Hello! Hope you are having an amazing weekend! I am currently on my honeymoon, which is actually celebrating our one-year anniversary. We are tripping all over Europe, and Iâ€™m documenting it on the blog, hopefully to share tips with anyone who wants to make a similar trip (or if you donâ€™t have five weeks, one of these shorter trips)! The first leg of the journey was a brief stopover in Iceland, which you can read about here! The second part has just ended, which was three days in London! Thatâ€™s also four nights, which covers the first full week of our journey!
In my blog about our trip to Iceland, I began it with some general recommendations, and I will do the same for London!
1. If you havenâ€™t been to Europe, hereâ€™s another reminder that you need to get an adapter for anything you wish to plug in. We got this one* and this one*, and they have worked in both the UK and Iceland so far!
2. If you are getting the London Pass (which we did for one day), it is best to plan ahead and schedule things for an order that makes sense both with the hours of the attraction and the geographical location it is in London. We found that a lot of our time in London was spent traveling across town, partially because we didnâ€™t structure our trips so that we did things that were right near each other. This is especially important, however, with the London Pass, because you want to make sure that you actually get at least the full value of the pass with the attractions you see! Youâ€™ll see in the narrative of our trip below that we got a later start than planned, and almost paid more for the London Pass than we would have had we just paid individually for each thing!
3. If you are traveling with friends, family, or a loved one (basically, as long as you are traveling with another adult) to a few places (or want to stay in a few parts of the city) and are open to the idea of an Airbnb, I recommend having multiple people pay for the Airbnb* stays. The reason for this is that Airbnb* offers a referral reward (which is what I keep linking to, so if you havenâ€™t stayed in an Airbnb* yet, I recommend checking it out!). Person #1 on the trip can book the first one, and person #2 can book the second using person #1â€™s referral link. Once someone uses the link, they get a discount on their first booking. After the trip is complete, the person whose link was used gets a $20 credit for the next one! So… Feel free to start with my link if no one in your party has booked an Airbnb before, and then start a chain of referrals with your travel group to save a bit of cash for something a bit more fun on your trip, or more luxurious accommodations!
4. This may seem self-serving, counter-intuitive, and/or like I am preaching to the choir, but use blogs! Yelp doesnâ€™t seem to be as popular outside of the US, so going into the blog results on google has been very helpful, both for food and for experiences! For example, even though we arenâ€™t huge fans of fried food, we thought it was important to try local cuisine. So, of course, we wanted to get fish & chips. When we initially used google to find “the best fish n chips in London,” local fast food type places came up. Thatâ€™s not how Tommy and I generally operate, so we dug a little deeper and found a place that makes fish n chips that uses duck fat and sustainably caught fish. Thatâ€™s much more our speed! So, in case youâ€™re here by mistake or because youâ€™re my friend, remember blogs when youâ€™re planning! Anyone else reading this is already hip to this tip (and hopefully cool with dorky rhymes)! ðŸ˜œ
5. Share your food! If youâ€™re like us, one of the best parts of traveling is letting your tastebuds explore! While it may be tempting to have everyone order different meals for themselves, Tommy and I have loved sharing one meal (and sometimes an appetizer, extra side, or dessert) at each restaurant, so we can try more restaurants! I guess (depending on who youâ€™re with) you can also get multiple entrees and share as well, but since there are just two of us, we have been able to do more restaurant-hopping this way, which has been really fun!
6. Get an Oyster card, and fill it as you go! The recommendation for 3-4 days wasÂ£40, but we each put Â£20 on, and only had to add Â£5 and still have leftover! Part of this is because on day two, we used the London Pass to take part in a Big Bus Tour, which we doubled as transportation for most of the day. Better to have to refill the card than to leave London with a ton of money you canâ€™t use on the card!
Again, like the Iceland blog, I will begin with a few of my favorite experiences from this portion of our three days in London part of our trip!
I must confess before I give these recommendations two things that may cloud my judgment, and may make my opinions more or less valuable to you, depending on how they align with yours.
