Cheers, Mate! - My Family Travels

"Cheers, mate!" That's exactly how our wonderful guide, Chris Robson, greeted my school group as we finally arrived in London.  It was February break of this past year and it was raining like there was no tomorrow. Although many people would be put off by the rain, we loved it! It was just the "British" atmosphere we craved. As we boarded the bus and began driving the "Oooohs!" and "Ahhhhs!" were rolling in at a steady pace as everyone noticed the beautiful green grass, stereotypical red phone booths and bus', and the city life of London in general. When we arrived at the hotel, The Grosvenor located on Park Lane in the heart of London, we literally dropped our bags and set out on our day. We first visited a small square for shopping and lunch. Many visited the quaint tea shop and enjoyed croissant panini in the outdoor eating area. After this we moved on to the British Museum where we had the privilege to view the real Rosetta Stone. Soon we traveled back to the hotel for a quiet dinner in a separate room and a much needed night's sleep after the long flight. We were awoken early the next morning by polite phone calls from the lobby. In about 20 minutes we all trampled downstairs right into our first British breakfast experience. The spread provided by the hotel was amazing; hot eggs and sausages, hash browns, pastries, fruits, and all kinds of cereals and juice. Although there were some questionable items, we mostly tried everything. Everyone was extremely chatty and had overcome the original awkwardness that always come with a school trip. We headed out on a brief bus sightseeing tour and made various stops to see the most worthy sights of London. That afternoon we spent time in Trafalgar Square walking the stone streets and window shopping. This is when the girls and I had our first Pret encounter. We had been seeing Pret-A-Mangers, a fresh-made sandwich chain restaurant, literally everywhere and we finally were presented with the chance to dine at one! Much different from what we have here in New York, we were ecstatic to experience the lovely Pret. We spent the rest of the day in the National Gallery and the Portrait Museum. Some of the girls and I even got to climb up on the lions outside of the museums! That night we had the treat of having dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe followed by an amazing performance of Wicked. Morning three, we went to Windsor Castle and were free to roam the village and the castle itself. Although the royal family wasn't present, we saw their dogs being walked on the lawn. Scheduled next was a bike tour through Hyde Park, which was a really enjoyable way to get to know the land. After the bike tour we changed and were let loose in London to get dinner on our own, like real Londoners! We woke up the next morning to a free day which my group chose to go to Abbey Lane, Platform 9 and 3/4 at King's Cross Station, and shop at Topshop. The next few days were filled with history! We visited Anne Hathaway's Cottage, The Globe Theatre, Shakespeare's birthplace, Oxford, and Stratford-upon-Avon. We also attended a 4 hour performance of King Lear by the Royal Shakespeare Company after attending a Shakespeare workshop in the Globe Theatre as well as a performance of We Will Rock You, the hit quirky musical based on the music of Queen. On our last traveling day in England we visited Bath and the actual Roman Baths. We spent the morning and afternoon in the adorable town and had the most delicious lattes. After lunch we took the bus to Salisbury to see the Salisbury Cathedral where we met the Cathedral's resident cat, Wolfie. We then journeyed on to dinner at a nearby hotel and finally made our way back to the Grosvenor. As it was our last night of the trip, we all headed down to the train station under the hotel and roamed around there until it closed. We then took the party back up to my room and had a mini dance party! We were all depressed to leave the next day and said our tearful goodbyes to our lovely hosts. This trip was the most incredible thing I have ever done in my life. It honestly changed me forever. I feel like I'm a more cultured and interesting person because I had these experiences. The trip also opened new friendships and helped rekindle some old ones. Although our rain soaked British days are gone, we all have the memories, souvenirs, and inside jokes to keep it alive in our hearts and minds.

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