- Intro to Ireland/UK Trip 2014
- Part 1: Pre-vacation vacation in Boston
- Part 2: Dublin and Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Hotel
- Part 3: Galway (The G Hotel), Connemara, and the Cliffs of Moher
- Part 4: Dingle and the Dingle Peninsula
- Part 5: Killarney National Park and Muckross Park Hotel & Cloisters Spa
- Part 6: London, UK
I feel as if I have been waiting half a lifetime to return to London. And when I do the math, that’s actually almost accurate. Scary! Anyway, this trip to London has been long-awaited and when we booked our Ireland trip, I knew it had to include a London portion because one of my good friends and former college roommate lives there with her husband and kids. Alex and I decided to spend a long weekend (3 nights and 3 days) in London at the tail end of our trip. It was quite a whirlwind, but we saw a lot and had a very memorable time!
After night one at Ashley and Mark’s house, we woke up and took the train into London to see some sights. Since we had limited time and everything in London is extremely expensive, we did our own walking tour by all of the sights rather than actually visiting everything. We started at the South Bank and saw the London Eye, Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey. From there, we walked to St. James Park, Buckingham Palace, and Green Park. After stopping at the famous Fortnum & Mason (Queen Elizabeth and Duchess Kate privately visited the store in 2012 on an official visit) for some tea and treats, we walked to Piccadilly Circus where we ate lunch at Zedel Brasserie. Zedel Brasserie is a Parisian bistro located underground in a beautiful room decorated in the Art Deco style. It is a large and open space that doesn’t feel as if it is underground because of the brightly backlit windows. The food was delicious and it was a great place to stop for lunch.
After lunch we walked over to the British Museum, an incredibly vast collection of world art and historical artifacts. The museum is enormous and could probably take several days if you looked at everything. We saw the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles, and one of my favorite areas: the mummy exhibit. An interesting and controversial fact about the British Museum is that it contains many artifacts that were previously stolen from other countries and has been a target of criticism and many demands to return the artifacts. At least for now, the British Museum is able to keep these items.
After spending quite a lot of time exploring the British Musuem, Alex and I relaxed with drinks with Ashley and Mark at Covent Garden, a great area full of food and drink options. We then walked through Leicester Square to Soho, where we had dinner at trendy restaurant Balans. Balans in Soho is located near the Theater District. If you were planning to see a show, it would be a great place for pre-theater dinner or post-theater drinks. After Balans, we went for Pimms Cups and pints at Three Crowns pub before calling it a night.
On our second day in London, we opted to drive into the city because we wanted to check off some “London bucket list” items. Our first stop was to the famous department store, Harrod’s. Harrod’s is one of the few things I remember from my first trip to London in high school, but I certainly did not recall the expanse of the store. You can buy nearly anything at Harrod’s and it is all of the highest quality. The store is ornate and beautiful and I had fun just looking around in all of the rooms. After about half an hour at Harrod’s, we left to drive through Hyde Park.
Next, we drove to Leadenhall Market to see a filming location from the Harry Potter series. If you are a fan, you will remember that Leadenhall Market was used to represent the area of London near The Leaky Cauldron and Diagon Alley in the first Harry Potter film.
After picking up lunch at a local sandwich chain, Pret a Manger, we drove to Abbey Road to see the famous crosswalk used in the on the cover of the Beatles’ album with the same name. As a lifelong Beatles fan, this was very cool for me to see, albeit very touristy. It was difficult to even get a good picture because so many people were trying to recreate the photo!
Next we drove to Kings Cross Station to see another Harry Potter highlight, Platform 9 3/4, where students board the Hogwarts Express each year to get to Hogwarts. I managed to sneak a photo, but it turned out to be a tourist trap with a big line to actually take a photo pushing the cart into the wall. I’ve since read online that if you go to the station after 10pm, you can avoid the line and take your own photo shoot.
Finally, we went to Camden Market and Stalls, my friends’ favorite market in London. Camden Market is quite eclectic and unique and draws a punk/alternative crowd. We had such a fun time shopping around, especially at Cyberdog, the rave and club wear store. We also enjoyed people watching while smoking hookah. We ended the day at Camden with drinks at The Elephant Head before heading to Edgewater for dinner at Maroush. Maroush is a traditional Lebanese restaurant in an area of London that has the most residents of Middle Eastern descent outside of the Middle East. We opted to share several mezza items and enjoyed a delicious Lebanese feast that was topped off with a huge plate of fruit for dessert. It was a fantastic meal and I highly recommend a trip to Maroush if you are in London!
On our last day in London, we drove with Mark, Ashley, and their daughters to Windsor Castle. It was a wonderful experience and wasn’t too crowded because most tourists choose to visit Buckingham Palace rather than drive to Windsor. The highlights of our visit were seeing Queen Mary’s dollhouses and reading letters written by members of the royal family. I particularly enjoyed reading Queen Elizabeth’s diary entry about her mother’s coronation. After a day spent at the castle, we all enjoyed a traditional English lunch (with more fried brie!) at The Horse and Groom Pub before heading to the airport to return to London.
All in all we had a wonderful visit and hope to return again one day! Next up on the blog: visits to Chicago and North Carolina!
Zedel Brasserie, 20 Sherwood St, London W1F 7ED
Balans Soho, 60-62 Old Compton St, London W1D 4UG
Maroush, 21 Edgware Road London W2
The Horse and Groom Pub, Castle Hill – Windsor – SL4 1PD
Three Crowns, 19 Babmaes Street, Piccadilly, London, SW1Y 6HD
The Elephant Head, 224 Camden High St, London NW1 8QR
London Eye, Riverside Bldg, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Rd, London SE1 7PB
Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA
Westminster Abbey, 20 Deans Yd, London SW1P 3PA
St. James Park/Green Park
Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA
British Museum, Great Russell St, London WC1B 3DG
Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Rd, London SW1X 7XL
Leadenhall Market, Gracechurch Street, London EC3V 1LR
Abbey Road, 3 Abbey Rd, London NW8 9AY
Kings Cross Station, Euston Road, London N1 9AP
Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 1NJ
Fortnum & Mason, 181 Piccadilly, London W1A 1ER
Camden Market and Stalls, Camden High St, London NW1 8NH