—by Todd Thorson
(This is the third in a series of articles about Molly Ammerman’s study abroad experiences last fall in Bangor, Wales, as part of the Central College study abroad program. Molly, a graduate of Roland-Story and currently a senior in psychology, arrived in Wales the second weekend of September and began classes at Bangor University on September 30. She returned home on December 21, but not after she had visited such places as Ireland, London, Scotland, Rome, Greece, Krakau and Aschwitz. The articles use photos, recollections and postings from her own blog, "The Life of Molly: Adventures Abroad", which she regularly wrote throughout her stay in Wales.)
With one weekend free before starting classes in Bangor, Wales, Molly Ammerman and her fiance Jake Mollman left on a trip to London on Wednesday, September 25, via train. The trip took about three and a half hours, and according to Molly, "was incredibly easy to navigate".
Upon arriving in London, Molly met up with a friend from Central College back home, and she quickly advised Molly and Jake about what sites to take in; especially the ones all lit up at night. After a quick bite at a Chipotle’s they were off to explore the beautiful London landscape.
"Seeing things like Big Ben, the Parliament and the London Eye, all lit up, was life changing," said Molly.
The following morning, Molly and Jake were up and ready to go again, as exploring more sites was on the agenda. They visited the Tower Bridge (commonly known as London Bridge), the Tower of London, the London Eye, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the House of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Kensington Place and the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain.
"Despite it being a great day, weather wise, my feet were crying, literally," stated Molly.
It was back to Buckingham Palace on Friday (Sept. 27), where they attempted to watch the famous "changing of the guard".
"We watched for a while, but then became overwhelmed by all the people, so we decided to start our tour," Molly explained.
Molly and Jake had purchased a special "Royal Day Out" pass that allowed them to see the Royal Mews, the Queen’s Gallery and also tour the magnificent state rooms inside Buckingham Palace.
"The Royal Mews were very cool and very impressive," commented Molly. "The Queen’s Gallery was just a gallery, so it wasn’t my favorite."
Their last stop on the Buckingham Palace tour was the state rooms. "Oh my gosh! They were amazing!" exclaimed Molly. "Last summer, Jake and I had the opportunity to visit and tour the White House, which was very neat, don’t get me wrong. But this didn’t compare! It was incredible, and I would highly recommend this tour to anyone."
One of Molly’s favorite parts of the tour was the grand staircase that they were allowed to climb. Their audio guides began playing Royal music as they started walking the staircase.
"I imagined myself in a beautiful Royal gown, making an entrance," Molly recollects. "It was so much fun, and a dream come true!"
One of the last rooms Molly and Jake visited was where the Royal family held many of their past baptisms. "I made a comment to Jake that I bet baby George would probably be Christened in this room as well," she stated.
Little did Molly know that Kensington Place, where Prince William, Kate and George were to move into soon, had just made a special announcement, stating that George would be Christened at St. James Palace on October 23, and not at Buckingham Palace.
"Oh well. It was crazy to realize that we had visited Kensington Place the day before, and this big announcement was made less than 24 hours after. I was jealous to have missed it," said Molly.
On Saturday (Sept. 28), on their last day in London, Molly and Jake headed for the Oxford Street shopping area. There they came upon a huge NFL party, nearby on Regency Street, celebrating the upcoming big game the next day between the Minnesota Vikings and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
With Jake being a huge Vikings fan, "he was in heaven," Molly observed. "We were able to stay for a short time, but while there we ‘got’ to see the Viking cheerleaders and the drum line. Next up: A few of the players? But guess what? Our train was leaving soon and we had to leave. What a bummer! Oh, and in case you were wondering, the Queen was in Scotland. Don’t worry! I asked!"
Soon Molly and Jake were heading back to Bangor, Wales, and by Saturday evening they were back in the dorm flats with their fellow students. Monday morning (Sept. 30) would be the first day of classes at Bangor University.
"London was great!" concluded Molly. "I got to tour Buckingham Palace and see the Changing of the Guard. It was simply incredible, but it did involve lots of walking. I really enjoyed the city (itself) and visiting the many sites I had always dreamed of. It definitely was a check off my bucket list!"
Next up:"Keep Calm: ‘Cuz He Put a Ring On It!"