New Year – New Friends?

I’m finally back! I never planned to once again take a break and especially not for over three month. However this year started rather soon and with it a lot of new things came along.
I met new friends, I finished my school and I started to do a bit more sightseeing. But first things first: my start in the new year.

Even though I went home to Germany for Christmas, I decided to celebrate New Years Eve in London. Therefore I had a flight booked to go back to London on 30th December 2016.
When I arrived at the Airport and went to the Check-In desk, I already noticed that there were quite a few people – definitely more than the usual 70 people or so that fit in the small Luxair airplanes to London City Airport. When it was finally my turn I learned why: Because of too much fog in London they had to shut down the London City Airport for the day. Luckily they didn’t cancelled my flight, but rather diverted it to another airport: Stansted Airport.

At the security check I met Trude, an old friend of my mum, who was travelling with the same plane to London to celebrate New Years Eve there. As we haven’t seen each other in a year or two, we used the chance and catched up while we were waiting at the gate for boarding.
After waiting for a long time, because the flight was delayed, I was finally inside the plane at 11.20am. When we started at 11.30am (German Time) we were already 50 minutes behind time. Then pilot told us that we were flying to Luton Airport instead of Stansted. The Flight itself was quite good, but it took ages until we were finally able to land, so it was already 11.50am (British Time).

At Luton Airport Trude and I got together again and tried to find a way to Central London. I was told that we have to organise the transport ourselves and can send in the receipt and ticket to the airline to get our money back.
But at the airport someone said that there will be an organised transport back to Central London, which got us quite confused. Through this confusion and the constant running around at the airport to solve the problem, we met H., a guy who was on the same plane and facing the same problems.

In the end we just bought a ticket for the ThamesLink train and took the bus from the Airport to the train station. When we arrived at the train station we were running around once again, until we found the right platform. On our way there we picked up Adrian and Daniel, who also were passengers on our flight. From there on we stayed together until the end of our journey to central London.

When we arrived at King’s Cross/St. Pancras Station around 1.50pm, we had to split up as everyone stayed in a different part of London. After I topped up my Oyster and helped H. to buy a ticket, I could finally move on and took the Tube at 2.20pm to Green Park. As there were construction works on my part of the Tube I had to get off there and finish my journey with the Bus 14. At 3.20pm I finally arrived back home after a long day and a long journey.

After this hassle I was so tired that I first lied down and relaxed for a bit, before I unpacked a few important things. On our way to Central London we all exchanged our phone numbers and organised a whatsapp group so we can organise meetings. Daniel, Adrian and I used this the same day to organise a meeting at the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, as we all wanted to do something more useful that day than just travelling.

Around 7.20pm we met near a Bavarian village in Winter Wonderland and then walked around to explore the area. Because it was really cold we only took a short break and sat down for a drink, but soon had to move again. Nearby was an open fire, where we tried to warm up, which didn’t really worked out. Therefore we decided to go back home shortly before 10pm already.

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Walking around Winter Wonderland

Back home I went directly to bed and enjoyed to sleep in the next morning. When I was finally awake I unpacked my luggage, did some laundry and just relaxed. As I never really had plans for New Years Eve, I was quite happy when Trude invited me for dinner. We arranged to meet each other around 7pm at Trafalgar Square. From there we went to find some place to eat and ended up at Il Padrino close to Leicester Square.

After dinner we went back to Trafalgar Square, as we decided to spent the beginning of the new year there. Even though it was only 10pm when we found our spot, there were already a lot of people trying to find the best spot. Just 30 minutes later the boys came too and we all waited together. At 11pm we celebrated the German New Year with hugs and best wishes, especially to our loved ones back home in Germany.

The closer the new year, all the more people arrived and it got really crowded. At one point it was nearly impossible to move. At 12am we once again wished everyone a Happy New Year and then enjoyed the Fireworks. We soon had to realise that we indeed hadn’t found the best spot, as the fireworks were fired behind a big building. Therefore we were only able to see the high ones and only half of it, but at least better than nothing. After just 15 minutes the fireworks were already finished and we decided to find our way to Piccadilly Circus in hope to find a place to celebrate a bit more.

At Piccadilly Circus we took a few pictures, but soon decided that there is not much to do and tried to find our way home. As we weren’t the only ones who wanted to go home, a lot of the Stations were closed or with special queueing systems prepared for the big crowds heading for the stations. The Piccadilly Circus Station was one of the closed ones, so we walked to Leicester Square where we had to que up until we were finally inside.
Around 2am we were finally back home and could go back to sleep.

For New Year it’s the same as for Christmas: every family has their own Traditions. For my family this means Raclette for dinner on New Years Eve and “Dinner for One” and “Ein Herz und eine Seele – Silvesterpunsch” (One Heart and one Soul – New Year’s Punch) on TV. But we also have a tradition for the New Year: “The New Year’s Concert” by the Vienna Philharmonic. Obviously I didn’t have Raclette for dinner, but at least I was able to follow the other traditions and therefore spent the morning of 1st January 2017 watching the New Year’s Concert.

Later that day I got ready to meet the others a last time before they had to go back home. At 1.30pm we met at Charing Cross to watch the London New Year’s Parade. Sadly we had misjudged the time and the Parade was already halfway through when we arrived. Because we had missed half of it anyway and it started to rain really badly, we quickly decided to change our plans and went to Covent Garden instead.

Completely drenched we arrived at Covent Garden and tried to dry a bit while walking around the Piazza. Around 2.30pm we decided to find a place to eat as we were all getting quite hungry. Our search brought us to Leicester Square where we stopped at a pub called “Moon Under Water”. Even though the pub was really crowded we were able to get a table and eat some really good burgers. I definitely liked the pub, as the food was really good and it’s not at all expensive. The only downside is that it’s always really crowded and it takes a lot of luck to find a free table.
When we were finished the boys and I decided to go back home, while Trude went on her way again exploring this big city.

The next morning started rather early for me, because my host family arrived back home at 9.15am. After a nice breakfast I helped a bit by occupying the children so the parents could unload the car. Later that day the family left to meet some friends and I decided to stroll around Parsons Green and Fulham for a bit. But I forgot that 2nd January was a substitute holiday for the 1st, as the New Year’s day was a Sunday this year. Therefore most of the shops were closed and I soon went back home again.
After helping my host parents to bath the boys and bring them to bed I went to bed too. This was the last day of my holidays. The next morning I had to start my normal work again, which was quite odd after two weeks off.

