nature was not on our side either ... (wow talk about being blessed, we legit were deciding on where to go merely on how the weather was looking). It was basically raining all over Europe that specific week. However, I was determined to make my way to Europe one way or another. Then London came about on my google search and the weather was brightening up, so that automatically became our destination.
The flight to London was one of the longest flights of my life! It was about 8 1/2 hours, but that was equivalent to about 5 days. This specific flight was an overnight flight which should be a good thing for most but not for those of us who cannot sleep on planes.... my friend/coworker Marlene was out from the moment the plane took off and I was... up up up (literally)! I remember I was watching the Disney movie "Inside Out" and slightly dozed off and about halfway through the movie I was back up up up. I literally moved from one corner to another, slouched, sat up straight, closed my eyes, opened them back up, NADA WORKED. I was exhausted to say the least lol, (note to self: buy sleeping pills or take Zquil prior to any long flight).
After an eternity of being on the plane we arrived to London and besides my exhaustion I was ecstatic to be there! The first task we had upon arriving was finding a place to exchange currency (let me tell you, the US dollar is worth so little in Great Britain pounds. That was definitely one of our first shocks upon our arrival haha). We also learned to not exchange our currency at the airport always wait until you get to outside places, you get a little more for your dollar. The second task was to find the subway to get to our apartment or should I say, flat. Second task didn't go as smoothly, we had no idea how to operate the machine to get a one way bus ticket haha so we struggled there a bit, they had so many different options and the system was so weird to me, mind you I don't use the subway. But lets just say READING IS FUNDAMENTAL!
This time around we didn't use hotels as our method of housing. We'd heard many positive reviews on Airbnb so we decided to try it (if you've never heard of it and you do a lot of traveling you should definitely look it up, its like the Uber of Hotels LOL). Marlene found this really cute flat in Gloucester, London located right near the city and it was extremely affordable so we jumped in on the offer. The check in time wasn't until 2PM and we were on the subway at about 10AM, we had plenty of time to spare. What do you do when you have time to spare? EAT!
The subway ride to Gloucester was about 30-40minutes. I occasionally took a glimpse out the window and I remember seeing a lot of green and really nice homes it appeared as we in the country side of town, it was also quite gloomy that morning. According to our AirBnB host the subway was a walking distance to our flat so that was something extremely convenient since it would be our method of transportation throughout our stay. We arrived to the town and I automatically felt at home, a little lost but at home!
We were starving by that time so we took a look at our surrounding options and saw a sign for breakfast that looked very appetizing we went to the place and but the menu itself didn't look as great so we left. Right in front of us stood a big Burger King.. that was an automatic no from my part, I'm all for eating things close to home but I'm not a fan of them so we skipped that. Right next to burger king was a cute local breakfast spot that caught our attention and we settled in. The menu although it was english it had some odd choices I went with an option that sounded good and it turned out to be just bread LOL!
Luckily we were able to check in earlier than the agreed time. The flat was literally around the corner as our host described, it was perfection! It consisted of a tiny living room combined with the kitchen, next to the kitchen was the tiniest bathroom and right in front of the living room was the bedroom, small and cozy. There was big windows and although we didn't have a view of much I appreciated the sunlight it brought inside, I love big windows!!
Our tasks for the day were not complete. We were on a hunt to find the passes for our London Tour "The London Pass". There was a million tours to choose from but London Pass had one of the best offers so we were on the lookout for it. Apparently it wasn't as popular as we thought because not a lot of people knew what we were talking about LOL. Its like we were on a scavenger hunt. After some hours we finally found it inside a travel agency located in a nice little corner near our flat. That night we stopped for dinner at a local restaurant that smelled a little weird, kind of like that grandparent house smell.. but we were hungry so we stayed. I tried the lasagna and it was pretty darn great if I remember correctly!
The first night we took the subway to Westminster which was where all of the tourist attractions where located and let me tell you we once again got lost haha, again READ THE SIGNS. I stopped to ask directions to a very odd old man and Marlene swears he almost snatched me lol, but I was too focused on trying to understand what he was saying. Once we found our way our I have my first glance to Big Ben and may I say, WOW! Across the street was the London Eye and it was just mesmerizing and I took about a million and one selfies! That night I also took my first picture with the famous telephone post (officially checked off my bucket list :D) Once my selfie mode deactivated and we were officially freezing we headed back home for our much deserved sleep, we had a long exciting day ahead!
The London Pass had so much to offer! We purchased the two day tour which included the hop on and off tour that took you everywhere. It was extremely convenient because the bus arrived every 15 minutes and you could literally just get off and on where you wanted. The pass had a large variety of options for tourist and you could just pick where you wanted to go and they would scan your pass and then you'd have complete access. It was fascinating!
