There is so much to see and do in London. So I’ll just show you the highlights of my visit in the city with a lot of pictures!
We stayed the first few nights in Camden where this puppy woke us up each day. It’s always nice to be near pet animals while traveling for that feeling of being home. Even though I don’t own any animals myself, it still gives me a comforting feeling to be around pets, especially dogs. I also decided that one thing I must purchase immediately once I’m settled are a kettle like this one, which heats up SO much faster than my old fashioned kettle on the stove.
We did some looking around at ate at The Stables Market in Camden. It was so charming and fun to explore all of the little shops.
We also did the Sandeman’s NewEurope Tour that started from Covent Garden. We went past the National Gallery, through Trafalgar Square, through St. James’s Park to the Victoria Memorial and Buckingham Palace, over to House Guard’s Parade, past 10 Downing Street, and on to Westminster Abbey, the Parliament Building and to Elizabeth Tower (that houses the bell Big Ben). We went back later in the day to take in the free church service at Westminster Abbey, which happens at 5:00 PM each day. It was so beautiful inside, although photography wasn’t allowed. The sound of the choir was magnificent and it was one of my favorite moments from our time in London.
It was really interesting hearing all of the history and I highly recommend the Sandeman’s tours as the stories of Europe’s history seem to weave into one another, and hearing the same history told from each country’s perspective is really interesting! The rest of the time I stayed in Kensington and spent time just bumming around the town and buying sweaters and a wool coat to cope with the weather. It wasn’t cold by Minnesota standards, but the biting wind reduced the temperature to around 35°F (2°C). These temps were too much to spend a lot of time sightseeing outdoors without a proper winter coat and a wool sweater (or three). I did learn about a store called Primark though which is really handy for inexpensive clothes that you wouldn’t mind having to give away later that are also trendy. I went to see the Tower Bridge, Regent’s Park, and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Even though I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this time of year for a vacation to London, the parks were still exquisite even without everything in bloom. I’ll definitely have to make it back in the summer to see these places at the peak of their beauty.
I also connected with a friend I met in Dublin to take in some really amazing Indian food at Masala Zone, and went to the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Tate Modern museum and walked around more at Big Ben and by the London Eye and ate in Piccadilly Circus. The museums are free although there are signs and boxes saying to “Please donate £3 ,$4, or €3”. The V&A museum was really well done and you could probably spend three days there to see everything, but they had some great exhibits that we were able to enjoy. I wasn’t as impressed with the Tate Modern though it’s always funny to look at modern art and try to come up with explanations for why people produce what they do as art. I’d find those types of museums much more interesting if they had a description or explanation for each piece, though some would probably tell me the whole point is to interpret art from your own perspective. I may have just been tired of museums though because we had seen a lot prior to going to the Tate.
I also went to Harrods, which was also a lot to take in after seeing all the museums in one day. I recommend it though because the escalators move at the same rate as the Nile River, the food halls are cool to check out, and there is a Princess Diana memorial that has the ring that Dodi Fayed was presumably going to propose to her with at the lower level. Though I really can’t shop too much unless out of necessity, I used the opportunity to check out the Oakley Airwave goggles that have GPS, speed monitoring, digital mapping of the mountain you are skiing, and phone syncing so you can receive messages and calls, and listen to music through the goggles. See more about them here. I won’t be buying them here, and I might have to wait for a smaller version since they were pretty big, but I’m definitely putting them on my to buy list for future ski trips!