We wrapped up our time in Germany on the 14th, and had a quick flight from Hamburg to London. We made it through border control without a hitch and everyone’s luggage made it. At Heathrow, we jumped on the Tube and had about an hour ride before we transferred to another subway for a shorter ride, then arrived just blocks away from our hostel. We stayed about a block away from St. Paul’s Cathedral, so it was quite noisy with the bells ringing every 15 minutes at all hours of the day and night. Nothing a pair of earplugs couldn’t fix!
We arrived at night and many of us got settled into our rooms and went to bed. This was our third hostel, and our first that didn’t have a shower and toilet in the room.
The following day, we were supposed to have an energy tour of London, which would’ve talked about the history and usage of energy in London and would’ve tied into our course nicely. However, it got cancelled because of cold and rain. Because of the cancellation, we had the entire day free to do activities of our choosing.
Our professors offered to take us on a tour of London, and most of the group decided to go for it. We got to see many of the tourist sites, such as Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Parliament, the London Eye, Millennium Bridge, Platform 9 3/4, and St. Paul’s Cathedral. While it rained most of the time we were walking around, it wasn’t pouring rain, and it was about 40°F, so it was nothing our midwestern selves couldn’t handle. Some people who opted not to go on the walking tour went to Abbey Road, Piccadilly Circus, and other sites around the city.
I wanted to go on the London Eye, but it was closed while we were there. It probably wouldn’t have been a very good view even if it was open, because it was so rainy and foggy. I’ll just have to make my way back to London another time 🙂
We had a paper due the following day, so some people spent a lot of the day working on that. I decided I would rather stay up a little bit later than usual and instead spent the day taking in London. Several of us did find a coffee shop near the hostel where we worked on our papers for an hour or so, but mostly just to have a nice warm drink after being outside all day.
Please enjoy these extremely tourist-y photos of me enjoying a rare day off from the course!
Later in the evening, some of us went for a walk along the Thames to go see the London Bridge and the Tower Bridge. We didn’t actually make it all the way to Tower Bridge, because it was a longer walk than we thought it would be, and it was getting late. If you Google “London Bridge,” the first few pictures are actually of the Tower Bridge…
We were exhausted when we got back to the hostel. After logging over 11 miles of walking, my legs and feet were ready to be done for the day. Thankfully I had great boots that always kept my feet warm and dry, and didn’t lead to any blisters the entire trip! (It’s harder than you’d think to find boots that are waterproof AND insulated and aren’t super heavy winter snow boots.)
The day after our free day, we had a briefing from the Department for Business, Energy, & Industrial Strategy at the Westminster Conference Centre, a huge government meeting center. During that briefing, we learned a bit about England’s environmental policies, nuclear power, fracking, offshore wind turbines, and carbon budgets. In the afternoon, we had a meeting with a woman from Green Alliance, a charity organization in the UK with a focus on improving environmental policy. It was interesting to get two pretty different perspectives, and to hear their predictions about the implications Brexit will have on environmental policy.
I would love to go back to London sometime to see more of the vibrant city! Maybe in the summertime though. The adventures continue!