Day 12: June 26, 2013. Piccadilly.

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Today we had the morning off to do whatever we wanted! After being up at what felt like the crack of dawn for the past, oh, 12 days or so, this was pretty nice. Honestly, I was tempted to sleep in till noon (4 am Arizona time!). But a few members in my group were planning to get lunch and see Buckingham Palace before we had to meet up with everyone for our meetings, so of course I had to join them.

We went on the Tube again, and this time I was able to get some pictures!

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Gina, Ashley, me, and A.J.

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We took one train to another line, got on another train for a few stops, and got off at Piccadilly Circus.

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I’m sorry, but can we just talk about that name for a second? Piccadilly. (PICK-a-dill-lee) Freaking Piccadilly.

I’m obsessed with the name. It’s the coolest name I’ve ever heard in my life. Piccadilly. Piccadilly. Piccadilly. IT’S SO AWESOME.

Okay, moving on.

We got lunch at Café Nero, a place that definitely needs to make an appearance in the U.S. It had great food! Ashley said the caramel latté she got there ruined just about every other caramel latté she’s ever had in the states. Like all places, the waitstaff asked us if we were dining in or taking away our food, and when we said we’d be eating there, they put our food on plates for us (it had been wrapped to go)! London really is great at reducing unnecessary trash!

We walked through the city for a bit and through a beautiful park on our way to Buckingham Palace. The streets were so fun, and I loved the park.

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And then, right in front of us, there it was. The beautiful Buckingham Palace. It was so regal, intimidating, and most definitely royal.

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We had to take our pictures quickly in order to make it back to our meeting spot on time, but it was absolutely amazing to be there. I kept thinking about Prince William and Kate’s royal wedding and loving the fact that I was standing on the grounds their carriage passed through. I know, I’m ridiculous. Here I was on historic ground, and their amazing royal precision was all I could think about! I imagined how cool it would be to be  driven around in a carriage and get to wave to crowds of people.

We met up with the rest of the group and went off to our meetings, one of which took place at the Science Museum. The building was incredible, and apparently on the last Wednesday of every month, the museum hosts a night where young adults come to drink, dance, and get their science knowledge on. The event is really popular; thousands of people come.

I broke off from the rest of the group since I’m a notorious slow walker and like to take my time looking at things. I checked out some amazing pieces of old technology for a while (pics to come tomorrow – I’m too lazy/tired to go through them now), but a combination of things made me leave the museum early. I was so tired, I didn’t really want to drink, and while I love the opportunity to hang out with people, being around enormous crowds tends to overwhelm me. I decided to brave the Tube by myself and go back to the dorms, and I ended up NOT getting lost! I rather liked getting to wander around and figure things out by myself.

There’s a little café right around the corner from our dorms, so I went and got a caramel latté (Ashley’s earlier made me want one) and some pistachios. And a newspaper. It was a perfect end of the day for me.

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I have to say, now that I’m adjusting to this whole new-country thing, I’m really enjoying London. I absolutely love this city. Everyone is polite, the city is clean and organized, plus there is a huge mesh of cultures here. I’ve made friends with two guys staying at these dorms who are Spanish and French, respectively, and I constantly hear people speaking in other languages out on the streets. It really is an experience.

A few observations about London that I’ve noticed, liked, and have to remember:

GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are outlawed in the U.K. Every time I eat here, I feel so comfortable knowing I’m not putting anything genetically modified into my body. There is so much healthy food available everywhere; the roles of organic and “regular” food are totally reversed. Furthermore, the serving sizes for everything are much, much smaller than they are in the U.S. My medium caramel latté must qualify as an extra small at a coffee shop in the states.

Dining in restaurants here is a new experience, too. In London, most people order food to “take away” at eat as opposed to sitting down and eating at the restaurants. Those that do stay stay for at least an hour to chat and take their time eating. It’s basically a social outing for the evening. In the states, waitstaff rush parties through restaurants as fast as they can; over here, waiters and waitresses take a long time delivering food and bills. I’ve figured out it’s not because they’re lazy; on the contrary, they do it because they are being excellent servers and letting their customers take their time. Plus, they don’t survive on tips because their minimum wage is very high. I think it’s a great change!

We only have two more days left of class, a weekend, and then it’s back to the U.S. I go. I’m so excited for Saturday and Sunday. I think I might dedicate an entire day to Westminster Abbey. :D Tomorrow we get to go to King’s Cross. I’m hoping we get to see the trolley they installed between platforms 9 and 10!

Oh, and Piccadilly. PICCADILLY. That is all.

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