1. I have never really been extremely interested in London.
2. I generally prefer immersive cultural experiences over tourist-y attractions.
That being said (or, again, typed), my favorite parts of London were window-shopping a bit in boutiques (particularly on Old Bond street, which is the UKâ€™s answer to Rodeo Drive and Fifth Avenue), afternoon tea, an Indian restaurant near Brick Lane, and seeing the Crown jewels! My favorite meals were the aforementioned Indian, fish & chips, as well as a French-inspired English breakfast that Tommy and I shared, which youâ€™ll learn more about below!
Ok, hereâ€™s the chronological rundown of our three days in London for those of you who arenâ€™t just here for the tips! Again, like the Iceland post, I will share the videos compiled from our Instagram stories first, too!
We arrived at Gatwick airport from Reykjavik on Sunday night. By the time we got to the Airbnb we were staying at in Vauxhall, it was pretty late! Itâ€™s funny - being Angelenos now, we have gotten quite accustomed to having access to any food we want pretty much at just about any hour of the day. We didnâ€™t expect to have so many options in Reykjavik, but that small city stays up late! In the opposite way, we were really surprised by how few restaurants were open late on a Sunday night in London, or at least the part of London in which we stayed! That said (well, typed!), the closest open option that wasnâ€™t fast food was an Ethiopian restaurant, so thatâ€™s how we began our London Adventure!
It was a great experience, and Iâ€™m so glad we had that happy accident! We were pretty tired after that, so we went back to our room and went to sleep!
This is vacation, so no alarms were set - isnâ€™t that a beautiful thing?
We were so blessed to have the perfect Airbnb host and location for our three days in London - he got us buddy passes to his gym, which was downstairs from his apartment! So, knowing that we were going to be eating less healthily than usual on vacation, and not knowing when weâ€™d have good gym access again, we started our day at The Gym. Yes, thatâ€™s what itâ€™s called!
We didnâ€™t have the opportunity to do as much research ahead of time for this trip as we may have liked, so our next objective was to get from Vauxhall, where we were staying, over to Central London where all the action is, so we took the tube to Trafalgar Square!
Tommy is a bit of a coffee snob, and we wanted to take advantage of some WiFi action, so we walked around a bit and then headed to Flat White, in hopes of using their WiFi to solidify our London (and then Scotland) plans while caffeinating ourselves. Their WiFi was acting a bit dodgy (words of the barista!), so we had some granola with milk we bought from a random farmerâ€™s market, and just researched our very next objective - a post-workout Fish n Chips!
As mentioned above, we utilized some blogs to determine that our best choice would be Golden Union, because we try to avoid rancid oils, and you know I love sustainability! Golden Union uses a combination of duck fat and palm oil (hopefully sustainably-farmed without danger to orangutans), sustainably-caught fish, and changes the oil in their fryers eight times per week, so it seemed like a high quality choice, and it was - delicious!
Since it was getting a bit late for coffee and we still needed our WiFi fix, we headed to the London Cocktail Club, for an Old Fashioned and then a craft cocktail made by a bartender we befriended that was Wimbeldon-themed and included egg whites and wheatgrass! It was here we caught up on a bit of email and social media, and did some research to plan our next moves! While there, one of Tommyâ€™s colleagues from USC sent him a doughnut recommendation (he used to live in London), so we treated ourselves!
After the doughnut purchase, we noticed something weâ€™d never seen anywhere else… People were standing outside bars and pubs and enjoying their beverages! We wanted in on the fun, so we stopped at John Snow Pub and Tommy had a beer, and I had some elderflower concoction.
The clothespins on my dress were from the Wimbledon drinks we had!
After this, we were a bit hungry, so we wanted to take the recommendation of Tommyâ€™s sister Leah, who lived in London, to seek out Indian Food on (or near) Brick Lane. Thatâ€™s how we came across Dishoom, which I fell in love with immediately!
It was a SUPER lively place!
I took a long video as I walked around trying to find Tommy - perhaps I should post it?
Their cocktail menu was fabulous! I had an old fashioned, which came in its own little bottle!
We ordered a few things to share, and everything was delicious!
