My First Impressions of London (Ciprian Dobra, ITP 2019, Romania)

Written by Ciprian Dobra, Guide and Counsellor, the Principia Museum (ITP 2019, Romania)

My name is Ciprian Dobra, I am from Alba Iulia, Romania, and I am a participant on the ITP for 2019. I work in a site museum, the Principia Museum, that focuses on the Roman army, specifically the 13th Legion Gemina.

I arrived in London on Saturday. Although I had a rather short flight, I felt so very tired that I spent the afternoon sleeping. The accommodation at Schafer House has some very convenient living conditions, except the internet access which has been difficult (Romania has the 4th fastest internet in the world so I hope you understand what I mean)! I slept for a few hours, but I was suddenly awoken by some very high-pitched alarm sounds. It was the fire alarm; by the time I could figure out how to turn it off the alarm stopped, but I could not sleep anymore. So, I went for a walk in the city towards Trafalgar Square where I walked into Pride – a large LGBTQ event taking place over the weekend. It was a little shocking to me, not because of their sexual orientation or their outfits, but the sheer amount of people, so much noise and a lot of mess! There was no room at any of the nearby restaurants, so I kept walking towards the River Thames. I saw the London Eye, a statue of Boudicca (a figure I respect very much) and a monument dedicated to the Second World War. I then returned to Schafer House.

A diagram of the view from the top of Hampstead Heath

On Sunday I woke up late and decided to see some of the big sights close to Schafer House. I walked to the Madame Tussaud’s wax museum but was completely put off by the huge line for entry! I decided to go the Sherlock Holmes Museum instead. Another line, but shorter this time. I bought my ticket and waited patiently to get in. So, £15 (a little expensive for an Eastern European) and almost 2 hours later (which gave me a chance to catch up with my reading), I entered the museum. I have seen some movies and some TV series of the characters of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and I was very impressed with the things that I saw. I especially liked the short introduction given by a man with an absolutely lovely British accent (music to a philologist’s ear). I then met my friend and colleague Ioan Oprea (another ITP 2019 Fellow) in front of the London Central Mosque. A very kind gentleman allowed me to enter the Mosque although I was wearing shorts, which is not part of the dress code. I do not know much about Islam, but I was impressed with the building. I tried some of their oriental perfumes available in the shop and met a man named Johnny who was from Northern Ireland and had converted to Islam. He invited us to a talk to learn more about the religion, but since we wanted to see more of London we went on to Primrose Hill and Hampstead Heath. I was very impressed with the views from these two high-up places, but I was mostly impressed with the concept of ‘parks’ here in London. We would call these parks ‘woods’ in Romania! I was also impressed with the streets that led us to these places. I love the British architecture and these neighbourhoods seemed so calm and homely, so clean and welcoming that I wanted to stay more.

So, I enjoyed my first two days in London and I hope, actually I am sure, that I will see so much more of it.