Big fun in London!

I’ve never been to Europe before, so one thing I knew I wanted to budget while saving up for this semester was some travel to as many places as I could get to. Due to my less than outstanding saving skills and the realization that I’m never going to make it everywhere I want to go in just Copenhagen, let alone the entire continent of Europe, I’ve realized this is only going to end up being four or five places, but I am still so excited for what’s to come.

I kicked off my travels this past weekend with a solo trip to London. Way back in early May, Playbill tweeted about a short six-week revival of my favorite musical in the whole world, Heathers, that was taking place in London. So of course, I immediately dropped what I was doing to go buy a ticket. I knew getting to London from Copenhagen was a relatively cheap flight, and I knew I was probably going to end up in London anyways during my semester, so I saw no reason not to make the decision at that exact moment.

I knew there was a chance that I could maybe find someone who loved Heathers the way I love Heathers, and they’d maybe want to take a trip to London in one of our first weekends in Copenhagen, but I always figured I’d probably end up taking the trip alone. Which was perfectly fine with me. I took a trip to New York alone earlier this year and had the time of my life, love doing things alone at home, and completely trust my ability to navigate a new area without any help.

My flight left Copenhagen at around 8:30 on Thursday night, which had me set to get to London Gatwick at around 10 p.m. local time. I weighed all my options to get to my hostel, and found that taking the hour-long train was the quickest and would involve the least amount of walking alone in the dark in a city I’d never been to before. The walk took me down a main street in what appeared to be a super fun, young, and lively neighborhood, and my excitement only grew for the next 36 hours I’d be spending in the area, as I had a different Airbnb in the theater district for my third night after the show. I immediately passed out in my all-girl bunk-bed room to prepare for the following day.

I started my day at Where the Pancakes are, a breakfast place about ten minutes from my hostel, and used their wifi to plan the rest of my day. A friend had suggested I check out the Tate Modern museum, so I decided I’d start there, go see Saint Paul’s cathedral, and maybe take a trip on the London Eye as those were all relatively close to where I was staying the first two nights.

When I tell you this meal changed my life.. I mean it.

Tate Modern ended up consuming a large chunk of my day, but the huge variety of art they had on display for free made it hard to leave!

Saint Paul’s cathedral was just across the bridge from Tate, so I went there next. I’ve always thought old churches were beautiful, so I thought it would be amazing to see, but tickets to go inside were 35 pounds. So instead, I took some photos of the outside.

Next, I decided to walk to the London Eye, and stop for a snack or drink at whatever place looked the coolest on my way. I ended up finding a pub called Blackfriars, which I learned was built in the 1860s and had been preserved since 1905! Apparently there’s an initiative to save and preserve historic pubs in the UK, and this was one of them. It was so beautiful to look around!

I continued my walk to the London Eye, but after learning I’d have to spend 35 pounds to ride it, I decided to sit on a ledge and observe instead.

At this point, my phone needed a charge and my legs needed some rest, so I headed back to my hostel for a break. On this walk, I saw a sign for Come From Away, a musical about the planes that were diverted to a tiny island off the coast of Canada called Newfoundland on 9/11, and the way the town welcomed the thousands of unexpected visitors with excitement and love. I’d seen the show in New York with my mom a couple years ago, and I always remember it as one of the best Broadway shows I’ve ever seen, if not the best. And it was having a run in London! So of course, I immediately purchased a ticket for that night.

I left way too early for the show out of pure excitement, and walked around the West End looking at all of the bars and restaurants and taking in the scenery. With all of my restaurant options, I chose to go to Chipotle. I promise this was justified, there isn’t Chipotle in Copenhagen! I’ve been craving a Pancheros-style burrito since I left America, so I think I deserved this one meal.

The theater was right next door, so once I finished eating, I went in and found my seat a whole 45 minutes before the show started so I could sit there and feel my excitement in an appropriate setting.

Of course, the show did not let me down. I laughed, cried, and smiled literally the whole time. I hadn’t been to a live show in over two years, so this experience only made me even more excited for Heathers the following night.

I made my way back to the hostel via the tube, and immediately passed out.

I started my Saturday with another delicious breakfast, and then made my way to the clinic I needed to get my COVID test at. If you want to get into the UK right now, you’re *required* to purchase a COVID test on your second day, no matter where you’re from, if you’re vaccinated, or how long you’re staying. While this was slightly annoying, nothing was going to stop me from getting to London to see Heathers, so I dealt with it.

I then made my way to Buckingham Palace and spent a lot of time looking around at the beautiful park nearby and watching everyone take their photos in front of the gates. At one point, I heard a child that couldn’t have been older than five years old gasp and say, “Wow, I never thought I’d actually see this!” It was funny to me because, like, it was a child. But, I was kind of in the same boat as them.

Big Ben is unfortunately under construction, but I still took a walk by it on my way back to my Airbnb to get ready for Heathers.

I was smart this time and made a reservation for an Italian restaurant close to the theater. Dining alone can feel weird sometimes, but I just always have to remind myself that I’m probably never going to see any of these people again, and no one really cares if you’re the only person at your table because they’re too focused on their own meal

I made my way to the Theatre Royal Haymarket over an hour before the show started thinking I’d just walk around the area while I was waiting. I was so wrong to think I’d be the only one eager to get in, because when I arrived, I saw a massive crowd of excited people lined up outside. Some were dressed in the classic Heathers blazer and plaid skirt, some had teased their hair and put it up in a scrunchie, and everyone seemed equally excited for what was about to come.

Showtime finally rolled around, and the energy radiating from the crowd was indescribable- the actors had to hold at every moderately iconic line for the crowd to scream and cheer. I don’t know how to describe how it feels to see the songs you’ve been repeating in your headphones for years finally come to life on a stage- complete with professional level choreography, costuming and lighting, but I truly think it was one of the happiest three hours of my life. Knowing I was sharing the experience with hundreds of other people that felt the exact same way as me made it all the more better. I left with the biggest smile, and put the Heathers soundtrack on in my headphones for my walk home.

My Fitbit showed I’d walked almost 12 miles that day, and almost nine the day before, so I understandably passed out the second my head hit the pillow.

I woke up at 5 a.m. the following day to make my flight at Stansted, and after a few minor setbacks, I made it safely back to Copenhagen. My Sunday was filled with sleep and overall happiness that I was lucky enough to experience everything that I did in the past three days.

Published by hawkelki

Hi! My name is Ellie Hawkins, and I’m currently a senior at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. I’m studying abroad at DIS Copenhagen for the Fall 2021 semester and am so excited for all I will get to experience.

2 thoughts on “Big fun in London!

  1. Been to Europe twice, but the time I remember the most was my experiences in England.

    The Bristol Pilgrimage- the church choir at my family church was in residence at Bristol Cathedral. Outside of the choir, family and friends also attended. My family went up two days early- glad that happened. I saw Les Mis in London prior to the pilgrimage- July 30th, 2015.

    The Pilgrimage- Windsor Castle, Walking Tour of London, Evensong at Westminster, Eucharist at St. Paul’s, and Tower of London (only time to walk around). After all of that, time to head to Bristol. We ended up visiting Bath, Berkeley Castle, Stonehenge, Old Sarum, Salisbury Cathedral, Tintern Abbey, and Chepstow Castle.


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