Part of the atmosphere I loved was the spirit of the place - from the charitable attributes, to the hilarious WiFi account name, and to the list of rules! Here is a bit of that, though it canâ€™t be captured well, and I need to learn either better photography in low light situations, or better editing!
After Dishoom, we decided to take the tube back to the apartment and retire for the night!
The next morning, our initial plan was to go to the gym, and then to take advantage of some influencer perks which were suggested to me (that eventually fell through). On our way to the gym (at a coffee shop, of course), I found out that if the influencer perks were going to happen, they would be on Wednesday instead, so we altered our plans and decided to get the London Pass after we went back and changed out of our workout clothes!
Hereâ€™s a video compilation from our Instagram stories of day two in London!
Since as I mentioned, we hadnâ€™t done a ton of research, most of the destinations on the Big Bus Tour routes were parts of Central London, and on the red route.
Our first stop was Buckingham Palace!
The queen had invited us in, but we sadly had to decline. ðŸ˜œ We walked around there a bit, then got back on the bus, and decided to use it as transportation rather than strictly tourism, as we wanted to go next to the Tower of London to see the Crown Jewels. It is undecided whether or not this was a good move, as it took a LONG TIME. There was some traffic and construction that I believe slowed things down. Tommy fell asleep a couple times. I learned some things, but it wasnâ€™t necessarily things that I was dying to know about, although some did come in handy later for planning day three!
The Tower of London was our next stop, and the second thing for which we used our London Pass. We got there relatively late (only an hour and a half before they closed), so we got to see the Crown Jewels, and the torture items - quite the contrast, isnâ€™t it! Cameras werenâ€™t allowed by the Crown Jewels, so I recommend googling it if you canâ€™t go. We werenâ€™t inclined to photograph, so if youâ€™re super intrigued about that, go ahead and google it, but Iâ€™m judging you, you sicko! (Just kidding - we went in to the exhibit, so itâ€™d be mighty hypocritical to judge)!
Since we were able to get a little closer, we took a selfie with the Beefeaters who were guarding the Crown Jewels!
From there, we were originally planning to do a Jack the Ripper tour, but we realized that if we did, we wouldnâ€™t be getting our moneyâ€™s worth on our London Pass, so we were able to reschedule that, and we went to check out The Shard instead!
Here it is from the outside, taken from on London Bridge!
Itâ€™s the tallest building in Western Europe!
Hereâ€™s a view of Tower Bridge from the 72nd floor of The View from The Shard!
After this, we decided to go back to Vauxhall (near our Airbnb), for dinner at Marquis de Winchester, where we got a pot pie and salad that we split but were too hungry to photograph! Next, we FINALLY made it back to the gym, then did our laundry in our Airbnb, and heated up some of the food we bought at Tesco before we knew that we could go to the Ethiopian restaurant!
Then, bedtime, so we could get up early and take advantage of The Gym one more time (after coffee and tea)! After that, we wanted a traditional English breakfast, and since we had done more research on blogs, we settled on the Apres Food Co, which as you can probably tell, had some French influence. We are fascinated by French cuisine, because it aligns well with our nutritional beliefs of eating real food! We were definitely not disappointed. We had a peanut butter and strawberry smoothie (hereâ€™s half of mine)
and their traditional English breakfast.
Aside from the French influence, we liked that this restaurant was owned/run by a nutritionist, so we felt confident we were doing our bodies another favor!
Once fueled, we wanted to head back to a place we had seen on our Big Bus Tour the day before. Since we regularly shop at Lululemon in the States, we wanted to see if there were big differences in the offerings at one in London. Sadly, there were not! But we still took a photo in the photo booth!
The Lululemon we had selected was near the aforementioned Bond Street, the third most expensive shopping area in the world, after Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, and Fifth Avenue in New York. We walked over there, because I had looked online and saw that there was what I thought was a Mason Pearson store there. I thought that a Mason Pearson brush would have been a fabulous souvenir from London, because I could think about our honeymoon every time I brush my hair for the rest of our lives! Unfortunately, it wasnâ€™t a store - it was an office, so we couldnâ€™t go in. I took a picture of the list of Stockists in Central London, and told myself that if we crossed paths with Harrodâ€™s, Marks & Spencer, or Selfridges, Iâ€™d get one there. We didnâ€™t, and Iâ€™ve since left London dreaming of this brush, and am now obsessed. There are two stockists in Edinburgh, and I may buy one there anyway, even though Tommy says that itâ€™s like buying it in the US or anywhere else. I sort of agree, but think itâ€™s still better!
