Studying in Reading has the amazing perk of being just an (inexpensive) 30 minute train ride into Paddington Station, a fact that I seem to never shut up about. There is so much to see and do in London that it blows my mind and it pains me to know that I won’t be able to see it all before I fly home soon. Here’s just a small sample of some of my favorite places that I’ve visited so far.
I’ve already written about the National Gallery in my roundup of London museums, but it was so great that it deserves to be mentioned twice. I love art museums, and this one is by far my favorite in the UK. Located on Trafalgar Square in Westminster, it’s full of beautiful paintings from many different art periods, though it seems that most of the paintings are very classical. While the paintings on the walls are the main event, the architecture isn’t something to be overlooked. Each gallery is filled with elegant columns, marble stairways, and large skylights, all complementing the art inside.
On my first solo trip to London, it was a gorgeous and sunny 80° day, so of course I wanted to spend it outside. My first stop was Kew Gardens to visit what’s left of Kew Palace and the beautiful Victorian glasshouses. I know I’ve said it before, but I. love. plants. For only £7.50 with the student discount, I was able to wander through the gardens and glasshouses and tour King George III’s summer home. I really loved the Waterlily House, one of the smaller glasshouses that is entirely dedicated to a round waterlily pond; the Queen’s Gardens, Queen Charlotte’s garden located behind the Dutch House; and the Temperate House, the world’s largest Victorian glasshouse that reopened just days before my visit. I could have easily spent the whole day exploring and relaxing in the sun with a picnic and good book.
Probably my absolute favorite place in all of Europe, St. Dunstan-in-the-East is a little slice of magic in the middle of the busy City of London, very near the Tower of London. When I walked up the small flight of stairs and under the first arch into the gothic church’s courtyard, my breath was immediately taken away. Originally built in 1100 and then rebuilt in 1817, St. Dunstan-in-the-East was bombed during the Blitz in 1941. Now, all that remains are the church walls, which are overgrown with ivy. I spent a little while on a bench in the garden, taking photos and reading a book. It was very peaceful, despite a major road located just down the hill.
Of course, these aren’t all of the places in London that I love. I could spend all day talking about all of the places I’ve been in just in this one city. “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford,” a quote by Samuel Johnston, summarizes my feelings. Until next time, cheers!