When I decided to go back to London for the New Year I never imagined I would celebrate it with people I met randomly on my way back to London. But that is fate and I have to say that it is quite an interesting story to tell. And who knows how 2017 would’ve started if we wouldn’t have met…?

I hope you guys had not only a good start, but also some nice month in the year 2017.
A BELATED HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Love,
Vicky!! Xx

24th December: Merry Christmas everyone! – UPDATED!

Merry Christmas!

I wish you all the best for Christmas!
Enjoy your celebrations, just like I do. Therefore I won’t write much more for today. Instead I’ll write the 24th post of 24 Days to Christmas after the Holidays.

We all should enjoy the time with our families and not think about any blogs these days.

See you after Christmas.
Love,
Vicky! Xx

UPDATE:

I’m sorry! I know I’ve said that I’ll update and write more about my Christmas after Christmas, but I never intended to take so long. At least a lot has been going on in the new year. I hope you’re ready for a few blog posts to bring you up to date!
First of all I’m writing about my Christmas, as this is the 24th post of my advent calendar.

Christmas is the one holiday that is not only different from country to country, but also from family to family.
Originally I planned to stay in England to celebrate an english christmas for once, but then I had to change my plans and went home shortly before Christmas.
I was really happy to be back home for once and not only for a short weekend, but for 10 days instead.

While the main Christmas party won’t start until the 25th in England, in Germany the main party starts already on the 24th. My family has some traditions for the holidays that I was quite happy that I’m not going to miss them this year either.
One of those traditions is to attend the Christmas Mass of our local church. When we come back my mum prepares the last bits of our dinner and we all eat together. Our Christmas dinner is another tradition. As long as I can remember we have had Fondue as our christmas dinner and I just love it!

After dinner and when everything is cleaned up, we make sure that all the presents are underneath the Christmas Tree and then get together in the living room.
While we take turns to unpack the presents to give everyone the time and attention for their presents, we have a André Rieu Christmas Concert on the TV to listen to.

The official part of our Christmas celebrations is over as soon as all the presents are opened. The next part of our christmas is the relaxing part, when we watch some Christmas classics together. No matter if “Weihnachten bei den Hoppenstedts” (Christmas with the Hoppenstedts) by Loriot or the Christmas episode (“Alle Jahre wieder”) of the TV show “Familie Heinz Becker” (Family Heinz Becker).

Sometimes we would go downstairs to my grandparents flat to wish them a merry christmas before we go to bed. Except for this year, as they were already in bed when we went downstairs.

As every family has their own traditions it’s important to have one day when everyone comes together. My family chose the 25th for a big get together at my grandparents.
Usually we first start with a small reception in the living room as soon as my uncle and his family are there. This year’s Christmas meal was a three-course menu, consisting of a nice chestnut soup for starters, duck breasts and red cabbage with other sides as the main course and lastly a nice dessert.

When everyone is finished we move back to the living room to slowly start the handing out of presents to the other family members that weren’t around the evening before. When every present is opened and we all had a go at the christmas cookies another day of our christmas celebrations is over.

The next day was more relaxing as we don’t have anything planned for the 26th. I always had the feeling that Christmas is already over but you just get another day off to relax and get back your energy after the exhausting days.
My sister and I would sometimes spent the day at my father’s, but this year we went to my mum’s best friend to have a nice get together with her and her daughters.
That day we finally cut the cake I baked especially for this years christmas.

Even though we followed all our Christmas Traditions this year, I thought it would be nice to change some things and brought some British Christmas Crackers back home with me. Back in London I noticed them as you were able to buy them in every single shop in so many different layouts and fillings. Therefore I just bought a simple pack of Christmas Crackers at Sainsbury’s and brought them back home with me.

In a way that’s how every years Christmas looks like with my family. The only thing that changes are the presents and the amount of arguments we have. Luckily we didn’t had any this year!

Let me know in the comments what traditions your family or country has!

Love,
Vicky! Xx

20th December: 23 632 steps

Welcome back to post 20 of my 24 Days to Christmas! Only four days left, can you believe it? Todays post is an addition to yesterdays post.
As I said yesterday, I went on Sunday (20th November) and Monday to central London.
The decision to go on Monday was partly because my new host mother asked me if I could come and visit them before I would move in the week after.So I got on my way from Oakwood to Parsons Green to be at their home for 12pm. At 2.15pm I left again and decided to walk to Kensington.

I only had enough money to pay for one more Tube Journey, so I decided walk the 3.8km to Kensington. In South Kensington are three of London’s most famous museums: The Natural History Museum, The Science Museum and The Victoria and Albert Museum. Luckily nearly every museum has a free entry policy and you can just go and visit them.
I decided I would go to the Victoria & Albert Museum, as it has my name in it.

At 3pm I arrived at the Museum and started my tour through it.
The Victoria and Albert Museum, in short V&A, is the world’s largest Museum of decorative Arts & Design. It holds a collection of over 4.5 million objects, which cover 2000 years of art from all over the world.
The V&A was founded in 1852, a year after the Great Exhibition. The same year it was moved to its present location and was named South Kensington Museum.
In 1899 Queen Victoria set the foundation stone for the grand façade and the main entrance. It was really important to her and her husband, as they cherished the idea to make art available to all, the original reason why the museum was established.
Therefore they also changed the name to Victoria and Albert Museum.

The museum is really big and I haven’t had a plan where to go so I just went any way and would see where I end up. After 10 minutes I stumbled across the for me most mesmerising part of the museum: a plaster cast of Michelangelo’s David!
This cast from 1556, is one of many replicas and was a gift to the Queen Victoria from the Grand Duke Leopold II of Tuscany in 1857. While the original David was made from one block of marble arch, this one was made up of several hundred pieces and is reinforced with metal rods. Michelangelo’s David was built between 1501 to 1504 and is placed in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, since 1873.

This cast is placed in the Cast Court on the ground level of the V&A. From there I went through the sections of European Sculptures from 1300-1600 and Medieval & Renaissance 1350-1600.
Next was the Britain from 1500-1760 exhibiton on Level 2. I mostly just walked through the exhibitions and just took pictures when something really interested me. It’s really nice that you not only get free entry to the museum, but you’re also allowed to take pictures everywhere. Except for the Jewellery exhibition on Level 3. The William & Judith Bollinger Gallery holds all kinds of jewellery, even some tiaras.

