An American in London

By, Ellen O’Hare

During March break, I had the pleasure of visiting London with my family. It was my first time there, and, having studied it in Class V History, I was very excited for the trip.

First of all, I would like to dispel a common myth about the United Kingdom: the food there is delicious. There are lots of pastry shops and bakeries everywhere, and the iconic dish of scones with jam and tea is worthy of its famed reputation. My family and I observed that there was at least café on every block; you can  never go hungry in London! The city is an interesting juxtaposition of centuries-old churches and towers versus futuristic architecture, such as the “Gherkin,” a glass building shaped like a giant pickle. Contrary to the classic idea of a foggy, rainy London, we had warm sunshine almost every day! This beautiful weather allowed for lots of time walking outside.

Our first stop was the Tower of London, which was built in the late 1000s. It has a rather  bloody history, considering it housed British royals (known for execution-happy tendencies) for a long period of time. It was used from its construction in the 1100s up until 1952, when it was used only as a prison. Next on our agenda was the Imperial War Museum of London. The most prominent exhibit there was the World War I exhibit, which I was extremely prepared for by the World War I unit in my history class. The exhibits were extensive and easy to understand. After the Imperial War Museum, we visited Winston Churchill’s underground bunker, which was used during World War II. Everything in the display was left exactly as it was when Churchill and his associates left the bunker for the last time, with a detailed audio tour guiding visitors through the bunker. Like many other British icons, Mr. Churchill has a monument dedicated to him in Westminster Abbey, one of two churches in central London. Westminster Abbey is absolutely gigantic, with the highest tower reaching 225 feet. It hosted Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, Princess Diana’s funeral, and Prince William’s wedding. Numerous English royals and famous figures alike are laid to rest in this ornate church. There, you can see the tombs of King George Handel, Charles Darwin, and more. However, Westminster Abbey has to share its glow with St. Paul’s Cathedral. Both structures are stunning.

In addition to London’s rich history, the city also has many fun tourist attractions. One example is Harrod’s, a luxury department store. The store is five floors, with each one dedicated to a different category or two, such as “Shoe Heaven,” the women’s shoe department, which boasts brands like Prada and Louboutin. Other features include an ice cream parlor, luxury clothing and housewares departments, and a gift shop, described by my brother as “the world’s largest collection of bags.” The items sold at  Harrod’s are very expensive, but the window-shopping was fantastic! Speaking of  shopping, you can visit Fortnum & Mason’s, a sort of deluxe grocery store. Again, this was a multi-floor establishment with each floor assigned  a specific theme. For example, the ground floor was dedicated to sweets and candies, the basement level to seafood, and so on . Fortnum & Mason’s also had a café serving a three-course lunch. Unfortunately, we were not able to stop there, but the menu looked delicious. To get a good view of all of these attractions, you can take a ride on the London Eye, which is right on the Thames River. One ride takes thirty minutes and gives a spectacular view of quintessential London sights, such as Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Tower Bridge, and more. In summary, London is a wonderful city  and I learned much  and had a lot of fun while there. I enjoyed the trip greatly and would recommend a visit to any Winsor student, given London’s rich and interesting history. Cheerio!