by Tanya Vanpraseuth
London, otherwise known as “The Big Smoke,” is set on the River Thames and home to famous sights such as Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and the London Eye. This infamous city had been one I have been set on seeing since a young age. London had been the setting of many novels and movies as well as the home to many writers, historical figures, and of course the British Royal Family.
Even though I had only been able to visit England for a short while during a tour, it definitely did not fail to amaze me. The city itself was bustling with energy and filled with people. The River Thames shined underneath the sunlight as the London Eye circled above it. Big Ben loomed over us and everywhere I looked I could see red buses turning through the streets and London’s iconic red telephone boxes. It brought me to another time.
My first stop in London was the Westminster Abbey. A beautifully designed Gothic church known to be one of England’s most notable religious buildings and the traditional place for coronations and burial site for monarchs. Near the Westminster Abbey was also the well known Great Bell called Big Ben that loomed over us. I had seen both the Westminster Abbey and Big Ben in photos, but it was even more majestic in person. Next, we explored what I was most excited to see: castles and palaces. I had been fascinated with learning more about British history, especially the history of the Royal Family.
I was overjoyed to be able to see Buckingham Palace, the beautiful residence of the current monarch and one of the most famous attractions within the United Kingdom. Fortunately, I was also able to watch the Changing of the Queen’s guard marched down the street and towards the palace. Next, we visited Windsor Castle, which was where the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Prince Harry and Meghan Markle) recently got married. It was easily the favourite place I visited, especially since I loved anything do with history, architecture, castles, and royalty.
While visiting, I had learned that Windsor Castle was built in the 11th century and has been used by all the monarchs. It is now known for its architecture, association with the British royal family, and as being the longest-occupied palace in Europe. It was surreal to be able to see a real castle that was used by kings and queens. I had always wanted to visit castles in Europe and this one did not disappoint. I was fascinated by all the rooms, beautifully designed ceilings, amazing artwork, and intricate artifacts within the palace.
Overall, visiting England had been an extraordinary experience and I was fascinated by the history and culture. I hope to one day return to the United Kingdom.