With the Royal Wedding less than two days away, I became inspired to write about our time in London a few years ago.
Before my senior year of college, I studied abroad in Rome, and after my last class, my husband and I traveled to London for a few days before heading back to the States. This was my second trip to London, and I was excited to see more of the city and experience it as an adult. This was Brian’s first time, however, so we decided to try to see as much of the city in the short time we had. This meant lots of walking!
There were two things that I wasn’t able to do on my first trip to London that I told Brian I had to do the second time around… Eat fish & chips and go on the London Eye. Very touristy, I know, but I am a firm believer in doing the touristy things as well as the off-the-beaten-path stuff.
Other than completing my short “London Check List,” we really didn’t have too much planned, other than to enjoy the city. Which could only mean one thing, wandering! Of course, we had things we wanted to find during our strolls, but we spent our days starting at one point in the city and ending in another. Finding cool things along the way that we would either stop at, or make a mental note to go back to later.
This is honestly NOT the way I plan trips, so it was a very different experience for me. I am typically very organized and always have a very detailed itinerary with a tourist check list, but this trip I only had two things on my list! Here’s what we stumbled upon…
Our first day started off near Kings Cross Station (yes, we went to see Platform 9 3/4). After walking through the station, we decided to walk along The River Thames and see what we could find on our way to the London Eye and Parliament.
We spent the afternoon hoping from street festival to street festival. Walking through the hustle and bustle, and trying out a carnival ride. It was a beautiful summer day, so the city was filled with people soaking up the good weather.
We finally made it to the London Eye, and yes, while it is a huge tourist attraction, it is still one of the largest ferris wheels in the world! So, we took it for a spin! I will say it is 100% worth it, and we would have loved to go a second time at night to see all of the city lights.
I would recommend buying tickets ahead of time so it’s not sold out when you arrive. They do also have student rates, so if you are a college student, or still have a student ID, you can get a great discount!
Continuing our journey, we walked across the Thames to Parliament and got some much needed photos of Big Ben (again, super touristy). We also wondered around a bit so I could find St. John’s Smith Square, which is a concert hall I performed in with my high school choir. If you have time while your in London, they have great concerts as well as a charming restaurant.
Next stop on our “walking tour” was Buckingham Palace! The royals fascinate me, so I love getting a glimpse at their life. I also love the ornate architecture and how over the top every detail is. Even the gate to the palace is beautiful. I could only imagine the attention to detail that’s inside.
After a long day of wondering the city, we were ready for a beer and some fish & chips! We stopped at a bar that we past on the river earlier that day and grab some drinks. As soon as our drinks were in hand, we asked to see a menu, and of course the kitchen was closed. Having just come from Rome, we were use to having kitchens stay open until after midnight, so we didn’t even think about when most places would close in London.
We asked where the nearest place was where we could get some fish and chips was, and there was a bar about 5 minutes down the road (and their kitchen closed in 15 minutes!). We finished our beers and ran to the bar. Stumbling in, we were probably one of 5 people in the entire place, but they (sort of reluctantly) made us our dinner as they were shutting down for the night. Even though, we felt kind of bad having them prepare it for us so close to closing, it was the best fish & chips I’d ever had. And, honestly, we really worked for it!
The next day, we decided to go to the British Museum. No student ID discount needed here, because this museum is free! There are so many great things to discover inside, but I think our favorite things were the Rosetta Stone and one of the first games of chess ever found.
The rest of our day was spent walking through the city on our way to find St. John’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square and Hyde Park. Stumbling upon street markets and delicious pastries and meat pies along the way.
I will say, wondering around London, was really fun and a pretty relaxing way to travel and explore a city. There is something poetic about getting lost in a foreign place, or stumbling across a coffee shop you would have never found otherwise. I hope I can do it again soon.
How do you like to travel? Are you a wonderer, or do you like to plan out every detail?