The Theatre & Performance exhibition is on the same level as the Jewellery one. For me it was the most interesting exhibition and I really liked learning something about all kinds of Theatres and seeing some of the costumes from musicals or musicians.

The last Exhibition I went to see, was the Silver exhibition, also on Level 3. As the Museum closes at 5.30pm the Whiteley Galleries were already closed when I came there, but a nice lady let me in for a quick look around.

When I had to leave I haven’t seen nearly half of the exhibitions and I would have to come back a few more times. But for the day I had to do something else.
As it was 5.30pm and the peak time of the underground had already started, I had to stay in central London until the peak time was over.
So I started google maps and went on my way to Piccadilly Circus. While I was walking I spotted Harrods and just decided to give it a go.

Harrods once opened as a small grocery store and is nowadays one of the largest department stores in the world. When Henry Charles Harrod established the store in 1849, he had only two employees. Hard to believe how far the store had come from then.
Harrods has a total of 330 departments on 7 floors and under their motto ‘Omnia, Omnibus, Ubique’ (Everyone, Everything, Everywhere) they promise they can sell anything you want.
Next to all the glorious things you can buy there, Harrods also impresses with its extravagant decorations and designs, like the Egyptian Hall.

Harrods is so big that you can actually get lost in there. Every time I’m in there I’m lost and don’t know where to go to find the things I’m looking for, or more dramatically my way back out. Last time the cashier asked me if I would need help to go somewhere else, but couldn’t tell me the way outside herself.
After I visited the Christmas department and one of the many clothes departments, I found my way back out at 6.20pm.

As it was still too early for the tube, I decided to walk again. My destination was still Piccadilly Circus, but as I came across Hyde Park I changed my plans once again.
From the 18th November 2016 till the 2nd January 2017 the Winter Wonderland, a festive theme park, is in Hyde Park. This year they’re celebrating their 10 year anniversary, as the first Wonderland started in 2007. Next to the main attractions it holds London’s largest German-style Christmas Market and over 100 spectacular festive rides and attractions.
The entry to the Wonderland is free, but you would have to buy tickets for the main attractions in advance. They consists of an ice rink, the magical (ice-) kingdom, nutcracker on ice, bar ice, Zippos Christmas circus, cirque Berserk, the scooty Christmas show and the giant observation wheel.
To celebrate the anniversary they even have the Munich Looping as an attraction. The Munich Looping is the world’s largest transportable roller coaster, which is also a part of Munich’s Oktoberfest.

I just walked through the Winter Wonderland to see what it’s about and to take some quick pictures. Hopefully I can go back there before it’s over.
After just 15 minutes I was on the other side and left the Theme Park. As it was finally after 7pm and the peak time was over I decided to take the Tube at Marble Arch Station and go home. At 8.15pm I was finally at home, after I’ve walked 23 632 steps and a total of 16.1km.

Even though I was quite tired after this long day, I was also happy that I managed to see so much! Especially in the V&A. It is so much better to visit the museums during the week, as they’re free of tourists.

Love,
Vicky! Xx

19th December: Teletubbies, Barbie and Co.

On my first weekend back in London, I finally wanted to go back to the City Center. But my tight budget wouldn’t let me go there too often. So I had to plan the outings carefully, as I wanted to do as much as possible so it was worth the money. Since my host family was gone from Thursday to Tuesday, I choose Sunday and Monday to go to Central London.

Around 9.30am on Sunday, 20th November I went to the Tube in order for me to arrive at Piccadilly Circus at 10.15am. Shortly before I had to get off the Tube, some musicians entered and played ‘Hit the Road Jack!’ for us. Normally I’ve seen things like this just on YouTube and seeing something like this live, just showed me once more that I’m back in the wonderful city called London.

From Piccadilly Circus I walked to Regents Street, where the big Hamleys Christmas Toy Parade would take part for the second time.
To ensure that everyone is safe, Regents street had turned traffic free for the whole day. The Parade would start at 10.30am so I went down Regents street until I found a good spot.
Originally I planned to see the parade with my friends, but they arrived later and then it was already so crowded that we just decide to meet up afterwards.
Around 10.50am the parade finally arrived at my location and I could enjoy being thrown back in time as I saw some of my Childhood TV characters come to life.

But apart from some classics like Barbie, Teletubbies and Elmo, there were a few new ones I’m a bit too old for. The once I liked the most were Characters of the Sylvanian Families. When I was younger some Friends of my Grandparents would give them playhouses of this brand for their grandchildren. I always loved these dolls houses and had to stop my grandfather earlier this year when he wanted to throw them away.

Sadly the parade was over after just 30 minutes, but that’s still long enough when you think about how much preparation they had to put into this.
Since the parade was over I tried to meet the girls. As it was still too crowded and everyone tried to leave there was no way to get through. At 11.50am we finally got together and went to a diner called Five Guys, where they enjoyed their lunch. After another 30 minutes we decided to walk to Oxford Street to visit the Disney Store.

When we were finished there it was already 2pm and Kathi had to head home. Amelie, Marieke and I then walked to Leicester Square, as they wanted to see the new Lego Store. Around 2.40pm we arrived there to see that we would have to queue up for at least an hour to get in. So we then changed our minds and after Farina joined us we decided to visit the M&M Store, which is also at Leicester Square, instead.

While the others stayed inside until 3.30pm, I went back outside a bit earlier as I was already finished. The store is quite big and you can buy any kind of merchandise, but also every flavour of M&M that exists.
However the best thing are the life-sized M&M statues. Every colour has their own statue in their own area. As that’s not enough there is a M&M version of the Beatles Abbey Road pedestrian crossing.

After the M&M store we went to see the Christmas Market on Leicester Square. It is a nice and quite small market and you can tell that it’s supposed to be like a typical german Christmas market. If you didn’t thought it at first, you would definitely think so after you saw the food stall.
They had Germany’s finest Bratwurst and Krakauer. And they actually advertised it like this on their menu board themselves.
But I have to say that, even though they have some similar things to the Christmas market at home, you could just tell that it’s not an original german market.

