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London Day 2: Exploring the City Center and the River Thames

The city of London then & now...

· London 2019

After waking up well rested and enjoying our first breakfast at our hotel, we headed off to the Thames River to take a cruise tour of London. The weather was gorgeous and the tour guide was definitely a highlight of the experience. We saw famous sights like the Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the London Eye.

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After our river cruise, we spent a few hours at the Tower of London, one of the most recognizable sites in the whole city. Students were given the opportunity to explore the history of the Tower at their own pace. From traversing the walls that protect the fortress to seeing the sites of medieval executions, we were able to see the whole of the site. One of the highlights of the experience was being able to see an exhibit featuring the Crown Jewels of the British Monarchy. Worth hundreds of millions of dollars, the Crown Jewels are synonymous with the history of the Monarchy and the United Kingdom. One special treat was watching the changing of the royal guards outside of the barracks of the Crown Jewels!

“Standing in the Tower of London and getting to see the famous sites, I learned so much about the history of the city and the mythicism that surrounds it.” - Grace Liang, ABF’19

From there, we went to lunch where students could choose from a variety of foods in the area. Among a series of small shops was an authentic fish and chips restaurant, a popular choice for students who wanted to taste the iconic dish at the center of the city. Following a filling meal, we took the Tube to the Museum of London which featured a chronological history of the city dating from the Paleolithic times to the modern era. Highlights included an amazing exhibit recreating the streets of London during the Victorian era.

From there, we walked through the city and had the opportunity to see the financial district of London, where the London Stock Exchange is housed. Directly across the Exchange was the magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral which was a great photo op and a moment to admire the amazing architecture of the city. Its juxtaposition with the skyscrapers that surrounded it was a reminder of both London’s history and its modern role. 

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From there, we walked across the Millennium Bridge, a sight made famous by its feature in Harry Potter. Across the bridge was the Tate Modern, where we could get a peek into London’s Modern art scene and see famous works from artists like Picasso. To wrap up the night, we ate at Wagamama’s, a restaurant that saw a unique blend of Japanese and British style food.

- IS & SP