London: Day 30// Hampton Court + British Summer Fest

Yesterday was only the first of many events I have planned for the weekend, and if the other things I have planned are just as fun then this weekend is looking out to be fantastic.The day started just like many of the days prior — the heat was cranked up , the sun was blazing and a water bottle was a must. Despite the heat, I tried my best to enjoy the trip to Hampton Court which was the first destination for the day. I had no idea I was in for a nice surprise –Hampton Court is 800 acres of pure beauty! I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with the grounds but I surely did upon arrival.

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On this trip our wonderful tour guide gave us all a little bit of  a history lesson. Hampton Court is one of the many palaces one can find here in London but this one in particular once housed the infamous King Henry VIII, and is filled with much of his personal belongings. Although the palace is no longer occupied , it is used in current day to house royal artifacts and artwork from the Royal Collection. The walls and ceilings were adorned with beautiful depictions of gods and such historical figures as Caesar and King Henry. While I’m not a huge fan of history (I like to pride myself in the idea of looking towards the future) learning the history of Hampton Court only enhanced it’s allure, urging me to appreciate it more, and giving it a timeless beauty.

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While the inside of the palace displays much of the Royal Collection and remnants of the royal families belongings, the outer parts of the grounds are where the gardens reside. The gardens were my favorite part of Hampton Court, there are several of them located all around the grounds:The Magic Garden, The Rose Garden, The Privy Garden…the list could go on. My group of friends and I made it our mission to visit each garden during our visit, so we filled up our water bottles and ventured out in the heat to do exactly that. The gardens of Hampton court were unlike any other I have ever seen in my life, each garden had a unique beauty of it’s own and undoubtedly it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to in London. If you ever find yourself in London please make some time to visit Hampton Court Palace and take it all in. We picked a perfect day to go, where the sun was shining and all the flowers seemed to be soaking in all of it’s rays; the plants seemed full of life.

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My day was jam-packed, and Hampton Court was only the first event of the day. We started at the palace at 10:30a.m. and left the grounds around 3:45p.m. so a great portion of my time was spent there. After the trip, my friends and I had decided we’d  top off the day at one of London’s infamous parks, Hyde Park. During the summer season the park hosts various free events for the public, one of which includes open air cinemas. One of our Roehampton advisors highly recommended checking out Hyde Park this week and enjoying some of the free events hosted, after hearing the word “free” I began my research. I discovered that they would be showing Back to The Future (one of my all time favorite films, if you haven’t seen it already I highly recommend you do). Very worn out from the trip but very excited to see the film we headed on out to Hyde Park with our blankets and snacks ready for a blast to the past.

Now, for those of you who have never been to Hyde Park let me explain to you that it is a huge public park. Hyde Park is very similar to the Central Park of New York City, except much larger,greener, cleaner, and okay…maybe it’s just way better in general. I’ve walked through the park once before and was immediately awed by the height and vibrant green color of the trees and leaves, I never knew so much green could be found in the center of London; it was beautiful.

There was an area specifically set up for events this week in honor of the British Summer Festival which is the area we were headed to. The festival encompasses a variety of events, some of which include the movie night, an assortment of carnival rides, performances, and a bunch of delicious food and beer stands that would have anyone’s mouth drooling– certainly a summer “must”.

The movie night experience included a pair of big (but kinds cute) headphones that allowed you to hear the film without any interruption from any of the other events occurring around you (i.e. the carnival, the concert, people talking etc.) After we set down our blankets towards the front of the screen (a perfect view), got some food (I chose to eat some BBQ wings that seemed to have been calling my name since the moment I set foot into the event area), the film began shortly.

The overall experience was amazing, as a huge fan of Back to the Future it was fun seeing it not only with friends but amongst various other individuals who were fans just like myself. People were spread out all over the field, some laid down, some sitting, many enjoying their food and drink.

While sitting and enjoying the film I was overwhelmed with a sense of solidarity. During this time I no longer felt like a foreigner in this country, I completely forgot all about being a student here only for the summer. There I was, sitting in the park, watching a film I loved amongst strangers in another country; it was the most casual and comfortable experience I’ve ever had. Not too long ago I was wandering the streets of London like a lost duckling but in recent weeks I’ve found myself transitioning into someone more experienced. I felt like I belonged instead of as a sort of foreign entity.

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The open field and the cool breeze did us some good, it was the perfect way to cool down and relax after the very long morning of walking we had earlier. And it was one of the most perfect ways to get to know the city and it’s people, not as an outsider looking in but as a part of the pack. I’ve come to love this city in ways that I never knew I could; I’ve fallen in love here and for the first time on this trip I felt a sort of panic at the thought of leaving in just a couple of weeks. Oh, how I dread being ripped apart from this place and it’s people. When I fall in love I fall in love hard and it’s difficult to move on. This day was the was the day I realized that London will truly always hold a piece of my heart.

 

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