Because we were already in the area, we went to Chinatown. The main street of Chinatown is the Gerrard Street and it’s in the heart of London’s Chinese Community. When the first chinese people came in the 18th century, they already settled in this area.
Several Street Signs in Chinatown are actually written in Mandarin, the chinese language.
As we were visiting one Chinese shop after another we made our way through Chinatown to slowly go to Covent Garden. After we left Chinatown behind we walked through the Streets of London until we came across a Waterstones Bookshop.

While the others were still looking around I was ready to go again, but the next stop would be Covent Garden for them to have dinner. As I didn’t had the money to go and have dinner with them, so I decided to say goodbye and go my own way. At 5pm I was on my own again and first went to go see Trafalgar Square again. I was too early for the Christmas lights, so after a short picture I turned around again and walked back to Piccadilly Circus. I even went back to Regents Street, but as it was already quite late, they had started to take down all the tents and stalls.
At 6pm I finally got on my way home to have dinner and a relaxed evening.

I know it’s a rather short post, but I’ve been on tour all day, as I’m now finally back in Germany for the Holidays!
See you tomorrow,
Vicky! Xx

18th December: Little Germany

Sorry guys that I’m always posting so late the last few days, but as it’s getting closer to Christmas I’m quite busy and always on the way.
Todays post is about the weekend when the Christmas season really started. On Saturday the 26th November, a day before the first advent, I went to the Christmas Market of the German School here in London.

One of my family’s Christmas tradition is that we would go to the Christmas Market of the Waldorf Schule Trier. As it was on the same Saturday and I wasn’t able to go there, I went to the english alternative.
Even though the market was at the German School and not the London Steiner School (the Waldorf School in London), it was just like the one at home.

The German School London or in german Deutsche Schule London and in short DSL, was established in 1971 and is now one of the 140 German Schools abroad. The school has been founded by the Federal Republic of Germany and the local association to promote the German culture and language in foreign countries. Since 2010 the school has a bilingual system so the students can choose between the qualifications of the German Abitur and the International Baccalaureate.

Since the school is in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, I had to go on a long journey from Oakwood in North London to South-West London. As the market would start at 1pm, I got on my way around 11.45am. First I took the Piccadilly Line from Oakwood to Earl’s Court where I then changed to the District Line to Richmond, where I arrived around 1.20pm. For the last part of the journey I had to take the Bus 65 to the School, where I finally arrived at 1.45pm.

When I first entered the School I was a bit overwhelmed. It’s just weird to find a place in London where everybody around you speaks German. I often use german to get away from some flyer distributer in London, but that only works because it’s a foreign language here. Of course you then feel weird when suddenly everyone around you speaks german and the official language becomes a foreign language. But it was also quite refreshing to be able to go around and just talk german again.

While I was exploring the school grounds I stopped for a nice freshly made Nutella Crêpe. Walking around I also went upstairs to the first floor, but the corridors were locked as the whole thing took place on the ground floor and outside. Since it got later and I always have a bratwurst at the christmas market at home, I had one there too.

I got to know about the school through one of my ex teachers, as she once was a teacher at this school too. When I was looking at all the different booths, I even started a conversation with a mother. The funny thing is that she actually knows this teacher, because she was the class teacher of her son. We talked for a bit and she told me about the school and the life as a German in England. It was really interesting and informative.

At 4pm the Market was over and I got on my way back. As my friends were in central London I didn’t went all the way back to Oakwood just yet, but to Piccadilly Circus instead. Around 5pm I arrived there and then started a cat and mouse game with them. They would send me their location and shortly before I arrived there, they had already moved on and were at a new location. On Oxford Street I finally caught up with them. As most of the group had to leave it was only Amelie, her friend from Germany and I left.

After a bit of time Amelie had to bring her friend to her meeting point, as she had to travel back to germany that night. I stayed on Oxford Street and went shopping for a while. Around 7.30pm Amelie was back and we went to Caffé Nero to sit down and chat a bit. She was invited to join some of her friends for a birthday party later that night and I was allowed to tag along.

When we met the first one of the girls, we went shopping for a bit and soon met the birthday girl and her sister. Together we went looking for a nice pub to celebrate a bit. Around 11.15pm Amelie, Selina and I went on our way home and the Birthday girl and her sister stayed a bit longer. I would have liked to stay too, but I had a long journey again and the Piccadilly Line wasn’t a Night Tube yet. At 12.15am I was finally at home and a few minutes later in bed.

It has been a long day, but I’m happy that I went all the way to the German School! It was nice being there and to discover this German community. During the time there you could easily forget that you’re in England and not in Germany.

Hopefully I’ll be able to visit them again,
Vicky! Xx

 

 

 

17th December: Surprise! Surprise!

There is nothing better than going back for a weekend to see your family once again.
So I started to plan a short weekend trip back home. After I’ve been away for nearly 4 1/2 months already, it was about time. You may wonder why I didn’t just go home over christmas, but rather just for a short weekend before. That’s because I never planned to go back home for Christmas. My plans just recently changed, as I don’t have a place to go over Christmas.

With Friday 9th December the day I’ve waited so impatiently for had finally arrived. The best thing about the plan was that just a few people knew about them and my mother and sister weren’t a part of them. Therefore I was even more excited and hoped that everything will work out and it will be a big surprise.

At 6.50pm my flight was leaving at Stansted Airport. Since the Airport is up in the northern outskirts of London and I’m living in South-West London by now, I had to go on a long journey through London. Luckily I only had to work in the morning and my host mum could give me the afternoon off, as her mum was there to visit. At 3.30pm I left the house and started at Parsons Green Tube Station. After I changed to the Victoria Line at Victoria Station, I arrived at the Stansted Express Station at Tottenham Hale Station just an hour later.

Just a few minutes later the Stansted Express arrived an I started the 40 minutes drive to Stansted Airport. At the beginning the Train was so full there was no place to sit, but after the first stopover a few people left and I could sit down.
When I arrived at the airport I went to the Back-Drop since I brought my suitcase with me to carry all the Christmas presents I’ve bought.

After I went through the Security Check I still had a bit time to spare and went to buy myself a dinner. The most expensive dinner in my life!
When it was 6pm I got on my way to the Gate which felt like it’s at the complete other end of the airport. At 6.25pm I was already in the airplane and we could depart right on time. I’m happy that everything went so smoothly.

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Boarding the Plane…

But that soon changed when we arrived at Luxembourg Airport at 9.05pm (GER- Time). After 15 long minutes I finally could leave the airplane. It took so long, because I was seated in the last row and had to wait until everyone else had left the airplane. Entering the airport I had to queue up behind everyone else who just arrived from London, since we had to go through border control. As Luxembourg Airport is a small airport they only have three counter and I had to wait for another 20 minutes.

