In case you missed it, I'm currently traveling through Europe, exploring hidden corners and must-see spots in Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the UK. I've been posting daily updates from my adventures on Facebook and Twitter, but in case you missed some of those, I've also decided to put together a weekly round-up to update anyone who's interested on what I've been up to for the past 7-ish days.
Here we go with Week 6! (With the days being cumulative.)
After discovering a quick and easy shuttle service exists from Lake Bled to the airport, I ended up having about 3 hours to kill on Day 36 in Bled. And lucky me, the sun was shining! I went to the grocery store, bought some lunch, and sat by the lake to eat and feed the swans. Then I headed to the airport to catch my EasyJet flight from Ljubljana to London!! There I made my way to Christina‘s apartment, where she and Bodo and I ordered pizza and watched the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics. It was amazing to be in the city for this event — we could hear the fireworks from where we were sitting and even see the sky illuminated!
What could have been my first day of sightseeing in London instead turned into an impromptu blogger meet-up. We (me, Christina, Bodo, Dylan, Nicole, and Matt) had Indian food in Covent Garden, and then some of us visited a few country houses to get into the Olympic spirit. Kiwi House was fun (I nearly decided to support New Zealand instead of my own country…), and USA House was a big let down — it was just a big Team USA shop, and they would only let you in if you were American! Lame, America. LAME. Afterwards, I set out on my own to the Westminster tube stop to see some sights along the Thames as the sun went down. I walked all the way from Parliament to the Tower Bridge, and was rewarded by a light show and the lowering of the Rings under the bridge!
This was the day I had perhaps been anticipating the most on this whole trip — the day I went to the Olympics! A coupe months ago, I managed to score a ticket for a qualifying round of women's gymnastics — my absolute favorite sport. I woke up super early to hop on the tube to North Greenwich Arena, and got to see a full 3 hours of Olympic gymnastics live! I sadly didn't get to see any of the “big” teams compete (I didn't get to cheer on my USA girls, unfortunately), but I did get to see the teams from Italy, Australia and Brazil compete, along with some very talented team-less gymnasts. When it was over, I didn't want to leave. I wanted to stay in that arena for the next week and just watch gymnastics forever. I had to leave, though, and went to the Swiss House to meet Christina and Bodo, who then graciously gave me a quick walking tour of central London in the rain.
I met up with Nicole again on Day 39 for a Golden Tours trip out to Windsor Castle, Bath, and Stonehenge. The whole day turned out to be a lovely surprise. Windsor Castle was stunning, and far surpassed my expectations. The Roman Baths in Bath, too, blew me away — there was so much to see/learn about! And Stonehenge… well it's Stonehenge! It was great to finally see it in person.
My plan for the morning of Day 40 had been to use my London Pass to cram in some sightseeing. I failed pretty miserably, though. I went to the Tower of London and took a fantastic free tour, then spent another hour exploring (and seeing the Crown Jewels) on my own. Then I scrambled over to Westminster Abbey. I figured I could easily breeze through in half an hour — but I was so wrong! The Abbey is HUGE; a guided tour takes about 90 minutes, and there are even audio guides on offer. I spent an hour inside and still didn't see it all. The reason I didn't have time to see more was because I had a very important date at 2 p.m. — a date with the Making of Harry Potter at the WB studios in Leavesden. This is going to become a Mecca for HP fans, I think. It's a museum experience unlike any other, because here you can see the actual sets, props, costumes, etc. that were used in the popular film franchise. I went with Viator and spent a full 3 hours in the exhibit. I could have easily spent 3 more.
It was out of London again on Day 41, this time heading to Oxford, Stratford-Upon-Avon, and Warwick Castle. Oxford was just as beautiful as I'd hoped it'd be, and I enjoyed wistfully imagining myself eating dinner in Christ Church College's Great Hall (inspiration for Hogwarts' Great Hall). Stratford-Upon-Avon was very touristy, but still very pretty. And seeing Shakespeare's birthplace was definitely cool. Warwick Castle was a bit of a surprise — it's part castle and part medieval amusement park. Great for kids. I went through the state rooms, walked around the grounds, and watched a jousting show in which they hilariously mocked the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. Once I got back to London, I rounded out my time there with a geek-tastic visit to King's Cross Station.
I bid farewell to London and hopped on a train up to Edinburgh on Day 42. After checking into Haggis Hostels, I hit the streets with my Edinburgh Pass to try and get some sightseeing in. My arrival coincided with the beginning of various festivals, though, including the famous Fringe Festival, and the Royal Military Tattoo festival. This meant that the Royal Mile was PACKED with street performers and people handing out fliers for various shows. I nearly forgot all about sightseeing. I slowly made my way to the Camera Obscura (a fun museum full of optical illusions and a giant camera obscure), grabbed some dinner, and then joined in on an Auld Reekie tour of haunted Edinburgh. On this tour, we went down into the creepy vaults under the city and heard plenty of ghost stories… I wouldn't want to go down there by myself, that's for sure!
The Week in Numbers
Each week, I'll try to give you an idea of how I'm traveling, and what things generally cost.
- Number of flights: 1
- Number of trains: 1
- Number of Tube rides: Many! I love how easy it is to travel around London with an Oyster card.
- Number of mini buses: 0
- Number of times it's rained: Nearly every day; it's the UK!
- Number of times I've nearly passed out from the heat: ZERO!
- The price of things in the UK: Expensive. That's all I will say.
*Note: From here on out, many of the things I'm doing are either sponsored or already included. I will share prices when I can, though.
So there you have Week 6 of my European adventure! Come back next week for Week 7's round-up.
If there's anything more you want to know about my weeks, tell me in the comments!
If you missed previous weeks…