Monday, September 11, 2017

London Here We Come! (Day 1)

I'm finally ready to start sharing the story of our trip!
(And just a note, all photos were taken by us unless otherwise noted.)

So we left on the last Wednesday in July, taking a 1pm flight to Washington, D.C. From there we had a 6:15pm trip to London that was actually only six hours and fifteen minutes. When the pilot announced the trip time, Mike and I looked at each other because we knew we weren't going to get very much sleep on this flight like we had planned. It was just too early to go to sleep. And by the time we did feel tired, there probably wouldn't be much time left.

We arrived in London at 6:08 am their time and took the Underground from Heathrow airport to Central London via the Piccadilly Line. Most of our traveling within the cities over in Europe was done on the Underground/train, Uber or just plain walking.

It was a short walk from the train station to our hotel and this was the first real view we had of it! We had seen photos on line and knew it was right by a park on the river, but it looked pretty amazing in person.
The main entrance was around back and thankfully even though we were super early, they had a room ready for us. Being so tired we were grateful we could at least get settled in our room and change clothes before heading out again. One thing we were prepared for and had heard was that hotel rooms in Europe can be small. This one was definitely smaller than we were used to, but it was fine for just the two of us. The bathroom was updated, but the shower head was terrible.

So by the time we got to the hotel, checked in dropped off our things and changed clothes, it was 9am. We realized how hungry we were and headed out to find some breakfast. Luckily Mike had unlimited cellular thanks to our phone plan over there and we were able to research places to go and transportation pretty easily.
Just a side note, he did most of the transportation and hotel planning while I did most of the activities and places to visit planning. Restaurants we did together. Although I did find a few recommendations for food before hand.
Anyway, our google search led us to this restaurant located about a 10-15 minute walk away in Soho...

(photo courtesy of google)
I had a Ham and Cheese Omelet and it was Berry pancakes for Mike. Definitely a good way to start off the trip!
But our walk to the restaurant took us through Trafalgar Square 
We were only there long enough to snap a few photos, but we did walk through it quite a few times in the two days we were there heading to other places!

After breakfast we set off walking through the West End towards Buckingham Palace

And as we were walking it hit us that we were in London! Look a red double decker bus!

And a red phone booth! Really they aren't all they are cracked up to be. Of course they are not functional and quite disgusting inside lol. But when in London, you just have to check one out!

The Mall heading towards Buckingham Palace.
There were crowds of people lined up all around the perimeter of the street and circle there. We weren't sure if it was always like that or something special going on. Later someone mentioned there was an announcement that Prince Philip was retiring so they were preparing for a parade.
I have to say it was amazing being there, but really we hung out for a bit and then just moved on to St. James Park.

It really was pretty there.
The next stop on our walking tour was...
Big Ben. You can't go to London and not see Big Ben!

It had some scaffolding around it, but that's pretty par for the course with us and monuments and tourist stops. 
Washington Monument 2013 

The view from Big Ben to the London Eye across the Thames River.
Our hotel was a few blocks right down the road on the river, so we decided to walk back and rest. 
We ended up taking a three or so hour nap and then hung out at the hotel until around 6pm

We then decided to walk back towards Soho and the West End stopping to get a few appetizers at a Tapas place called Barrafina. It was ok, nothing special that I would recommend.

We set off walking again and ended up at the...
The Lego Store! We just had to go in to get some photos for the kids, right? 

This was the photo we sent the kids! I liked this phone booth much better. Definitely cleaner!

Then since everyone else seemed to be doing it, we stopped at this cute little pub so Mike could get a beer.
One of my favorite things about this trip is how relaxed we were about pretty much everything.

Next we wandered through Carnaby Street but didn't do any shopping. It was pretty late by then.
So we started looking for a place to have dinner.
We settled on Dirty Bones which was located in the coolest little restaurant setup called Kingly Court. If you are ever in that area, I would definitely check it out.

(photo from google)
It looks like you are just walking through the entrance of a building, but when you get inside you find this...
Just really amazing how many restaurants they are able to fit in there! I really liked it and wish we would have had more time to try a some of the other places to eat.

Anyway, Mike had a mac and cheese burger and I had the fish tacos for dinner. He liked his a lot. Mine was pretty good, but a little spicy.

Next stop, back to Big Ben to see it at night.
And a walk around Westminster Abbey

By then we were exhausted and headed back to the hotel around 11:15pm. It had been a long day but so fun. And according to my fitbit, I had walked 25,956 steps and 11.13 miles!

Stay tuned for the next post - Day 2 in London at Notting Hill, Abbey Road, and the London Bridge!


  1. How fun! LOVING all the photos!! I feel your pain about Big Ben! The one and only time I was in DC, the pool was emptied of water as it was being fixed! LOL!!!!

  2. Great start and you know I'm excited for the rest...thanks for the tip about that restaurant area. I had not heard of it before.

    It seems there is always restoration going on in Europe....but everything is so old! See, we tear down old things in the US but in Europe they actually care about the history and restoration is performed! Of course, they are much older than we are here too!

  3. Great photos Mary Jo. The phone boxes were all going to be removed because they are so old but people objected, so they stayed, it is such a shame that they are not properly maintained. So glad you got to see most of Big Ben without the scaffolding, they have now stopped the clock and it will be two more years before we hear him ringing out again - maintenance work! Looking forward to part 2! Anne xx

  4. Oh my goodness, that is a long time!!
    So amazing getting to see so many things in person that I have only read about or seen on tv or in magazines!

  5. This brings back so many memories for me. Looks like you had a wonderful time! I love London!