At 9.45pm I finally could leave the airport and meet Max in the parking lot, who would bring me home.
Max had told my mum that he would come around later that night, because he had to bring her something. So when we got there we left my suitcase in the car to avoid unnecessary sounds who would give us away. Max went first and I waited at the lower level until he was inside the flat. After he announced a surprise I also entered the flat to be greeted with wide eyes full of surprise!

My mum and sister were so shocked, they needed a few seconds to comprehend what was going on and after that there was no stopping anymore. My sister wouldn’t stop crying and wouldn’t let go of my either. After a few minutes everything quieted down a bit and I could finally explain everything.

Max soon left again to give us a bit of time together and to let me settle in. Later that night, when everyone was in bed, my mum went back into my room. She wanted to check if I’m still there, because she was afraid that everything was just a dream.

The next day we all had breakfast together and got ready to go to the city. But before we could leave I went to my grandparents flat (the one beneath our flat) to say hello to them too. I’ve never seen my grandmother this speechless. She also had problems coming to term with the fact that I’m back in Trier for a weekend.

Around 11.30am we finally went to the city. When we arrived in the city with the Park and Ride Service, we first went to see the Christmas Market. Normally I don’t really like going over the christmas market, since it’s always too crowded and there are the same booths every year. But this year it was different.
Christmas Markets aren’t that popular in England and therefore you can’t really see one. So I wanted to go and see the one in Trier, because otherwise I would miss out on something that is just a Christmas tradition for me.

From the Christmas Market I dragged my family to the Porta Nigra where the Trier Christmas Tree is located and convinced them to take a nice family picture. I wanted to have a more recent picture for my room in London.

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My lovely family reunited 🙂

Afterwards we went to the shopping center where I visited a good friend of mine. Because she had to work we just had time for a quick chat.
Outside of the store I then met my best friend. I was really looking forward to seeing her again as I’ve missed her so much! Together we went to the store were I had worked two Christmases ago and I bought a nice little Birthday present for my host mum.

Around 3.30pm I had to say goodbye to Wanda and we went home. Because I was invited to a christmas party that night I had to get ready soon after we came home.
I hoped to surprise someone else that night at the christmas party, but when I arrived at 6pm he already knew that I was coming. I still would like to know how he knew I was coming, but he just won’t tell me.

Since we had such a good time, we stayed until 1.30am, when we were asked to leave. As the others got hungry again they wanted to go to a kebab house. I then tagged along as my neighbour was with them and I rather walk home with him later, than all on my own.
I made the right decision, because he decided to call us a taxi to get home.
At 2.30am I was finally at home and could go to sleep. Tomorrow is going to be a long day again.

On Sunday morning I slept a bit longer and started the day slowly.
Since it was my last day with my family and my mum already bought the Christmas Tree, I took the chance and we all decorated the tree together.
When we finished my grandparents came to visit us and my grandfather and I sorted out my flight tickets so I could come home over Christmas.

As I’ve mentioned above I originally didn’t plan on coming home, but rather stay in England to celebrate an English Christmas. But my host family is going to be in the Netherlands for Christmas and our family friends have no room, as all of their children are coming home.
Since I just got the news on Friday before I left, I talked with my family about my options. My grandfather then directly offered to fly me home, which was the best solution.

Around 5pm I went to my neighbour and played a bit with his daughters that I’d missed so much. After an hour I had to say goodbye and go back home, because dinner was ready and I still needed to pack my suitcase.
After a nice Raclette for dinner my mum helped me to pack everything – actually she packed everything and I just told her what has to go in the suitcase…
Thank you Mummy! ☺️
At 7.30pm Max came to get time, as he would be the one to bring me back to the airport.

An hour later I was already at the Gate waiting for boarding to start. Even though everything went smoothly and the pilot announced that we may leave earlier, we started at the original time at 9.50pm. This flight was really good, especially because I had a seat in the first row next to the window and therefore freedom of leg movement and a nice view!

It seems like the flight went by in a flash, as we arrived at 9.50pm (UK – Time) in London, instead of the estimated arrival time at 10.15pm. This time I was one of the first to leave the plane and the border control was also quicker, since it’s all technical there and they have so many counters. At 10.10pm I had my suitcase and 5 minutes later I was in the bus.
Sadly the Stansted Express wasn’t operating that Sunday and I had to take the Rail Replacement Bus instead. That would mean that the journey home will take even longer. But once again luck was on my side and we arrived at Liverpool Street Station at 11.15pm already.

From there I started the last leg of my Journey home. I took the Central Line to Notting Hill Gate, where I then got the last District Line of the day. I don’t want to think about what I would’ve done if I would’ve been too late. Everything worked out perfectly and I arrived at 12.15pm at home.
But I wasn’t finished yet. I had to carry my suitcase all the way up to the 2nd floor. Because that alone would have been too easy, I had to walk past the children and the parents without waking them up, as they were already asleep.
At 12.30pm I was finally in bed and could sleep, as I had to get up at 6.45am the next morning.

I want to thank Max for making this weekend possible for me! Not only did he drove me home and back to the airport, but he actually paid for everything!
Even though I’m soon back in Trier, this weekend was really nice and I’m grateful that you gave me the opportunity to do this.
And the biggest thank you for helping me to surprise my family like this!
I owe you! 💙

Love,
Vicky! Xx

14th December: On the move again

When you’ve read the ‘On the move’- Post, you should know what todays post is about.
The last post finished off, when I arrived in Lincolnshire. This time I’m going to tell you all about my journey back and all the moving around in London until I finally settled.

After I arrived in Lincolnshire on the 22nd October and spent 3 weeks there, it was time for me to leave again. On the 14th November I packed all my things and went on my trip back to London. Around 12.50pm it was time to say goodbye to Andrews family so he could bring me to the bus stop, where we arrived at 1.15pm, 15 minutes too early.

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Travelling back to London with “light” luggage

At 1.30pm it was time to say goodbye to Andrew too and get on the bus. It was weird to say goodbye to him, after I’ve lived with his family for such a long time, but it was time for me to go back to my life as an Au Pair.
Around 2.55pm we arrived at the East Midlands Parkway Station. Since I got a MegaBus+ ticket back to London, I once again had to take Bus and Train, but this time the other way around.