There was SO much to do we didn't know what to do first.
We ended up choosing Westminster Abbey, it was absolutely breath taking! The architecture was stunning. Westminster Abbey is where the Prince William and the Duchess Catherine married in April 2011. It's also where a lot of funerals of Royals have taken place, this building was dripping with history it was so surreal I felt as if I had gone back in time. Unfortunately, we were't able to take pictures inside the building but I mentally took a screen shot of it and I hold those memories so dear to my heart. This particular tour was one you followed along with a headset so it was move at your own pace which I loved! One of the things that got me on my toes was finding out that Mary, Queen of Scotland's tomb was there in my presence (I had just finished watching the CW show Reign and I was intrigued with her story, definitely recommend that show lol).
That day we also visited the Guards Museum that also provided an audio tour where it informed you of the history of the military guards. Basically how the uniforms evolved, the ranking, etc. it was very informative yet interesting to say the least. We also went at the perfect time because they were holding the "Changing the Guard ceremony" which is a ceremony that takes place everyday at 11:00AM. It lasted about 30 minutes and it was literally like AM people giving the shift to the PM people lol. It was a picture perfect moment and it also made me feel like I was in presence of a Royal event, it was beautiful.
Another one of my absolute favorites was visiting the Tower of London, it is located right in front of the London Bridge which is beyond FASCINATING the details of that bridge are just to die for!
Any who, the London Tower is also another historic monument for the British people it served as a fortress to Queens and Kings. It was also a place where many people were tortured and killed..... the Tower consisted of many different buildings all of them had the never ending stair cases that would literally make your feet bleed if wearing heels lol (I was wearing heeled boots, so I was close enough). One of the many buildings held the Queens coronation Jewels, they were simply dazzling. There was a video of the Queens coronation that accompanied it so I thought that was pretty impressive. ( I feel like I'm writing a paper on British history haha sorry guys!)
Now, let me talk about Shakespeare's Globe Theater, WOAH! I actually pinched myself, I couldn't believe I was there! This of course was a replica because the original theater was burnt down, but my oh my did it feel like the real one. We had really nice short lady as our tour guide for the exhibition and she was so charismatic and knowledgable, I wanted to freeze time it was so unbelievably cool. They still hold plays in the theater and I have made it my mission to go back and attend one of the plays........ one day!
We also took a river cruise that took us to the other side of London where Big Ben and the London Eye were located it was perfect to take some of the best pictures and some really horrible snapchat videos (according to all my friends following me on social media lol... I'm getting better at it though ;)
Among waiting for the tour buses and exploring all around the city our days there were filled with so much history and breathtaking views. The tours started as early as 7am and ended at about 6pm so both days we got up bright and early and headed for breakfast and started our day. I found my PERFECT coffee/breakfast spot located around the corner from our flat, we tired it on the second day and I automatically became obsessed. It was local place that seemed to be there for years. It was a family business kind of thing. The coffee was perfection, not too sweet, not too bitter, it was just right! I dream of going back to that place with my soulmate one day and just having the perfect cup of coffee with the London breeze caressing my face while engaging in a sweet conversation (one day..... ) or maybe i'll just go back and take a good book haha!!
Waking up early and the time zone difference had us sleeping as soon as we arrived from the tour, we would literally die in our sleep and wake up around 9pm to go have dinner.
One of the nights we went to this pizza place and OH MY GOODNESS... the pizza was better than Felinis, better than life! And then add on a glass of sweet wine.... I could have died that night and I would have been at peace.
Another one of the nights we lost track of time but found China Town and so many cute local places but that detour messed with our schedule and we missed the bus that would take us back home so we ended up on the other side of town. Needless to say we were drained when we finally made it home. We fell asleep as soon as we arrived and it wasn't until midnight that my stomach reminded me that I needed food. Marlene was dead asleep and there was no way of getting her up so I actually left the flat and went on unsuccessful hunt for food. Again, there I go putting myself in a TAKEN situation in a foreign country but something about London and the people there made it feel so safe. That food hunt turned into a peaceful walk. I was actually going through a lot during my trip to London so it served as my escape and it helped my growth as a person so much. It was after that specific trip that I realized how blessed my life was and how much I was taking for granted (weird how one walk alone can do that to you).
SO much happened on this trip and we did SO much its hard to put it all on here. Summing it all up if you are looking for a foreign place to travel but you don't really like the language barrier .. go to London! The British people are truly so generously kind. I fell in love with the accent, I would literally ask questions just to hear someone talk haha. But besides that the city has so much to offer! I keep a list of places i'd go back to and places that were nice for a one time visit and well lets just say, London is number one on my list. I loved it, loved it, LOVED IT!
Thank you guys soon much for traveling with me,