Guest Trip Report by Miles4Rebecca
Riding the Tube
We arrived in London on 12/24 and we were very tired. We had flown from SEA to FRA and then connected up to LHR. We took the Tube from the airport to our hotel. Matt had clearly done is research so we didn’t take the high speed train to central downtown: 1) it is a rip off in price 2) we would still have to transfer to get close to our hotel. The tube is incredibly easy to figure out and we had fun learning how to navigate while we were there. Sometimes it even served as a good hide out from the cold weather. One thing to note about the Tube is that it’s clean and well maintained and always on time. We have taken the Subway in NY and it is dirty and smelly down there so we were pliantly surprised how well kept the Tube is in London.
London Eye & More
When we made it to our hotel it took everything in us not to lay down and take a nap so we took an Uber to the London Eye. We had pre-purchased tickets to the London Eye as well as a river boat cruise. You have to go into the visitor center to get your physical tickets before you can get in line for the Eye. The line moves really fast because the London Eye never actually stops moving. Once on the London Eye we took plenty of pictures and enjoyed the views. The Eye moves pretty fast and it is a smooth ride. I would highly recommend it for first time visitors. It is the iconic thing to do, but I would not pay to do it again.
After the Eye, we went to our river boat cruise and by then the sun had set and it was pretty cold so we choose to sit inside. I think we would have seen more and enjoyed the cruise better if the sun was still up because it was hard to see some of the things the tour guide was pointing out in the dark. Regardless, it was fun to go under the Tower Bridge and see the Tower of London from the water.
Christmas Day in London
Our second day in London was Christmas Day and we went to church as Westminster Abbey. It was a once in a life time opportunity and it was a beautiful service. It meant more to us to be able to go to a service there than to go and pay to go in and take pictures like a tourist. It is a memory that we will always cherish. After church, we walked to Buckingham Place and took lots of pictures.
We continued on and walked to Trafalgar Square where we grabbed lunch from a café (literally this café was part of a chain and they were one of the only places open on Christmas day). We had a lot of fun strolling the streets of London. The whole city was decorated in lights and it was magical to walk around. We made dinner reservations on line for a place in London and we are very glad we did because there were few places were open and they were only taking people who made reservations. We had a lovely dinner and after dinner we actually met up with a friend of Matt’s who happened to be in London too. We had a drink with him at the hotel bar and then walked home to our hotel.
The day after Christmas is called Boxing Day in London and it is still a major holiday so all the museums were still closed. We did a walking tour through a company that we did a walking tour with in Madrid and again in Amsterdam. We have had great experiences on these tours and would recommend them to anyone going to a city where they have tours. The tour lasted 3 hours (this was the longest walking tour we’ve done) but our tour guide Becky was great. We walked and learned the history of 3 palaces in London.
Harrods and a Play
After our walking tour, we went up to go see Harrods. Harrods is a large department store in London. It was packed! Everyone was out doing their shopping on Boxing Day I guess. Literally imagine a Macy’s department store times 5 on top of each other. We only explored one floor and on that one floor we saw a food court, Lladro, bathing suits, souvenirs, and so much more. On one floor!
We were ready to go pretty fast and we went a found a cute little pub to eat fish n chips in. That night we went and saw a Broadway musical. We would highly suggest going and seeing a play or musical while you are in London. There are so many to choose from and it’s a fun experience. We saw In the Heights and we LOVED it! We were able to take the Tube to and from the theater and we had a great night out on the town.
Our third day was packed full of museums because this was our last full day in London and it was our first day we were able to go to museums because they were finally open again. We took the double decker bus to the British Museum and the ride was so much fun! We sat up on the top and it was fun to see the city from up there. Definitely ride the bus if you have the chance to. Their double decker buses are so iconic.
We got to the British museum about 30 minutes after it opened and there was hardly a line to get in but the museum filled up quickly. By the time we made it to the room where the Rosetta stone was, there was just a mass of people around it. We enjoyed the room with all the pieces from the Acropolis in Athens the most. There is only one British museum in the world so it was neat to be able to go, but someday when we go back we will check out the Churchill War Rooms because we heard so many people rave about that museum but we just didn’t have time to check it out on this trip.
Tower of London
After the British Museum we went to the Tower of London. Make sure you set aside at least 3 hours to spend at the Tower of London because there is so much to see there. It is more like a fortress than just a tower and we did the audio guide tour there and really loved walking the old cobblestone paths and learning the history of the tower. The tower is ran by docents who have served in the military and they actually live in the tower with their families.
One of my favorite parts of the tower was going into the chapel. It is quite small but honors the lives of many of the people who were killed in the tower and is one of the churches that is under the rule of the queen. The tower walls also have breathtaking views of the Tower Bridge. There was over an hour long line to see the crown jewels and so Matt and I made the decision that we didn’t care enough to stand in that line. All in all, we were there for just over 3 hours and if we would have waited to see that grown jewels it would have easily been more than a 4 hour adventure in the tower.
When we left the tower we wanted to walk over the Tower Bridge but we stopped at a Starbucks to have a snack and warm up. Walking over the bridge isn’t as exciting as seeing it from land but you do get a good view of the London Bridge. Which is kind of funny because the London Bridge is one of the plainest bridges I’ve ever seen. Many people make the mistake of thinking that the Tower Bridge is the London Bridge but in reality they are two very different bridges.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
The final thing we did in London was go to the Christmas market in London. This Christmas market was huge! They had shopping, rides, and so much food. We decided to go on one ride since we were there and Matt choose this roller coaster that had five upside down loops and a massive drop. It was really fun and slightly scary because who knows who sets those rides up but I’m glad we did it. We also ate donuts covered in melted chocolate and they were delicious! It was such a great way to spend our last night in London. If you go to London during Christmas you have to check out the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.
Overall, we had a lot of fun in London. There were a lot of tourists there though, which was a little surprising since it was Christmas. Maybe everyone else had the same idea that we did, travel during Christmas because other people won’t be traveling? The joke was on us then since everyone must have traveled to London. As we went further north on our trip there were fewer tourists and smaller crowds and that was much more relaxing for us. London is definitely worth checking out. Make sure you go to the Tower of London, try and go to the Churchill War Rooms (we wish we had), and learn how to take the tube!