Because the bus wasn’t supposed to arrive until 3.20pm, we had to wait for quite a while and take the Train at 3.45pm. After waiting I was finally on the last leg of the journey – or not. When I arrived at the East Midlands Train Station in St. Pancras Station at 5.20pm, I had to walk to King’s Cross Station to take the Piccadilly Line up to Oakwood. On my way to the Tube Station I couldn’t help but take a picture from the place outside of the station. I’m finally back in London!

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Finally back in busy London!

Sadly I arrived during the busiest hours in London and not only was the Tube too full, but I also had to pay the more expensive price for the tube, as I was travelling during the peak time. Luckily there was a nice guy in the tube who helped me with my suitcase and helped me get on the tube.

At the Oakwood Tube Station my temporary host parents came to collect me. As I couldn’t stay with my new host family before the 29th November, I looked for a ‘gap family’ for the time being. Luckily I was able to find a family who decided to host me until I could move to my new family. After they picked me up at 6pm, they brought me home and showed me a few things in the house and I got to know their little girl, I was helping to look after.

The time with the gap family was quite good, but I was happy that my new family was a different one, as I can’t imagine living there for a whole year. Nonetheless I’m grateful that they took me in and even paid me for looking after their daughter.

However on the 29th November it was time for me to say goodbye to them too and get on my way to my hopefully last stop. After I finished packing everything, my host father brought me to the Tube Station and at 10.01am I could start the 1 hour journey to my new family. First I had to take the Piccadilly line from Oakwood to Earl’s Court (47 minutes) and then change to the District Line to Wimbledon. Because I  was loaded with different bags and my suitcase, I had to take two different lifts to get to the right platform.

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On the way

The second part of the Journey was just a 5 minute ride and I then had to walk to my new family’s house, where I arrived at 11.15am. After my host mother showed me around, she gave me some time to get settled. Since I didn’t have all my stuff, I was soon finished and talked to her about the plans for the week so I know when I could visit Amelie to get all my things.

Just two days later, on the 1st December, I was able to go and visit Amelie. When I left here at 11am, I took my empty suitcase with me, so I could pack it later with a few of my things. At 12.05pm I arrived at the Woodside Park Tube Station and then had to walk another 15 minutes to Amelie’s place. When I was finally there I started to unpack the big box I’d stored there and repacked everything in my and Amelie’s suitcase that she lent me. Thank god I was able to get everything inside the two suitcases and my little backpack.

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My two best Buddys

At 1.45pm I was ready to go and Amelie walked with me to the Tube Station so everyone just had to carry one suitcase, but it still took us 30 minutes instead of the normal 15 minutes. When we arrived we had to say goodbye and I had to get on the Tube on my own with the two suitcases. The Journey home was quite interesting and exhausting. Both Embankment Station and my final Tube Station don’t have any lifts so I had to carry the suitcases from one platform to another and when I arrived at Parson’s Green Station I had to carry them down to the Stations exit. Luckily a man helped me at Embankment Station to get from one platform to another, but at Parson’s Green no one stopped in their rush to help me.

Fortunately my host mum was able to collect me from the Tube Station so I didn’t had to walk home, but sadly I still had to carry them up to my room, which wasn’t all too easy.
After I unpacked everything the following days, I had to bring Amelie her suitcase back and collect my box I left with her. So I once again got on my way back to North Finchley. On Wednesday, 7th December, I arrived at Woodside Park Station around 12.50pm. Since Amelie had language school that day, I waited for her at the Tube Station and we then walked together to her place. We quickly swapped suitcase for box and I went back to the Station again.

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Look who’s sitting next to me!

If you saw a girl walking over Oxford Street with a big empty box under her arm, chances are that you saw me. Because I had to buy one more Christmas present, I stopped at Tottenham Court Road and went on Oxford Street to buy everything I need and since I walked by a Lloyds bank, I went inside to change my accounts address. No matter where I went, people looked weirdly at me and especially the cashiers asked questions or just commented my nice box. But when I said that I’m moving in London they all just had a look of sympathy on their face.

Around 3pm I was finally finished and could take the Tube home.
That was all my moving around and hopefully I won’t have to do the whole ordeal once more. It has been quite exhausting and I’m happy that I now got all my things back.

The weird girl walking around London with suitcases and empty boxes! Xx

13th December: Off the beaten track…

It’s been a month since I’ve been in Lincolnshire and so far I only told you about Lincoln and York, but these weren’t the only places they took me to see.
As they live in a small village in Lincolnshire, they’re surrounded by small villages and towns. And since they’re not as big as Lincoln or York, I just write about different locations in one post.

It started on Monday, 24th October, when Julie and Ruth brought me to Brigg, a small Market Town in North Lincolnshire, just a few minutes drive away. They wanted to show me the Steel Rooms, which is a Café, art Gallery and gift shop all in one. Since we were only there at 4.30pm the café was already closing and we went to Costa instead.
The town is so small that nearly every shop closes around 5pm.
Luckily the Costa Coffee Shop was opened way longer so we could sit and enjoy a coffee and a cake or cupcake.

 

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My nice Gingerbread Cupcake

After the coffee we went back home. But a week later I was back again. Because Hannah tidied her room at home, she decided to give away loads of things she doesn’t need anymore. On Wednesday morning, 2nd November, we went to the Oxfam Charity shops to drop the things off. I especially liked the Oxfam Bookshop, where I then bought a nice book.
When we finished dropping things off, we had to get some things we needed.
I even bought two birthday cards for a very good friend of mine and my cousin, which I then posted a few days later.
Around lunchtime, after we had a nice coffee break in the Steel Rooms, we went back home and that were the two times I went to Brigg already. Since it’s so small there is not that much to do.

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Two birthday cards – Happy Birthday!

On the 4th November Julie went with Hannah and me to Gainsborough. The town is located in the West Lindsey district of Lincolnshire and the next town to where they live.
Julie is a very good artist who just got into an exhibition a few days before and since Hannah couldn’t go and see the exhibition, she took us to her studio to show us the drawings that were going to be exhibited.

After admiring her work we went to Marshall’s Yard, which is a shopping complex of 32 Stores, a café and a health club in a 19th century ironworks setting.
The boiler manufacturer Marshall, Sons & Co. has been founded by William Marshall in 1848 and the manufacturing base was then located in Gainsborough. After the manufacture closed in the 1980s, they rebuild it into the shopping center, which then opened during Easter 2007. An old steam crane from the engineering works still reminds of that time and builds a nice entrance to the heritage.

