My First Time in London & How I saw the Best of the UK’s Capitol in Two Days
This past weekend I took my first big trip out of Lincolnshire, and my first trip to London! Through my study abroad program, there are organized and chaperoned trips every weekend that students can sign up for. For most of the semester, I will be traveling independently of the school and with my friends. I’m not particularly interested in having someone else plan and organize my travel. That being said, I have heard from past Harlaxton students that the London trip on the first weekend is a must. It ended up being such a blast! It was especially great because most of the school goes so you get to meet lots of new people. We all had so much fun and I managed to see almost everything I wanted to in only two days! Here’s how:
London is such a big city, and after doing research I was overwhelmed with the idea of trying to fit everything in. Much to my surprise, I managed to see almost everything I wanted to in only three short days!
We did the touristy things, explored the well known areas of the city, did some shopping, a museum, ate some good food, and still had time to explore on our own.
Writing everything out, I decided to make two seperate posts since our days were so long and we did so much! Day one was spent exploring the touristy landmarks and well-known areas of the city, while on day two we did some shopping and discovered some of the less-popular areas.
London Day One
We arrived late Thursday night and were able to get a pretty early start on Friday morning. The nice thing about this trip was that our school paid for the bus & hotel and dropped us off with free rein for the weekend!
The first thing we did on Friday morning was head for Fiona’s. Fiona’s is a restaurant that was recommended to us by a professor from back home who has been to Europe many times. Fiona’s is in the Kensington area, so we quickly figured out the metro system to get there from our hotel, which is located in Saint Pancras in North London. Kensington is such a beautiful area! The area is full of double-decker busses, classic tall, white, skinny, English-looking homes, and beautiful churches. On our way to Fiona’s, we walked right past The Churchill Arms, which was an amazingly beautiful building. The restaurant is also not far from Hyde Park and the Parent Trap house!
We made it to Fiona’s, and had one of the best English breakfasts I’ve ever had. I will definitely be taking my family back here when we return in a few months. Talk about a happy tummy.
Next, we walked to Buckingham Palace & Elizabeth Tower, home to Big Ben. To get there from Kensington was about an hour walk, but we were able to walk through Hyde Park and make a few scenic and photo-op stops along the way. The park had a lot to do, and I’m sure it is an amazing place to go in the summer.
Buckingham & Ben
Buckingham palace was gorgeous. We did not go inside or get to see the changing of the guards. I’m sure these would have been really great things to do but, the area was crowded so we just took our pictures and left.
The Elizabeth tower and Big Ben were the same way. I am so glad I got to see both of these iconic monuments, but the area was crowded and we did not end up going into the tower or spending a ton of time there. This was perfectly fine with me, as the “touristy” places aren’t really my thing anyway!
So there are telephone booths all over London. But, on the corner of Parliament Street and Great George Street in Parliament Square, there is a phone booth that is the perfect photo-op to get a picture with the Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben behind you. When we were there, there was a line, but we only needed to wait about ten minutes to get our shot. So worth it!
After our morning of touristy-exploring, we went out to explore a few other well-known areas of London that we had heard of through our Pinterest research we did beforehand. The first place we headed to was Covent Garden.
Covent Garden is one of my favorite parts of London. It is less crowded than many other areas, but still has loads of shopping and restaurants, including Milk Train and Laduree. If you haven’t heard of Milk Train and Laduree, go look them up. Foodie heaven.
Milk Train is the place you always see on Instagram with the gorgeous “cloud ice cream”. Unfortunately, Milk Train was under temporary construction while we were there. I think we all shed a tear or two. Thankfully, I will be returning to London at least two or three more times this semester, and Milk Train will be first on my to-do list.
Luckily we found Laduree to make up for our lack of cloud ice cream. I didn’t even realize there was a Laduree in London until we stumbled upon it. Laduree is THE place to get macarons in Europe. It is one of the world’s most well-known and best selling pastry shops. The shop was tiny, but gorgeous. I got myself six delicious macaroons that came in an adorable little box. Although it was a little pricy it was well worth it.
After Covent Garden, my friends and I ventured to King’s cross. King’s Cross is one of London’s main railway and metro stations, and also the location of Platform 9 and 3/4. My fellow Harry Potter fans can probably guess how much I geeked out.
Platform 9 and 3/4 at King’s Cross is basically a tiny amusement park attraction. There’s the shopping cart built into the wall, you can wait in line and put on scarves and accessories to jump in front of the cart with a fan blowing your hair to take a super awesome picture.
Afterwards, there’s a giant Harry Potter store right next door. Next to Harry Potter World in London (which unfortunately was sold out when we were there- apparently you need to plan far in advance to go there) this was the next best thing.
After a hour of being a Harry Potter nerd, we took the metro to Camden Town for dinner. Camden Town is a very cool and urban area. So much fun. There are street vendors lining the street selling food and t-shirts, there was live music, and lots of very eclectic shops and restaurants. We found a place called Buck’s Head, which was a super cool pub with a big menu, lots of interesting food, and good drink deals. It was delicious! Camden Town had lots of street vendors too. It would be a great place to return to shop and get street food.
By the end of our first day in London, we were pretty tired. We had done so much! I was so glad we got to see so much of the city. We were looking forward to day two and shopping and exploring more smaller areas of the city.
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