Paris 2017

Paris: Day 1

We took the Eurostar from London and arrived in Paris 2.5 hours later. After checking into our hotel, we walked down Champs-Elysées towards the Arc de Triomphe. 


We window shopped along the street. Some of the stores even had a security line to enter! We checked out the flagship Louis Vuitton store, which apparently is one of the biggest luxury stores in the world! After wandering down the street, we reached Arc de Triomphe. 


We climbed up all the stairs (there are too many of them) and reached the top. The view from the top is absolutely beautiful and definitely worth the climb. 

London 2017

London: Day 6

Our sixth and last day in London began with an early morning visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Unlike Westminster Abbey which is Gothic architecture, St. Paul’s Cathedral is built with Baroque architecture. It’s interior is much more decorated than Westminster Abbey. With many seats available and a free audio guide included in the price of admission, it’s easy to spend a few hours in St. Paul’s admiring its beauty.

Afterwards, we headed back to our hotel before going to afternoon tea to celebrate my dad’s birthday. We headed off to Fortnum and Mason’s, where we dined on sandwiches, pastries, and scones.

One nice thing about Fortnum and Mason’s is that any plate can be refilled if you request it! After afternoon tea, we wandered through Fortnum and Mason’s where one can buy tea or different sets of teapots.

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After tea, we went shopping at Selfridges. While we didn’t buy much, it was still fun to IMG_20170529_201616window shop. In Canada (at least Toronto), department stores aren’t as big as the ones in London so it was quite enjoyable to wander around so many floors of stores. I also don’t think I’ve seen so many luxury brands clustered in one space. We ended up purchasing a scarf from Hermes. We headed to the 5th floor of Selfridges to get our Tax Return forms (make sure you bring your passport!) and there was even a nice lounge for people to rest. We then headed off to Marks and Spencer before calling it the night.

Next stop: Paris!

London 2017

London- Day 5

Our 5th day in London started off with a walking tour. It was the Royal Walking Tour which featured getting to see the Changing of the Guard. Unfortunately, there was a marathon going on that day and the Changing of the Guard was cancelled. To make up for this, our tour guide combined the Royal Walking Tour with some of her other walking tours. We strolled through St. James’s Park, which is apparently one of the most beautiful Royal Parks and also passed by Buckingham Palace.

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We also got to see many of the stores that the Royal family used (they all have the Coat of Arms displayed somewhere) like Fortnum and Mason’s and Floris. Our tour guide was full of knowledge and we learned a lot from her.

IMG_20170528_112405-01 Throughout London, you might see these poles with what looks like the Chanel logo. These poles mark which part of the city you’re in- a W for Westminster and a C for the City. Apparently, when a duke was having these poles placed in London, he had been having a 10-year affair with Coco Chanel. He was in love with her and thus, had her initials placed on the poles. However, when he proposed to her, Coco Chanel rejected him. By then, it was too late to have her initials removed. Quite an interesting and cool story!

 

 

After the walk, we went back to explore Buckingham Palace as well as some of the other Royal Gardens. We ended up walking through Hyde Park to Kensington Gardens. All the parks in London are gorgeous. I absolutely fell in love with Kensington Gardens and it’s probably one of my favourite places in London that I visited.

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London- Day 4

We started the day off bright and early by heading to Victoria Coach Station to join our tour group to Cambridge and Oxford. Since we booked our hotels with Costco, we got a Golden Tours voucher of $200 per person. My mom wanted to go to Cambridge (to see memorial stone of Chinese poet Xu Zhimo) and I wanted to go to Oxford (because Harry Potter).

The day started off rainy and despite the forecast for rain in London, Oxford, and Cambridge, it only rained for a brief 5 minutes before we left London. Our first stop was Cambridge. Upon arriving there, we got a brief tour of the town before our tour guide dropped us off at King’s College Chapel. The inside of the chapel is beautiful with high stained glass windows. Apparently, it was inspired by Sainte Chapelle!

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Unfortunately, it was exam season so we weren’t allowed to explore the rest of the college grounds.

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We also had the opportunity to see Trinity College, which has the largest amount of Nobel Prize winners from Cambridge. In front of it, they also have an apple tree that was grown from a branch of the apple tree that helped Newton discover gravity.

Despite the college grounds being closed to visitors, the town itself was beautiful to explore. Despite being filled with tourists, it was quite enjoyable to walk around. The pub where Watson and Crick discovered the double helix DNA is here so make sure to check it out if you have the time. Unfortunately, we had a limited two hours here and all too soon we had to leave and go to Oxford. Lunch was provided by Golden Tours and was waiting for us when we got back on the coach.

At Oxford, we visited Christchurch College, where a large number of British prime ministers have graduated from. Like Cambridge, exams were going on so we weren’t allowed to explore college grounds. However, we still got to see the interior, like the Great Hall, where many Harry Potter dining hall scenes were filled (Fun Fact: University of Toronto’s Victoria College dining hall is based off the Christchurch one).

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One of the stained glass windows is the Lewis Carroll window and depicts characters from Alice in Wonderland.

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We explored the rest of Oxford, which like Cambridge, was quite busy. We walked along the riverside and saw cows and also got to see the pub, The Eagle and Child, where CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien used to meet up.

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Oxford and Cambridge was really fun and I enjoyed both towns immensely. Both towns are worth a visit, but I would highly recommend that you do the trip yourself and just explore one of either Oxford and Cambridge. I definitely felt that I didn’t get to experience either place thoroughly. I hope to return one day!

London 2017

London- Day 3

We started our day off bright and early by heading to Westminster Abbey. We arrived there at 8:30 am and people had already started lining up (it opens at 9:30)! By 9:00 am, there was already a huge line. Make sure you arrive early, especially if you don’t have tickets yet. Since we bought our tickets online, we were given priority entry.

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When you go in, you can get a free audio guide and map before continuing with your visit. The visit is one way so walk slowly and make sure you take in everything! While there are many tombs and memorials are on the wall, many are also on the ground so make sure you keep an eye out for them. With many people walking around, it can be hard to see some of the ones on the ground. I nearly missed Newton’s tomb until someone beside me freaked out when they saw it. Unfortunately, photos aren’t allowed in Westminster Abbey, but not being able to take out your camera or phone forces you to enjoy your surroundings and take in all the detail.

We left Westminster Abbey and went to Westminster Bridge to take photos of Big Ben and the London Eye. Cross over the bridge and head down the stairs for an even better view of Big Ben and Parliament. There are many souvenir stands here with pretty good prices. We picked up 5 or 6 postcards for £1.

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London 2017

London- Day 2

Sorry for such a late post! I’ve been so tired from traveling that every day after I got back to the hotel, I would just lie in bed.

We started off the day by heading off to the Tower of London bright and early. Upon arriving, we headed to the Crown Jewels first. By the time we got there, it was already relatively crowded there, but no lines (which I heard can get up to 2 hours long midday during peak season)! The Crown Jewels were beautiful, but unfortunately, no photos were allowed. After, we explored a bit on our own before joining one of the Beefeater tours. Try and catch an early one if you can as the later groups can get quite large.

The exit of the Tower is along the Thames River and offers a perfect view of the Tower Bridge. We took a few photos before heading to Tower Pier to catch a cruise down to Embankment Pier.

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