In Marshall’s Yard we did what it was built for: shopping. But nothing special, just one or two birthday presents for some of their extended family and groceries and then drove back home.

Since it was Bonfire Night on the 5th November, Andrew took me to see a Bonfire and a Firework display in Scawby on Sunday, 6th November.
Bonfire Night, or also known as Guy Fawkes Night or Guy Fawkes Day is an annual commemoration of the failure of the Gunpowder Plot in Great Britain.
On the 5th November 1605 the Gunpowder Plot placed explosives beneath the House of Lords. Guy Fawkes was a member of the plot and has been arrested while guarding the explosives.
Since King James I survived the people celebrated by lighting bonfires around London. This tradition has changed and by the 20th century Guy Fawkes Day became a social commemoration, which lacks much of its original focus. Especially because nowadays it’s just large organised events, centred on a bonfire and extravagant firework displays.
Such as the Bonfire Night celebration we went to.

With the 11th November my last weekend in the countryside had started. And what better way to start it than with a nice walk with Julie and their dog Alfie trough the fields. It has been getting colder and colder with every day, but I never thought I would be without a family for so long, so I didn’t pack my winter coat. Therefore I had to freeze a little bit.
That night we went to a pub for the Pizza night. The pub has a pizza night from time to time and that night was one time.

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The perfect weather for a nice walk in the fields

After another short weekend with Andrews family, I then left on Monday to go back to the big City. I really enjoyed the time in the countryside, since it was like a nice vacation from all the trouble and busyness London is about. Even though I missed out on a few events in London, I needed the time there to get recharged and be ready for the big city again.

So, if you get the chance to spend a bit of time in the countryside, then just enjoy it!
Love,
Vicky! Xx

12th December: WHIP-MA-WHOP-MA-GATE

The WHIP-MA-WHOP-MA-GATE is the smallest street in York. It is just a length of raised pavement between St Crux church and a small road junction and intersects The Pavement and The Stonebow.

The origin of the name is quite unclear. Apparently it derives from a phrase “Whitnourwhatnourgate” which would mean “What a Street!”.
When I went to York on Wednesday, 26th October for the first time, I even got to see the street. At first I just took a picture of the street sign because of its name, but later on I found out the real meaning of this sign.

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WHIP-MA-WHOP-MA-GATE or “Whitnourwhatnourgate”, Yorks smallest street

Since the youngest of Andrews daughters studies at the University of York, we used the opportunity and went to visit her.
Because I’ve never been there before, they walked me through the York City Centre. Due to time limitations I wasn’t able to go inside some sights, but at least I’ve been there and were able to see the York Minster and a bit of the old historic city.

York is just like Lincoln a very historic city. The walled city is the county town of Yorkshire and is located in the north of the county.
In 71 AD it’s been found by the Romans as Eboracum. It became and still is the capital of the northern ecclesiastical province of the Church of England.

The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York is the largest Minster in Northern Europe. Not only is it the seat of the archbishop of York, but also the second highest office of the Church of England and the mother Church Diocese of York.
The name ‘Minster’ was attributed to describe the typical architecture of the Anglo-Saxon period and is still used as honorific title now.

From the minster we walked through some of the shopping streets of York. Some of the streets were proof of how old the city is, as the streets were narrow and the houses were old-looking and sometimes really small.

Funniest thing was a bible hung in the doorway of a shop. But most of all I enjoyed walking through the local Käthe Wohlfahrt shop, since it was a piece of home in the foreign country. It reminded me so much of the Christmas market at home. Even though it was quite funny to see what they think is typical german, it was so different from what it is really like. But the shop was really sweet and you definitely got a Christmassy feeling in the small shop with all its nooks and crannies full of Christmas decorations and ornaments.

Walking through the streets we passed another historic part of York: Bettys Café Tea Rooms. After the founder Frederick Belmont went on RMS Queen Mary’s maiden voyage in 1936, he was inspired by the ships layout and employed the designers to turn a dilapidated furniture store into an elegant Café. A few years later the Café on St Helen’s Square became even more famous. After World War II broke out ‘Bettys Bar’ in the basement of the Café became the favourite haunt of 1000s of airmen stationed around York, the ‘Bomber Boys’.
Inside the Café is ‘Bettys Mirror’ on display to tribute the airmen, who engraved their signatures with a diamond pen.

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Bettys Café Tea Rooms on St Helen’s Square in York

After we’ve seen most of the city Center we tried to find a place to eat, since Ruth had to be back at university quite early to visit a concert there.
When we found a place to eat at 6pm we all had a nice and big burger before we brought Ruth back and went on our way home.

Just a week later, on the 2nd Novemeber, we went back to York again. This time Hannah and Julie’s mum came with us, since Ruth had a university performance we went to see.
The music department of the University of York has regularly performances. One of these is the yearly practical project.

This years project was “A portrait of the Artist” to celebrate the centenary of the publication of James Joyce’s novel ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’.
With texts and songs of his work it celebrates Joyce’s life and also reflects the political tensions of the period of the Easter Rising of 1916.

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The shows flyer

The show started at 7.30pm at the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall. Since it was the opening night, they even had a live stream on YouTube, where you can still watch the show:

The show was a mixture of music and theatre and was very interesting to see. But I have to admit that for me it was quite hard to understand, since the acoustic wasn’t always the best and some students didn’t spoke clear enough or even tried to imitate the Irish accent.

Even though I didn’t understand everything, I still got what it was about and my trip to Ireland earlier this year helped a lot to understand things, as I had a basic knowledge of the Irish history. And I still was able to see what a great performance the music department put on and I really enjoyed to see it.

When the show was over, we waited for Ruth to come out and then went for a quick drink to a local pub to celebrate her debut on the university stage and to have a nice ending to a nice evening.
Since we left quite late that day to travel to York, I didn’t get to see much of York that time around. But that was no problem at all, since I’ve already been to York the week before.

When I’ve got the time I’ll definitely have to travel to York again and then take a good look inside the York Minster and maybe go and see some other of the historic places.

