Trip Report – London
If you haven’t seen me super active on Facebook or Twitter lately, it’s because for two and a half weeks in September I was with my husband celebrating his 30th birthday in Europe. We’ve been planning this trip for about a year and a half and it finally came and went. Out of anywhere in the world, he has always wanted to spend an extended amount of time in Europe. We decided with his big birthday coming up, we’d take advantage of the opportunity (and the somewhat tourist down season) to see some of the major sites in London, Paris, and Provence. Over the next few weeks, I’ll share some of our trip highlights of each place we visited. We had an amazing time, but are so thankful to be home, back to our own beds, kitchen, and even to our daily routines. On to the first trip report – London!
We spent five days in London. By far the toughest part of the trip was getting to and from Europe. With a queasy traveler (me) and a 9 1/2 hour flight followed by an hour bus ride to our hotel, it didn’t make for a very dreamy time getting there. The day we got in, we napped, then took a night time double decker bus tour (where we proceeded to get completely drenched because it was pouring rain – in and outside of the bus). Sadly we didn’t see all that much, because of the rain, but it was fun to get out and experience the new city.
The first full day, we visited and took a tour of the Tower of London and saw the Crown Jewels, took a boat cruise up the River Thames, saw Big Ben, and toured the Westminster Abbey. While all of them were really interesting, the trip highlight for me was Westminster Abbey. To see the history and architecture there was pretty incredible. Plus, I felt kind of giddy being in the same place that the queen and Kate Middleton had once walked.
The second day, we were absolutely exhausted from the day before so took it a little easier. By this point, I had finally caught up on my sleep after having slept almost 10 hours (yikes!). That morning, we made our way to Buckingham Palace to snap some shots before the changing of the guard was to take place. Then we went over to the guard station to watch them prepare for the event. This ended up being a pretty smart way to stay away from the crowds and we still got to see the guards and even saw the band play. Then we made our way to St. Paul’s Cathedral where we took a tour. The architecture was amazing, but the tour wasn’t as interesting as Westminster. Next, we took a few tubes up to the British Museum and grabbed dinner at their cafe and took in some very old artifacts (not exactly my idea of a good time – but my husband enjoyed it).
On the third day, we took a full day bus tour with a group and visited Windsor Castle, Bath, and Stonehenge. This day was fun, but I particularly enjoyed it because I didn’t have to walk everywhere. It was nice at this point in the trip to give my legs some rest. Windsor Castle was really interesting, but we weren’t there all that long. We only had time for the quick audio tour, then it was back on the bus to Bath. Again, once at Bath, we did the audio tour and grabbed a little snack before heading on the bus again. Stonehenge wasn’t all that exciting and I slept on the bus while the tour guide told us all about it. By that point, I was feeling queasy and the only way to stop it was to sleep. To be honest, I don’t really get it, but I don’t think most people do. It was one of those “check off the bucket list” things, I suppose.
The next day, we went to Kensington Palace and Gardens, then wandered around Covent Garden to pick up a few souvenirs and I tried my first macaron from Laduree. I had read about them and had been so excited for this trip to be the first time I would get to have one. They were everything I imagined they would be. I had the raspberry flavor. We capped off our trip by taking a tour on the London Eye. This was a pretty special part of the trip – it wasn’t long or anything really that exciting. It was just a nice way to say goodbye to that leg of the trip and on to the next.
Overall, London was a great time. One of the things that shocked me was how much things cost there (when we factored in the currency conversion). This basically meant we didn’t eat really many meals to write home about and relied on a lot of cheap sandwiches from carts or smaller shops most of the time. Not exactly the most culinary trip in the world, but it wasn’t meant to be. Figuring out the tube system was kind of intimidating (especially at rush hour in the mornings), but once we did – I was curious why they didn’t have such efficient systems all over the U.S. I think London will hold a special place in my heart – everything felt so welcoming and accessible, which I loved. Surprisingly, out of all the places we visited, London is the place I’d probably return to for another vacation. More on that next week when I share my trip report of Paris!