We were also near where one of the bus tour guides recommended getting tea… So we went. But we then realized that it was an Italian place, and that we were taking recommendations from a poor college student whose tour bus boss probably had an agreement with the “tea place,” so we left, after checking blogs for a new high tea destination.
While someday we plan to get dressed up and spend lots of money having high tea at the Ritz…
For now, we wanted a more casual and budget-friendly option, so we went back to SoHo to the Secret SoHo tea room, which is a beast to find. But go to the Pub that is where maps tells you the tea room is, and ask inside, and theyâ€™ll direct you upstairs to this secret place!
The cool thing about this place is that it is in a retro style, and was an eighth of the cost of the Ritz tea.
If youâ€™re a cat lover like I am, another cool aspect of it was this friend we made!
From there, we wanted to check out what the internet told us was the oldest pub to survive the great fire. Enter Hoop & Grapes:
We had a beer (Tommy) and a Peach Melba in a beautiful glass that was tempting as a souvenir if I didnâ€™t have a few more countries to visit (me) as well as some Scottish Salmon as a snack!
After feeling the history of the pub, we had ourselves a history lesson via the Jack the Ripper tour. This was an interesting choice for us. While both of us like horror movies, and ghost tours, we discovered that whenever the tour guide either said “and this is where ____ died,” or “and I canâ€™t take you where ___ died because now thereâ€™s a building there, but _____….” we were not that interested in the whole thing. There were lots of interesting facts, as well as photos (some that I avoided looking at, since Iâ€™m quite the empath), and I donâ€™t regret taking it, it just wasnâ€™t as thrilling as the ghost tour in Savannah. Weâ€™ll see how the ghost tour in Edinburgh goes! We didnâ€™t take any pictures on the tour, because it seemed like a weird thing to do, and like I said - we werenâ€™t really feeling the tour!
What we were feeling, however, was hungry! We had initially put Duck & Waffle on our list for our three days in London, and it was nearby, but nothing on its menu was screaming our names at that moment (though I should mention that itâ€™s open 24 hours, so apparently there IS good late night food in London, just not in Vauxhall), so we looked on Yelp for answers.
We came across something called Dinerama, which was really cool! It was similar to Smorgasburg or Grand Central Market for fellow Angelenos, or Milwaukee Public Market for our Milwaukee friends… For those who donâ€™t know what Iâ€™m talking about at all, it was an open area (sort of) that had a bunch of different stalls with all sorts of varieties of food and drink vendors, and space in the middle (and upstairs) for people to sit or stand and enjoy their food and beverages.
We got ourselves a “Tikka Turner” to hold over our hunger. I definitely appreciate the puns in the food names!
I did take pictures of the wrap itself, but I assure you, they werenâ€™t pretty!
That wasnâ€™t enough to fill us up, so we looked on yelp for another place, and found one that had no reviews, but beautiful photos and a menu that was intriguing, so we took a chance on it.
It paid off!
After a tasty negroni made with rum that was “butter washed,” we got a delicious Waygu and bone marrow burger with a bright blue bun, a watercress and parmesan salad (we needed more veggies), and some “Crack and Cheese” which was a three cheese mac with a parmesan chip on top, as well as some spinach in it, which was so tasty and addictive, which lived up to its name!
I had to do them a favor and put up their very first yelp review after being open for three months! If youâ€™re ever in Shoreditch, check out Iron Bloom!
After this, we took a bus and then train back to the Airbnb and packed our stuff up so we were ready to head to Edinburgh in the morning… And Iâ€™m on the train now and almost there, so the rest is to be continued!
Hope you enjoyed reading about our three days in London!
What part of our adventure so far intrigues you most?
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