I’m stymied again. How do you encapsulate five days in a city of legend that millions travel to every year?
I could take pictures of all the famous landmarks; but let’s be honest, I don’t have a fancy camera, and I’m not that serious about it. Let’s just say, we went to a bunch of places.
London is an amazing collection of old and new. So many buildings were decimated by the blitz during World War II; ancient buildings gave way to rubble. According to our tour guide, the cheap, concrete construction is now being replace with skyscrapers.
It’s a strange yet wonderful mixture.
We stayed near the Tower of London.
The beefeater tour is free, fun, and informative. Londoners really liked their grisly entertainment. Back in the day, you’d gather the kids and head over to Tower Hill to watch the beheadings. I was surprised that ancient armor has been on display for hundreds of years. Apparently, impressing the public is important.
The MR got his fill of armor and weapons, and I enjoyed ogling the crown jewels. No pictures are allowed, so think egg-sized diamonds, giant gold punch bowls, golden sword scabbards encrusted with gems. It’s out of this world glitz.
I was impressed by the simple joy and energy found in open air markets such as Camden and Convent Garden. It was like the day after Thanksgiving with hoards of people everywhere when we visited Camden Market on a regular Sunday afternoon in October. Wandering the commercial district, we stumbled upon this lovely display.
This is the way to draw people in. Who wouldn’t want to buy flowers here? It happened to be part of Liberty of London—famous for their fabrics. We ended up eating lunch there, and then checking out the store. I love this display of paper flowers.
Me and the MR usually hit up the big attractions and then fall back on walking tours of our destination. The MR loves to walk and I’m the nerdy girl who likes facts and stories. The Soho tour took us through the “red-light” district, and past music history. We didn’t see a show, but we did see the Odeon, walked past Sir Paul McCartney’s offices, and past where Elton John lived when he wrote “Your Song.”
Sweet Miss’ Fella told me not to touch the guards at Buckingham Palace cause they might deck me. Hmm—apparently YouTube has a lot videos of that exact thing. Well, I like a dare, but I was lucky the guards were well out of reach on our visit.
If you’re visiting the palace, check out the schedule. The changing of the guard was only on even days when we were there, so they were safely out of reach beyond the fence.
I’ve always been an adventurous eater. When I was a kid, it was mostly to show up my brothers who would order hamburgers at the Chinese restaurant. Sometimes that’s served me well; sometimes not.
In London, of course I had to have some fish and chips at a pub. Unfortunately, it was just so-so. And if you are served the worst tasting guacamole ever with your fish, don’t worry, it might just be smashed peas. Who would have thought?
Me and the MR splurged on a nighttime dinner cruise on the Thames. We had a wonderful time, a great meal, nice music, and horrible photos. Rain, at night, on windows, in a moving boat doesn’t leave you with much.
Now for my tips and tricks for London.
- It will probably rain; be prepared.
- Wide-legged jeans may be trendy, but they will get wet, drag on the ground, and get ruined. Wear skinny jeans or pants—make that trousers if your british.
- The subway is your friend, and it’s not that hard even for people who have no idea what they’re doing. We bought two Oyster cards that took a chunk out of those 18,000 steps per day.
- Just because you’re both speaking English doesn’t mean you’ll understand each other. Have patience and a sense of humor.
- Check into those must sees ahead of time, particularly if your traveling off-season.
- Parliament is supposed to be even more ornate inside than it is outside—next time.
Don’t knock yourself out trying to see it all that first visit. Enjoy rugby world cup in a pub with excited locals. Dodge into the grocery store of royalty when the rain gets to be too much. Live a little.
I’d love to hear about your travel adventures? Any tips and tricks?