In writing this post, my first plan was to split the trip into two parts. I realized we did SO much, that I have to split the trip into individual days. Hope you don’t get sick of hearing about London!
Anyway…what a week! Last Friday, we hopped on our first international flight together* and landed at London’s Heathrow Aiport on Saturday morning. Waking up on a different day in another country is fun!
Before I go any further with this post, I will preface by saying this was our first time going to London, and we didn’t know what to expect. We both had been looking forward to the trip for a long time, and knew we had a lot of ground to cover in only two days*.
*The main purpose of the trip was as babysitters; the wonderful and gracious family I babysit for brought me (& Taylor) along to take their three kids exploring while they worked Monday-Thursday during the day.
To say we enjoyed this city would be a massive understatement. We had a marvelous, delightful, lovely, fantastic and history-filled week. Leaving London was quite difficult, and we can’t wait to return…already looking at ways to get back there!
Here is some lingo we picked up:
- Loads (instead of a lot)
- Queue (instead of wait in line)
- Take-Away (instead of to-go)
- Nearly (instead of almost)
- Lovely (using it more often)
After we landed, we took the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station, and then Uber-ed to our hotel in Green Park. The hotel was about a five-minute walk to Buckingham Palace!
Per usual, our first step was to find food. On the suggestion of our virtual tour guides, Emily and Stephen (awesome friends from London that now live in NYC), we walked to the neighborhood of SoHo and found an outdoor cafe.
After lunch, we explored. And walked. And walked some more. Checking my phone pedometer, we walked over 8 miles on this afternoon alone!
After walking down Piccadilly and seeing a bit of the West End, we came upon Covent Garden. If you’re familiar with My Fair Lady: this is the area where Eliza sells her flowers at the beginning of the show (THEATER NERD ALERT). It was doubly cool because we had just seen the show at Lincoln Center a few days earlier!
We then crossed the Waterloo Bridge, which took us over the Thames River and into the neighborhood of Southbank.
The National Theatre, which was started by Laurence Olivier in 1963, is home to some of the most incredible performances in theatre history. However, as we learned later in the week, it was voted the ugliest building in London.
Coincidentally, as we walked along Southbank, there happened to be an art festival going on. The picture below is of an actor from the Masca Theater, which are a group of living statue and mime performers. About 12 different actors around the park were portraying “forgotten professions” of Paris, such as a box seller, pots and pans seller, etc. The best/weirdest one was this rat poison seller, which was prevalent during the time of the Plague (since the disease came from fleas which lived on rats). This dude was awesome, and sort of creepy.
SHAKESPEARE’S GLOBE! Although not the original building, which was burned down in 1613 because of a fire, still AWESOME! We have been on many trips throughout the U.S. that were based on seeing historical sites, but you cannot compare the amount of history in London. It was founded in 50 AD by the Romans…
Anyway, how cool to stand near the spot where Shakespeare created some of his masterpieces and where they were performed!
After seeing The Globe, we walked over the Millennium Bridge, which is only for pedestrians. If you know Harry Potter, it was the bridge destroyed by the Death Eaters in the Half-Blood Prince (again, NERD).
In the background, you can see the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral, where we went next!
As you can sort of tell by this picture (and some of the others), parts of London are a mix of old and new. In this example, a random office building in front of this beautiful church.
For any Mary Poppins fans (wow, this post is full of references), St. Paul’s is where Mary sings, “Feed the Birds”.
Early each day to the steps of Saint Paul’s
The little old bird woman comes
In her own special way to the people she calls
Come, buy my bags full of crumbs…
Somehow we got a bit off course and ended up in Trafalgar Square, which commemorates the British win at Trafalgar in the Napoleonic Wars in 1805 (blah, blah, blah history, I know). The person at the top of the large column is Admiral Horatio Nelson, who died at the battle.
Before going back to the hotel and passing out from exhaustion, we popped in to Fortum & Mason’s, a famous shop (dating back to 1707!) that we are weirdly obsessed with…but more detail on the store on Day Three…when we actually walked around inside!
Next up: Day Two-flowers, scones & towers, oh my!