I have been to London twice, and both times I have stayed here, at St Paul's YHA.
I'll always love that area because after spending most of my life dreaming of visiting Great Britain, it was the first place I actually got to explore. And "living" there meant it became the kind of home away from home you make for yourself when you're traveling.
The hostel isn't exactly nice, but look at that building. It started life as a place for the kids in the choir (or choir school?) at St Paul's to live. It was gorgeous. Also it was also incredibly inexpensive. The first time, when I was traveling alone, I shared a room for 8 girls. When I went later with Hannah we had a room for just the two of us.
See the face in that ariel shot of the cathedral? That's where I was standing when I took the below photo of the hostel.
The location was pretty great, too. Being that close to St Paul's also means being that close to the Millennium Bridge and everything at the other side of that (The Tate & The Globe right away, for example).
That's Queen Anne. She was the Queen at the start of the 1700s, and the great grandmother of George 3, who sent a fully armed battalion to remind us of his love.
When I was there in late April, flowers were blooming all over and it was beyond gorgeous.
Just to the right of the cathederal there was a walkway and gardens that I fell in love with.
I mean look.
And they smelled like peace and heaven.
Ok but back up to the photo before this. Look way to the right. See the little silver door?
It was a tiny little pay toilet.
I love noticing the differences between American and British culture. They're really similar in so many ways, but there are little things. One of them is the toilet. Most people would agree that British people are more polite than we are, but not, it seems, when it comes to the toilet.
We never call it the toilet in American unless we are specifically talking about a piece of plumbing. And I know, not NEVER but come on, we don't. We call it the bathroom or the restroom or the ladies room or lots of things, but none of them specifically state the main reason you're going there. We don't like to talk about that.
I get why it's different in England. The toilet is not always in the same place as the washroom or the bathroom. But it still gives me signs when I see "toilet" so blatantly on signs everywhere.
I mean come on. Don't announce what I'm doing in there.
Right next to St Paul's was this handy little stand alone toilet. It was a pay toilet and I was being super cheap on that trip so I am sorry I can't show you what it was like inside. If I see one again, though, I'll splurge the pound or two and check it out.
Across from the toilet is this lovely space.
I sat on on of those benches for a minute every day I was there. A couple days I stopped by the Marks & Spencer to grab what was to become my favorite lunch all across England and eat it there.
I cleverly took this picture of said lunch after I was done eating most of it - earlier it had been a delicious pasta salad with spinach, little tomatoes and pine nuts, a chocolate elcair and a square bottle of water.
I loved that pasta so much I tried to recreate it several times after I got home, but it was never the same. I don't know if they still sell this pasta salad, but I will definitely be checking.
Things are a bit crazy around here as I get ready for my next trip to London. I leave two weeks from tomorrow. But I've been enjoying looking at old pictures and reminiscing and wanted to share.