. After lunch at Nando's Peri-Peri, we took the tube to Leicester Square where E was able to get discounted tickets to a musical from a TKTS stand. Later in the night, I met up with another friend, taking the tube to a small club in Soho, London, which is known for its nightlife. We enjoyed a few hours of live music at a club called Jazz After Dark, before I headed back to the hostel.


We decided to skip breakfast on Sunday morning and instead checked out of the hostel by 10 a.m. We took a bus ride to a quiet town called Notting Hill, where we grabbed breakfast from a small sandwich place called Eggslut. The place was extremely busy and there was even a 'bouncer' telling people to line up outside. Eventually, we found seating downstairs and I had the tastiest bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich ever!


After our quick breakfast, we took the bus to Victoria Station and caught the train back to Brighton. Overall, I had a great time in London, the city was full of activity and there were a million things to do. Learning how easy it is to get from Brighton to London and understanding how to better navigate around the city means my next trip will be much more enjoyable.


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