The land of the Union Jack! We have arrived in London to begin our European Escapade, minus the recklessness.
After bringing our 50lb luggage down 3 flights of winding stairs in our hostel we hit the pavement and ignore the jet lag. We explored the neighbourhoods of Notting Hill, and Kensington. Wandering down the Portobello Road Market we saw vintages and antiques, even our Peter Rabbit mugs. Walking through Notting Hill let us live out the scenes of Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. What a great movie that was. The lovely thing about London is its vast variety of parks, many of them being royal parks. When we visited Kensington Palace, Will and Kate were not home so we checked out the Sunken Garden and strolled through Hyde Park to pass the time. We enjoyed a dinner at The Churchill Arms pub, one of the older pubs in London. The restuarant hidden in the back decorated with tons of hanging plants had some delicious thai food. We finished the evening at Covent Garden, listening to some live music and salivating over some delicious crepes.
Day 2 was off to a rough start. The jet leg caught up with us a bit, but we relished in the fact that the free tour of super touristy government and royal landmarks advertised by the hostel did not begin until 11am. We snagged an outdoor spot at a super cute place Elan Cafe for brunch and greeted our tour guide Emma with the orange umbrella at Green Park, another park that has a royal significance. Our tour brought us to all the big landmarks: Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, and the House of Parliment. Unfortunately the Big Ben is under renovations for the next two years. Guess I will just have to come back. To satisfy out sweet tooth we ventured out to the neighbourhood of Belgravia to Peggy Porschen Cake. Vanity Fair said this was the best cake in the world. We just had to find out for ourselves. We finished the afternoon at the National Art Gallery. The painting collections in the gallery were incredible, from Van Gogh, to Michelangelo and Van Dyke.
Day 3 we conquered the actual “City of London”. We cruised the Thames River, crossed both the Millennium and the Tower Bridge and took our sight seeing to new heights. We walked 250 steps to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral and were whisked up to the 72 second floor of the Shard for a towering view of London. We checked out the Borough Market, enjoying the tastes and smells of the various vendors. We enjoyed dinner on the river and a couple of hours of window shopping all the while picking up our jaws off the floor at Harrods.
Day 4 has come and gone. I got to walk in the footsteps of The Beatles – literally, along Abbey Road. To continue the trend of markets we explored Camden Market before taking the classic picture at Platform 9 3/4. I channeled my inner Hermione Granger. We have since checked into our hotel with Contiki and have met some of the 45 other 18-35 year olds from around the world that will be travelling with us.
Dividing up the city of London centering around the markets really helped me get a good mix of touristy and local culture and customs. It showed me the different personalities of each neighourhood and made me fall in love with London. I haven’t even left yet and I can’t wait to come back.
Ciao ciao for now