Today’s post (if it wasn’t obvious) is about the first leg of our journey! We only spent one night in London (regretfully only one, there was far too much to see in such a short time) but we slammed it with as much as we could squeeze in! As will most usually be the case, there is a small gallery of photos at the bottom of this post but from here on out, any photos that I don’t use in each post will be posted in the gallery! I do have to ask though that if you would like to use any of my photos, feel free, but please give the proper photo credit!
Great! Now that that’s out of the way on to the experience!
As someone with anxiety, the flight definitely started off a little nerve wracking. It was my first international flight and I knew we would be out over open water for quite a while. It didn’t help that they changed our pilot last minute so they had to redo all of the safety checks while we sat on the plane until they were finished. Better safe than sorry though so I didn’t mind too much. Other than that the flight was super smooth and went quickly! I remember very distinctly flying over the country side as we approached London and seeing all of the flats, I don’t know how I stayed in my seat I was so excited! I landed in Heathrow (which is enormous! So much so that it took about a half an hour just to find my aunt!) and we were off!
First thing, we went straight to our hotel. We ended up staying at the Lancaster London Hotel which was such a nice place! We decided since we were only going to be in London for one day, the hop on hop off bus tours, which honestly are one of the best ways to see as much as you can in a short amount of time! It wasn’t terribly expensive (£35 if I remember correctly.) There are two daytime routes that you can take on the regular red hop on hop off buses. We got to see almost all of the most famous monuments and places in passing and I even got some pretty decent photos!
We stopped off near Westminster Abbey because there were some things nearby we couldn’t just see in passing. We walked around the Westminster area seeing the Abbey and 10 Downing Street (well…what we could see from the gate anyway). Now I’m not sure if I mentioned, but I have a very hefty obsession with the Middle Ages. Seeing the perpendicular gothic (part of the English gothic) style of architecture of Westminster Abbey was just astounding!
As a bit of a digression, as an American, coming from a country where the visible history is still very young, the amount of history that you could see and feel in really all of the places I’ve been to so far in Europe, was almost overwhelming (in a good way) at times. To see buildings and structures older than the city and country I currently live in was so crazy!
After taking some time in Westminster, we crossed the bridge to do probably the most touristy thing we could think of which was to see all of London from the Eye. It didn’t disappoint. It was so cool to see all of the monuments and buildings that you see on TV growing up or all over your friends’ facebooks and instagram accounts! I couldn’t help but to imagine what the city must have looked like throughout history.
We passed back over the bridge to take a walk through Saint James Park. We stopped off on a small bridge to take some pictures and then walked over to Buckingham Palace. It was actually surprisingly quiet that day, I expected many more tourists to be gathered around taking pictures like we were.
At about this point it was starting to get dark so we had to decide where to go from there. We had a handful of pamphlets we had picked up in passing and had a peek through them to see what was nearby and what we could get to in a relatively short amount of time. Now I know, it may seem almost redundant to mention another bus tour, I mean, we had already gone on one right? Well we found a night time bus tour of the city that passed a large handful of places we didn’t get to see on the hop on hop off bus (because we only took one of the two routes.) We decided since we were only there for one day it would be nice to see London by night from the bus. Now of course, you can only expect the bus to be filled with other tourists but what are the chances of running into someone from where YOU live right? Well it happened! I couldn’t help but to laugh and ask where the woman sitting in front of me was from when I heard her say she needed “cwahfee” (coffee). We actually ended up swapping emails and sharing the photos we had taken of each other for the sake of souvenirs!
After the bus ride, we were both exhausted, having barely slept on an overnight flight as well as a ton of walking so we headed, windblown and tired, back to our hotel.
There was just far too much to see in such a short time. Looking back now, I’m not sure why we only decided to stay in London for one day. I think maybe we were more concentrated on seeing where we knew we had more familial history (Ireland and Scotland.) We only briefly got to see the Tower of London but I know for sure when I go back that I will be spending some time there. I have so many places on my list to see! I’m actually considering applying to get my graduate degree in London so who knows, I may even get to live there some day! I can only imagine the sheer joy of spending a few years in this beautiful city exploring every inch of history that I possibly could!
Next stop: Edinburgh!