I’ve been back from Europe for awhile now and trying to get back into work-life but let me just say that that was the greatest four weeks I could have ever asked for!
I left off on my first day in London and I spent four days wandering around the city ALONE which was a combination of nerve-wracking and exciting but I loved every minute.
My first day I changed and was ravenous for food and I found a healthy-looking spot on Yelp only to walk over to where it said it was located and not find it at all. The directions led me to London Paddington which was super modern and had a grassy area and lots of quick bites, so I settled for Pret-A-Manger and ate it among Londoners just going about their day. I was already falling in love!Post-lunch, I decided to go on a “quick stroll” which turned into a few hours in Hyde Park, a walk through the Princess Diana Memorial Garden, and me realizing that my cheap purse left a cross-body strap mark well, across my body. Back at my hotel, I took the free map that they gave me and marked all of the big spots I wanted to see and made walking paths for the next few days that would help me hit up as many as I could in my short amount of time there!
The next day I dedicated to around Oxford Street! I started off with brunch at Le Pain Quodtien then stopped by the marble arch on my way down Oxford Street. I was told by many to go into Selfridges so I took a peak in there and picked up a few souviners (but sadly no clothes, there was a huge sale and it was still way too much). I had lunch at The Windmill, went to Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square which I think is the London equivalent of Times Square, and Picadelly Circus to get myself back. I took a break from the heat, which I thought I was leaving in Orange County, and went to the insta-famous Churchill Arms for dinner.My third day there I was ready to hit up all of the big monuments but had to make a pit stop in Harrods for a new purse. Harrods was quite the shopping experience and getting through there confused yet amazed me. From there I walked to the Wellington Arch, Buckinham Palace and Victoria Memorial, Clarence House, St. James Palace, and walked through St. James Park to get to Westminster Abbey. It was there where I really saw London and all of the photos of it in real life. There was the Palace of Westminster, Big Ben, Parliament, and the Jewel Tower and just a stroll across the Westminster Bridge gets you to the London Eye. I was over there for a bit but then hopped on a train back to my hotel for afternoon tea!
Post-tea I went to St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London then walked across Tower Bridge to see The View from The Shard (get a discount with your student ID!) and enjoyed my last night in this beautiful city. As I left The Shard I walked through Borough Market and saw friends gathering at pubs for a drink then saw Shakespeare’s Globe all lit up! I crossed Millennium Bridge to get back to my hotel and saw St. Paul’s cathedral lit up across from me (I got a bit emotional here).
My four days in London were a perfect way to get myself used to the time difference and experience a place that I have always wanted to see but the real journey that took me to Europe was Contiki’s European Trail as my post-grad trip. The day I joined up with my Contiki group, I took my luggage over to the new hotel and made a pit-stop in the British Museum then met a friend for dinner at The Botantist in Sloane Square which was SO YUM. She also told me how to apply for a job so I can move there which sounds like a crazy, out pf the box idea, but now I’m seriously planning a move in three years. After dinner, I had to rush back to the first meeting for Contiki and we all stopped by a pub and Nandos for dinner and met all of the people I’ll be spending almost four weeks with.
Leaving London was rough but I was so excited for all of the other countries I was about to see.
- The View from The Shard was amazing, especially going pretty late and getting to see the sunset
- Eating at little pubs saved me money, wait time, and allowed me to experience food that isn’t just trendy or catered to the tourists
- I’ll make a reservation for tea at Sketch way ahead of time because they don’t allow same day reservations
- Be ready to spend a little extra cash to do more in-depth tours such as the Royal Mews
- My student ID (I know I graduated but let me enjoy it while I still look young) saved me a few pounds for a lot of attractions which I then spent at Zara
- Taking the time to really look at the free map and make walkig routes that wouldn’t have me going back and forth through the city saved me so much time and stress so I 100% recommend
- Get an Oyster Card for the Underground, it costs a bit more at first but you can return the card and get those five pounds back in the end
If you hate reading and skimmed this, totally fine because here it is in video form too…
If you’ve been to London, let me know your faves because I’m ready to go back!