I looked at my calendar today and realized that I arrived home from my Europe trip over a month ago. It feels like it was just yesterday but at the same time I feel like a year’s worth of stuff has happened since then. I had intended to blog about the trip either during the trip or right after, but that obviously didn’t happen. But nonetheless, here we go…
I have to admit that going into my trip that England was actually the least exciting for me of the three (technically four) countries that I was going to visit. I knew I would enjoy seeing London but I saw it as something basic that you really should do on your first trip to Europe. It just wasn’t something that I was giddy excited about. Little did I know that I was going to fall in love with British culture and just London in general. It’s an amazing city with an endless list of things to do and lots of fun quirks. Despite the language being the same I found that there were lots of quirky differences in how the British refer to certain things and was highly amused on many occasions. I also found the stereotypes about Londoners being reserved and unfriendly to be largely inaccurate. It didn’t hurt that every single guy had a hot British accent since you can’t really go wrong with that. ;)
I spent four and a half days in England, about half of which I actually spent in London itself. Here are some of the highlights and things I did while in London:
The Tube – I loved it! I’ve decided that living in a city with mass transit is something that I need to make happen at some point in my lifetime. I love figuring out the best way to get from point A to point B, I love maps, and I loved spending a lot of time walking around a city instead of driving. It’s no wonder that a lot of Londoners are quite slim.
A bike tour – I wanted to find something to help me stay awake that first day when I arrived in London. My sister went to Edinburgh for 24 hours, so I was on my own as far as keeping myself awake. The night before I the trip I stumbled upon the idea to take a bike tour and I’m so incredibly glad that I did.
It was a “night tour” (however, it wasn’t dark until after 10 PM) that covered most of the major sites south of the Thames. I loved exploring the city on bike (left side of the road anyone?), the tour guide was awesome, and it was just me and a family of four so it practically a personal tour. It was a fantastic way to orient myself with the area (my hostel was by the London Bridge) while also keeping me awake. Plus, the tour ended with a stop at a local pub where I got to have my first beer in Europe. It was a house ale that was utterly fantastic and I’m incredibly bummed that I can’t get it again.
Big Ben – Of course I had to go see him. I got some better shots of just Big Ben, but this is one of the only decent shots I got that actually has me in the picture.
Speaking of classic pictures…
British Museum – I’ve concluded that I’m not much of a museum person. As much as I can appreciate the fact that this museum has some pretty awesome stuff in it, I was over it in about five minutes. The wall to wall people didn’t help matters either.
Science Museum – However, I did greatly enjoy the Science Musuem. I guess it’s just the engineer in me. The Google exhibit in the basement was fun, so make sure to check that out if you go.
Buckingham Palace – I happened to accidentally end up around Buckingham Palace about 20 minutes before the changing of the guards, so I decided to stick around and watch. I ended up squeezing into a front row spot when someone left, but it was on the side that seems to be further away from most of the action. While it’s fun to be able to say that I’ve seen the changing of the guards, I actually left partway through it because I got bored. And then I couldn’t cross the street to get back to the Tube station because of course that was when the horse procession went down the street. But it is cool to be able to say that I’ve seen it. One more touristy thing that I can check off!
Thames River (and Tower Bridge) – There were multiple times during the trip where I got to walk (or bike!) along the Thames and I loved it every time. When I go back to London I want to rent a bike and just bike along the Thames for a good long bit of time. You can see some major landmarks along the way, not to mention that at night you see all of the locals hanging out at various pubs and you feel like you get a true idea of what life is like in central London for the locals.
Kensington Palace – I was trying to avoid doing too many things with entrance fees since there are so many free things to do in London, but I’m glad that I went ahead and paid for this one. I felt like it was a deep dive into the royal history of England. The garden was beautiful!
Hyde Park – One thing that I wish I had spent more time exploring while in London were the parks since they seem to have so many amazing ones. I only got a small taste of Hyde Park, but it was fantastic. Next time I’m in London I want to rent one of the bikes and just spend a couple of hours exploring around Hyde Park.
Westminster – I had intended to actually go inside of Westminster, but as things turned out it ended up only being something we stopped by briefly. Someday when I go back I want to see the inside of it, since I’m sure it’s as stunning inside as it was on the outside.
Stay tuned for more about the rest of my time in England!
What are your favorite places to visit or things to do in London?