By Ely Schosek
Over the recent February break, a group of about 25 Springville-Griffith Institute community members including parents, students and teachers traveled to Europe, specifically England, France and Spain.
The group departed from Buffalo-Niagara International Airport on Friday, Feb. 14. With a connecting flight in Washington, D.C., the group arrived in London around 7 a.m., local time following a mechanical issue before takeoff which caused a bit of a delay.
After a safe but long flight, the group took a bus to their hotel to drop their bags before heading off for a day of touring the city.
When they arrived at the airport, the group met their tour director, Adam, a young British man full of knowledge about his home country of England. He first took the group to a market called the Borough Market which featured many items such as desserts, fresh fruits and vegetables, foreign foods and a variety of meats both familiar and unfamiliar.
Following this stop, the group took another walk through the wind and the rain along the Thames River which runs through the center of the city. They crossed the Millennium Bridge, named for when it was built.
Some of the other sights included Trafalgar Square, which is essentially the center of the city where everything else is measured out from; Piccadilly Circus, which is London’s equivalent to NYC’s Times Square; Tate Modern art gallery; and The National Gallery.
Dinner that night was a classic meal of fish and chips which consists of breaded white fish and, as we say in the states, French fries. Dessert was a simple vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce. This was at a restaurant called Gig’s Fish and Chips.
After a night of sleep, the group had a nice breakfast at the hotel buffet and headed off to pick up their tour guide, Corinna, for the day.
Corinna spent the day sharing her wealth of knowledge for her city with the group. She showed the group the monuments and parts of the city that you probably think of when you hear, “London.”
They were able to take pictures of Westminster Abbey and even see the traditional red telephone booths that you always see in movies since they’re all over London.
One of the most striking differences between the United States and Europe is the frequency of castles in Europe. The group was able to see Buckingham Palace and watch part of the guard change despite the rain and wind. After that, they got a chance to tour Windsor Castle, both inside and out. Corinna even pointed out to the group the flag atop one of the towers that signified that the queen was currently staying at Windsor.
That night the group had a classic meal of “bangers and mash,” which is simply sausages and mashed potatoes with caramelized red onion gravy and peas. Dessert was a slice of chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. This was at The Albert, a relatively well-known pub in the area.
Both Adam and Corinna pointed out some unique places in the city that we used to film parts of the Harry Potter movies like the Millennium Bridge, Diagon Alley, Gringotts and Knockturn Alley.
These two days were jam-packed with everything you could want to see in a visit to London in this short of a timeframe both the historical and well-known aspects and the lesser-known and more contemporary aspects.
The adventure continued the rest of the week with visits to Spain and France.