Over Thanksgiving, my mom and I went on an incredible 11-day trip to Europe! Over the next few weeks, I’m going to post trip recaps for each country we traveled to – Iceland, England, Spain and Ireland. Our second stop was London.
Our trip to London was brief, but our main purpose for going was to see my cousin Erin! She’s currently pursuing her Master’s degree at a school in England so she met us in London for the weekend.
Out all the airports of our entire trip, customs at London Heathrow took the absolute LONGEST! If you’re traveling to England, keep this in mind. Because of this, we didn’t get to our AirBNB until early afternoon. We took the tube everywhere. It was so efficient and easy to get everywhere we needed to go!
Our AirBNB wasn’t anything special, but it was a convenient location and was inexpensive. We were only a few blocks from a tube stop. The downside was we were on the 3rd floor of an elevator-less building so we had to lug our heavy suitcases up all those stairs. But hey, it was our workout for the day! The room was tiny – a bunk bed studio with a kitchenette and bathroom. But again, it was all we needed for our short stay in London.
By the time we got settled in, the sun had already begun to set and most things were closing down. We decided to walk around Kensington Palace (unfortunately we did NOT see the royals) and found our way to Hyde Park.
Little did we know that there was a Winter Wonderland festival going on!
We spent some time wandering the markets, grabbing crepes and German beer, listening to music and taking in the festival. We were pretty tired from an early morning and knew we had a busy next day, so we went back after the festival to get some shuteye.
If someone awarded a record for number of tourist attractions one could hit in London in one day, we would win.
Abbey Road Studios
I am a HUGE Beatles fan so this was a MUST SEE on my London list. When my uncle went, he lucked out and got a tour of the studios, but we didn’t have such luck. However, I did get my stereotypical walking across Abbey Road picture.
221b Baker Street
Erin is a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, so we also made a stop by 221b Baker Street, aka the home of Sherlock Holmes.
Green Park was absolutely beautiful to walk through on a rare sunny day in London!
Once we got to Buckingham Palace, there were so many people that we didn’t get too close to the gates, but we did see the beginning of the changing of the guard.
London is one of the most diverse cities in the world and I loved hearing the multitudes of languages as we were walking through Trafalgar Square!
National Gallery & National Portrait Gallery
Since my cousin is a Museum Studies student, she suggested we go check out some of the museums on the Square. The National Gallery was absolutely breathtaking to see such famous works of art like Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and Monet’s The Water-Lily Pond.
Photography wasn’t allowed in the National Portrait Gallery, but Erin gave us a great personal tour about the history of England and of the royal family! This trip definitely renewed my interest in British history, so I started The Crown on Netflix when I returned.
The Lion King
With my birthday in January and Erin’s in December, we started a tradition a few years ago where we’d either go to a show or a hockey game to celebrate our birthdays and Christmas together. This year, we were able to keep up the tradition by seeing The Lion King in the West End!
It was AMAZING. I quickly forgot that the actors were even people- you get wrapped up in the costumes and staging. The Lion King is one of my favorite Disney movies and it was so cool to finally see it live.
Platform 9 3/4
Erin and I are total Harry Potter nerds, so it worked out that we had to drop her at a train for her to travel back to school. After waiting in line for what felt like ever, we finally got our picture!
I’m really glad we were able to see Erin and spend time with her! She’s abroad for a year (and maybe longer if she gets a job!) and I know it’s hard being away from home that long. While the rest of the world doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, we had our own Thanksgiving holiday with her.
London was a really cool city, however it wasn’t my favorite city I’ve ever been to. But don’t get me wrong, I’d love to visit England again and see more of the countryside and am glad I went to London!