Que tal mates? A couple weekends ago I spent the weekend in London with my Seville friends as well as President Obama. We discussed life over a nice cup of High Tea (afternoon tea) at the English Tea Room. Nah, I’m just kidding!
However, Obama and I touched down at the Stansted airport around the same time on April 21. It was my first UK visit and his latest. Upon arrival to the Kensington Palace, Obama was greeted by little Prince George in his pajama and robe ensemble who stayed up past his bedtime to shake the President’s hand.
Jackie, Kelsey, and I arrived at Eleni’s flat in North Kensington. Eleni is Jackie’s friend from school that was nice enough to let us three stay with her for three nights and show us around all of London. She recently finished her semester abroad in London! The first night we were all pretty conked from traveling and hit the hay early. Going to bed early requires waking up early, so the next morning we woke up around 8 and headed to the bus stop with our Oyster Cards. We were all ooing and awing over how neat the buses in London are because they are all two stories. We always tried to get the front top window seats for a nice view of the city.
The bus took us over to Notting Hill where we stopped to get breakfast at a cute organic cafe called Farm Girl. Notting Hill is an affluent district in west London, known for it’s colorful pastel houses. This is where the famous 1999 film, Notting Hill, was filmed. This is also where you can find the Portobello Road Market (YUM!). This is the world’s largest antique market with 1,000s of vendors and an immeasurable amount of collectibles. There is also an array of delicious street food ranging from chocolate eclairs to local cheeses. Mmmmm cheese, my favorite :). We spent a couple hours walking around the Portobello Road Market with a coffee in hand because it was a bit chilly.
Before heading to Harrods we ran into a London dog walker with three dogs. Okay, yes please can I take all 3?? I fell in love with a chubby English Bulldog. One of the black lab puppies somehow kept getting off his leash. I should of grabbed him and ran. Back to Harrods: Harrods is a very upscale, world-famous department store located at 87-135 Brompton Road Knightsbridge. It was definitely fun to check out, but I won’t be able to shop there for a few 100 years.
Later, we visited the Buckingham Palace. Happy 90th Birthday, Queen Elizabeth! We couldn’t go into the palace because the Queen was home, but Eleni said the Queen goes on vacation and that’s when people can tour parts of the palace. The palace is lined with elaborate black and gold gates and is made up of 775 rooms. 78 of those rooms are bathrooms. The palace was built in 1705 as the Town house of the Duke of Buckingham.
Next, our lovely tour guide took us to Big Ben in Westminster, London. I was on cloud nine when I realized the umbrella I brought to this rainy city perfectly matched to my cheetah shoes. I made a few quick phone calls in the telephone booth before we headed to the tube ;).
What’s next on the agenda? Camden Pub Crawl.
As most people know, drinks/ going out in London can be very very pricey. We decided to do a Pub crawl that took us to 4 bars (which were all super cool) that cost 17₤ including one free drink at every bar. I would recommend doing this one night. The last stop was KOKO which is now a club, but use to be the Camden Palace from 1982-2004. There’s A LOT of history here. I mean it’s been around for 116 years.
I was in London for 3 nights/4 days and I only spent 125₤. Most of the money went towards food, theater ticket, pub crawl, and transportation. I spent very little money on food. We made dinner two nights and breakfast one morning. There are soooo many activities/ things to see in London for free. Yes, London is expensive, but there are ways to spend consciously and make the most of your trip!
Vale, onwards. I hear a knock at the door and there’s Austin! Austin is my good friend from Mizzou who is studying abroad in Manchester. He came to visit me in London for the day and wander the city with my friends. First stop of the morning: Borough Market aka London’s most renowned food market. The market is not only full of amazing food, but amazing people from all over the UK, Europe, and other parts of the world. Smells of baking cheese and a fresh variety of fish took over my senses. This was my time to overindulge. I got a delicious goat pita and split a slice of raspberry cheesecake and a berry smoothie with Austin.
For more information on the Borough Market, check out the link I provided or http://ohhappyeats.com ,<– my friend’s travel food blog. & she’s studying abroad in London!
After our bellies were full to capacity, we trekked over to The Tate Modern (free). This is a modern art gallery located in London. It’s a large museum that offers many events and exhibitions.
We got to walk across the London Bridge and the elaborate Tower Bride. On the other side we had a mini photoshoot where Antonella greatly struggled getting on and off the ledges.
Have you ever been to a musical in London?
If you want to buy tickets the day of, it’s super easy. Take the tube over to Leicester Square and pick one of the many “tkts booths”. The booths are open Monday-Saturday 10am-7pm and Sunday 11am-4pm. We bought tickets for an evening show- “Guys and Dolls” for 26₤, which is really good. The play was a.w.e.s.o.m.e. It was definitely one of my favorite things I did during my weekend in London. You can dress up if you want, but you don’t have to.
One regret: not seeing the Parent Trap house. I came home to Seville and watched the movie and cried at least 10 times. Not sure what’s happened to me since being over in Europe, but damn could I cry more?!
One sad face emoji: not seeing my friend Emily Smallwood from Mizzou. Emily studied abroad in London and her program ended the weekend I went to visit. A postcard is on the way to you! 🙂
To wrap up… London was one of my favorite trips. Beforehand, I really didn’t think it would be much different from the US, but it is. There’s a lot of history and culture in London and it’s very relaxing. The weather isn’t always sunshine and butterflies, but it’s a cool place to visit. I could see myself working in London at some point in my life. If you get the chance, VISIT!!
“Please mind the gap”