In this week's post, Katrina talks about attending one of CAPA London's My Global Education events: a riverboat tour on the Thames and a visit to Greenwich, a vibrant and historical neighborhood in the city's south east.
An added perk of studying abroad with CAPA is the included excursions and activities that we get to enjoy for free. I would highly encourage any future CAPA students to take advantage every single opportunity CAPA provides. Some of these opportunities are called My Global Education events and are optional tours and activities that allow a student to explore London with their classmates. While almost all of these activities could be done without the group, speaking from experience, it is far easier this way when they arrange the booking and details so all you have to do is show up and enjoy. Personally, I also get more enjoyment out of things when I know what they are, so I enjoy the short guided tours and tidbits of information our amazing CAPA staff provides.
Photo: Big Ben (obviously!)
Last weekend was chock full of CAPA events and I really enjoyed everything we were able to see and do with CAPA. After a full day enjoying Stonehenge and Bath, we woke up Sunday morning to head down the Thames for a riverboat tour.
Photo: London Tower Bridge from the Thames
The dock was just under the Parliament building, so we alighted the tube at Westminster station. It was my first experience in the Westminster area - the region in central London that everyone pictures when they think of the city. I was amazed to step out of the tube station and see Big Ben looming above. The first thought that struck me was just how big it was. Growing up, everyone sees the iconic photos of Big Ben, but the thing is huge, and far more impressive in reality than ever photo could ever portray. It sounds goofy to say, but I was kind of star struck. I think I stood in awe for a full five minutes.
Photo: Tower Bridge and The Shard
We boarded the boat and enjoyed the journey down the Thames — complete with narration from a sassy crew member. I enjoyed seeing the city from a new perspective and seeing areas I haven’t seen before. One thing I noticed throughout the journey was how there was a unique blend of modern and historic buildings. 18th century pubs and warehouses stood adjacent to modern high-rises and apartment complexes. This provided an interesting parallel to the city itself; London is living, breathing, and always changing. But it holds fast to a strong history, celebrating it rather than erasing or trying to move away from its past. Of all the amazing things we saw on the river, a highlight for me was seeing (and boating under) Tower Bridge. Again, it was one of those things I’d only ever seen in photos, and it was stunning in person.
Photo: Royal Naval College, Greenwich
After a lovely ride, the boat docked in Greenwich, where we departed and explored the area. It was less busy than the parts of central London I’d see before. Though the boat trip took about forty minutes, I was surprised to find that we were still located in central London (Zone 2).
Photo: Gipsy Moth pub in Greenwich
CAPA leaders took us on a short walking tour of the area — beginning with the Royal Naval college. The buildings were absolutely stunning and I enjoyed learning about the history of the college. After a quick tour, we broke into small groups for lunch and exploring. We found a charming pub then explored the Greenwich market. Whenever I travel, I love going to local markets; this one was bustling with different food stalls (with everything imaginable), and live artists, jewelry, textiles, soaps and toys. Exploring the market was a sensory overload in the best way. It felt so authentic to the city, like if you condensed all of London into a few city blocks, all of the diversity and culture was present within the Greenwich market.
Click back next week for a recap of the CAPA trip to Paris!
Katrina's journey continues every Wednesday so stay tuned.