See you then, York!
Vicky! Xx

11th December: Lasting Memories – II

Welcome back to the second post of my crazy weekend. After I told you about the parts with Max in yesterdays post, I will tell you today about my time with Mäthi and Anne.
Since Max had an accident on Friday, I couldn’t meet Mäthi and Anne on Friday.

On Saturday, 24th September I went to see Max, but the visiting hours wouldn’t start until 2pm so I made plans with Mäthi and Anne instead.
Around 11.15am I took the Tube to London Bridge Station and walked from there to the Tower of London.

My way lead me over the London Bridge which is quite young, despite the fact that on this place the first ever bridge over the Thames was once built. This was replaced and later pulled down by a Danish prince in a battle in 1014. This historic event is kept in memory by the children rhyme ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’. In medieval times the fifth and most famous London Bridge was built. It lasted for 600 years and is the longest inhabited Bridge in Europe. In 1841 this Bridge had to be replaced and Rennie’s London Bridge was built. This Bridge was sold to an American in 1968 and rebuilt in Arizona, USA. On 17th March 1973 Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the 7th Bridge, which is still there today.

As I arrived at the Tower of London at 11.45am, I had to wait for a few minutes and took a look around the Tower. The complex of 21 Towers was built by William the Conqueror in 1078 as the new palace. Since 1100 it was used as a prison and is now a museum where the priceless Crown Jewels are displayed.

When Mäthi, Anne and I finally met I was so excited and first hugged them for a minute! After being separated for nearly 2 months, I was more than happy to finally have my best friend back!
We then went on our way to the Tower Bridge. Since they had a double booking on their tickets for the Tower Bridge they had a spare one which I could use. We first started in the North Tower and were brought up by a lift. From there we came to the Walkways where you walk from one Tower to the other. The Walkways are 42m above the river and 60m long. In 1910 the Walkways were closed to be reopened in 1982 for the Tower Bridge exhibition which you can still see.

From up there you have a wonderful view over London.While we walked down the western Walkway we could see 30 St. Mary Axe, which is also called The Gherkin, the Cheese Grater and the Walkie Talkie on the North side of the Thames. On the South side of the Thames we were able to spot the Shard, the tallest building in Western Europe, and the London City Hall, which is directly next to the South Tower of the Bridge. The City Hall is the working place of the Mayor of London and offers a nice view over London from its viewing platform on the top.

When we arrived at the South Tower we walked down the East Walkway. The most special thing about the Walkways is not the view to the side, but rather the one you get when you look down. Thanks to glass floor in the Walkways you are able to look down on the Bridge and see all the cars and red London buses crossing over the Bridge.

Back in the South Tower we walked through the exhibition on the top and lower level. In the exhibition they showed a film on how the bridge was built and all interesting facts about it. The Bridge is 244m long and constructions started in 1886. After eight years the Tower Bridge was finally finished and was opened on 30th June 1894. Back then it was the largest and most sophisticated bascule Bridge. In 1952 a double-decker bus was just crossing the Bridge when suddenly the north bascule started to rise. The bus then dropped the 6ft gab onto the south bascule, which was slower to lift.
From the lower level we took a lift down to the ground level again.

The last stop of our trip to the Tower Bridge was the Engine Rooms. Because they are at the south bank of the Bridge, we had to leave the Tower and walk the short walk to the Engine Rooms. Inside was an exhibition about the Engines that lift the bascules every time a ship has to pass trough. The bascules are operated by hydraulic and when the Bridge was first constructed they used steam to power the pumping engines. This power is stored in six accumulators to be available at any time. Nowadays the bascules are still operated by hydraulic, but instead of steam they rather use oil and electricity.
Seeing the Engines was really impressive, because they’re so big.

At 1.30pm we finished our tour through the Tower Bridge and walked back to London Bridge were we then said goodbye until later.

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London Bridge

Read here what I’ve done in the time between then and later, when we met again.
After I was finished in Notting Hill, I took the Tube at Notting Hill Gate to get to King’s Cross/St. Pancras Station, where I would meet Mäthi and Anne again.
Since it took me quite a while, they already went to Pizza Express to start their dinner. When I arrived there at 10pm I just had a starter and we talked about our plans for the next day. We decided that we want to go on the London Eye together and booked the tickets there and then online.

At 11pm we went on our way home and while they just had to walk for a few minutes, I had a one hour journey again. When I arrived home at 12am, I was surprised to see a small package for me and obviously opened it immediately. The package was from my host fathers’ mother from Ireland. She remembered that I tried to get some Aran knitting patterns for my mum, but couldn’t find any, so she send me three patterns with a short note. I’m really thankful that she went out of her way to get the patterns for my mum and send them to me!

Because I had already other plans for Sunday morning and went back to the hospital to see Max, I only met Mäthi and Anne in the evening.
As we planned to visit the London Eye we agreed to meet at the Eye around 6.30pm. Since we had bought the tickets the night before we could just enter to watch the film about the London Eye, before we would go on the London Eye itself.

As we had the Flexi Fast Track Tickets, we were allowed to show up at any time during the day and when we were there, we could skip the main part of the queue. Thanks to this combo ticket we were able to enter the London Eye just 5 minutes after the sunset had started. It’s the perfect time to be on there, since you get to see everything while it’s still bright enough. But then you get all the nice colours of the sun setting and in the end London by night.

The London Eye is the tallest ferris or observation wheel in Europe and was originally built to celebrate the new Millennium and was formerly opened on 31st December 1999, by Prime Minister Tony Blair. It is 135m high and has 32 capsules, which each holds 25 people. The number of the capsules is no coincidence but is on purpose as they each represent one of London’s boroughs. When the wheel gets going it doesn’t stop for the people to get on (only for disabled or elderly people), since it’s only moving 26cm per second.

Each rotation takes 30 minutes and therefore we were finished with the nice experience around 7.25pm. Because we all were hungry and hadn’t had dinner yet, we decided to walk to Leicester Square to find somewhere to eat.
When we arrived at 8pm, we chose a nice pizzeria and enjoyed the last two hours together.
At 10pm we had to say goodbye, since they were flying back to Germany the next day.
We went to the Leicester Square Tube Station, where I then ended my weekend, which had started so dramatically at exactly the same spot.

Even though it was only a short weekend and I couldn’t do as much with them as I hoped I could, I still enjoyed my time with them.
But the most important thing is that they came to visit me and I got to see them again!
Thank you for visiting and I hope you had a great time!

Looking forward to see the next visitors,
Vicky! Xx