On November 24, 2015, we arrived in London at 7:25pm. From the airport, we had to take the bus and subway in order to get to our hotel. By the time we had settled down into our new room, we decided to call it a night. We had after all, been traveling around earlier that day in Vienna (read about that trip here).
The next morning we started bright and early (as early as we could at least). Issue is, we realized we were quickly running out of clean clothes to wear. It was time for us to do laundry. Luckily there was a laundry mat nearby, and we were able to drop off our clothes for the day.
Once we got the laundry out of the way, we set off! Breakfast time at Fortnum & Mason. If you haven’t been there before, it’s a huge department store with a ton of luxury gifts, foods, and more. I ended up grabbing a scone for a quick and easy bite.
We basically munched on our food as we wandered our way over to Buckingham Palace to view the changing of the guards. The guards change over every day at 11:30, but they start to arrive along with music around 11:15. It was super packed if you stand up around the fence, I’d recommend watching from the center fountain instead.
After we took some photos in front of the golden gates and strolled around the nearby park for a bit. By then, it was already lunch time, so we ate at Shoryu Ramen. I loved their tea pot, the atmosphere, and the food for the most part. Doesn’t beat Japan or LA, but I’d definitely go back again.
Our next stop after lunch was a happy accident. We stubbled upon World Press Photos at the Southbank Centre, which featured a number of stunning photographs that were both insightful and inspiring.
Walking through London was quite exciting. There were lots of little events going on every turn we took, such as carnivals and performances.
Eventually we made our way over to the London Eye. Then we crossed the bridge over to Big Ben. I’ve watched so much of Doctor Who over the years, that I can’t help but get very excited about these iconic sights in London.
Right across the street was Westminster Abbey. We were too cheap to pay the fee to go inside, so we only got a chance to admire it from outside. Next time! When my husband isn’t with me, I’ll go in. He was too churched out from all of the other churches during our trip.
To change up the pace a bit, we took a stroll around Notting Hill, to see how the rich and famous in London live.
We also enjoyed some afternoon tea at Gail’s. Afternoon tea is perhaps one of my favorite past times, period. I can probably do it everyday, forever. Too bad it’s so hard for me to find peace and quiet when I’m not on vacation!
After tea time, we went on a very very long walk through Kensington Garden. Although the garden was beautiful, the sun was starting to set and it was quickly becoming horribly cold. Being the Californian girl that I am, I was not dressed right for the night time weather. However, we continued trekking along side the water looking at swans as we made our way over to Hyde Park for Winter Wonderland!
Winter Wonderland has got to be one of my favorite seasonal events that I went to in Europe. It had everything from rides, great food, beers, ice skating, and the best German entertainment.
This was perhaps the closest thing to Oktoberfest that I’ve experienced (or at least how I imagined it to be like). The performers would get everyone in the audience to lift up their steins and sway them back and forth to some German cheers-ing. It was so, much, fun!!!
The night was long and cold, but extremely fun. We ended up winning this teddy from one of the carnival games. A teddy that did make it back with us to America, but unfortunately, he ended up getting thrown out because I would coddle him too much in bed and the husband got jealous. Kidding, but not kidding.
The next morning we swung by to pick up our finished laundry. That’s when I got to snap some photos with the beloved Tardis located at Earl’s Court Station! It blows my mind that people are so used to it as they walk down the street past the Tardis. I would absolutely love to have a Tardis local within my neighborhood, haha, if only.
For breakfast, we met up with our friend Amy at The Riding House. She was kind enough to find some time during her day to come out and have a meal with us. Definitely one of the sweetest girls you’ve ever met, plus I adore her accent.
For my entrée, I opted for a traditional English breakfast, since I never had it before. To me, it’s such a strange mix of foods, but it’s not all that bad. Given the chance, I’d probably try it again if I was starving.
With full tummies, we said goodbye to our friend Amy and proceeded over to King’s Cross Station to see Harry Potter’s Platform 9¾.
Okay, now here comes the embarrassing story. I actually thought that Platform 9¾ would be located between platforms 9 and 10. So we paid to enter the train station and actually walked over to the platforms. Of course, we found nothing. Sad part is that we had to pay to exit and had the hardest time ever trying to get our ticket fees adjusted (I don’t think we were ever successful either).
To my dismay, Platform 9¾ was located in plain sight right smack in the middle of the station. They offer scarfs from each house to borrow for photo purposes, and even have someone to hold the end of the scarf to make it look like you’re moving fast!
Such a touristy spot, but also a must do for any Harry Potter fan.
Our next destination brought us to Camden Town (and Market).
This is my favorite spot in London. The vibe of the area fit me just right, and I liked the variety of shops and foods. The area and people totally had a hipstery punk feel to it.
After Camden Town, we tried going to a few better known afternoon tea spots, but most of them required reservations and typically closed by 3pm. We ended up back at another Gail’s.
At night, we walked around Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, and SoHo. We did some window shopping, but didn’t actually buy anything.
Unsure of how to spend the rest of our night, we ended up grabbing beers at a bar. The bar was quite small, but 3 stories tall! And the cool bit is that it had a pulley for the servers to use to bring beer up to the top level. Now that’s some Home Alone type of sh*t.
For dinner, we found ourselves inside of Chinatown and decided to go for some hot pot. Bad idea, the AYCE hotpot veggies and meat were not fresh at all. We totally felt gross, but still went along with it anyways. We should have known better.
To end the night, we met up with one of my old high school girlfriends, Sandra. She happened to also be traveling around Europe at the same time, and this was the only day we overlapped in London. We had to make it happen!
We found ourselves at Evans and Peel Detective Agency. If you’re ever in London, this is another place that I highly recommend checking out. The concept of it was so much fun, especially because I had no idea what was going on.
When we arrived at the entrance to the bar, I was confused because there were no windows and only a door with the name of the bar, door bell, and security camera. In addition, it was completely quiet inside.
I thought to myself, are we really at the right place?
Upon ringing the doorbell, a strange man answered on the intercom. Him and my husband exchanged some dialogue that made no sense to me, but it worked and we were buzzed in. That’s when we found ourselves inside of a detective agency’s office, with no visible door to a bar.
Before I could figure out what exactly was happening, my husband began telling the detective about being followed in the streets by some shifty looking men. Both of them were so into this story and role playing that I nearly believed all of it! Then the detective started harassing myself and my friends with questions about the story, I was awkward and not great at playing along.
Thankfully the detective accepted us and revealed behind one of the walls, a hidden speak easy bar. Oh what an adventure!
So do yourself the favor, next time you’re in London, take your friends here and don’t tell them where it is that you’re going. It’ll be fun.
This bar was the last place we went to while in London. The next morning, we packed are bags and set off for our next adventure Paris.
London is by far one of my favorite cities. I’m not sure what it is about London, but I can totally see it as somewhere that I’d be able to live and not get tired of. There’s so much to do there. We didn’t have enough time to see everything we wanted to see, but no worries, I know for sure that I’ll be back again another day.
Have you ever been to London? What is your favorite city that you’ve been to? Thanks for reading!