I don’t typically post on the weekend, but today’s post is long overdue. I think part of me has been pushing this post off since I haven’t been ready to come to terms with the fact that it’s really over because I am/was SO excited about it. What is it? London, or as I like to call it, “Fun-don!”
To refresh your memory, my mom and I ventured to London and Brussels for about a week in December. We spent a few days in London (part one), ventured to Brussels for 24 hours, and then spent a few more days in London, because we just couldn’t get enough. Part Two of our London Adventures picks up here with our fourth day in London!
DAY 4: Returning to London, Harrods, Winter Wonderland @ Hyde Park
The first order of business when we returned to London was making a stop at Platform 9 & 3/4 at King’s Cross. I wish we had done this earlier in the trip so we didn’t have to lug our suitcases around with us, but hey, I’m a HUGE fan of HP, so I can’t complain. I was off to Hogwarts after all!
At this point it was about dinnertime. Although the train ride from Brussels was a quick 2 hours, there’s a 1-hour time difference between the cities, so we couldn’t wait to find something to eat after checking into the Flemings Mayfair.
We discovered Harrods wasn’t too far away and decided to stop in to check it out before finding food. But by the time we got there we were so hungry that we settled on eating in Harrods Dining Hall. Because, why not? There were a ton of different food stations, all bar-style seating, and completely packed! The Rotisserie sounded good to us, so we went for it. It was pretty tasty!
I was disappointed to hear that Harrods got rid of their exotic animal ordering floor/room. I had heard SO much about it before my trip, so my anticipation was through the roof! Not like I had plans to order/buy a real life cheetah, giraffe or kangaroo or anything, but just the idea that I could was pretty freaking awesome. Oh well!
London’s Hyde Park was a short walk from the famous department store and at Christmas they have a “Winter Wonderland” event with chalet-style shops (the Christmas market set up) and a carnival (rides, games, etc.). I was a little disappointed in terms of the chalet shops – nothing really caught my eye in terms of gifts to bring home for people, but it was still a fun event. It started to rain shortly after our arrival, so we decided to head back to the hotel (it was getting pretty late anyway). But not before snapping a picture with this hand-carved guy!
As we were getting ready to round the corner to our hotel, I thought we should pop into the Ritz to see if there were any openings for tea the next day, since it was our last. I knew it was a long shot, but it ended up being totally worth it. There was ONE table left for the next morning! Fate or what!?
DAY 5: Abbey Road, Sherlock Holmes, Tower of London, The London Eye, & Oxford St.
We woke up to a rainy morning on Day 5/Thursday. It was only drizzle, but since we had some big walking plans on the agenda, we were hoping it would subside. “Fortunately” for me, my hair straightener decided to die on me early on in the trip, so my hair au natural was already looking rough, the rain made wet hair a nice cover!
Ironically though, our first stop was Abbey Road, as in the famous Beatles album + album cover. Why the irony? Because the instant we arrived, the sun came out! I’ve solved the mystery behind their hit, “Here Comes the Sun.” Mom and I tried to recreate the album cover, but there was only 2 of us, and mom wasn’t quite getting the positioning of the walking across the street down. It was pretty funny!
Behind us in the photo you can also see Abbey Road Studio (which you can’t go in) and the giant wall to sign in front. I forgot to bring my Sharpie along, and was relieved to find a pen in my bag so I could sign the wall too!
Next, we headed to 221b Baker Street. Can anyone guess what that iconic location is? The home of SHERLOCK HOLMES!! I’m basically a fan of everything British, so there were a lot of exciting moments for me in London. I’m still bumming that we didn’t have time to take the tour at the Sherlock Holmes Museum, but like Arnold says, I’ll be back!
Afternoon Tea at the Ritz was our next stop! I wrote about it more in depth earlier this month, so I won’t go into it again. But I’ll summarize by saying it was a dream come true!
Tea ended up lasting a little longer than we had planned, which ended up cutting into our next activity, the Tower of London. We had passed by the huge landmark in the first part of our London trip, but this was finally our chance to check out what was behind the walls (including the Crown Jewels)! If you’re a history fan, this is definitely a stop you need to make in London. We could’ve easily spent an entire day here, but instead, had to do a super condensed tour in just over an hour. We were able to hop on one of the guided tours here for about half of the time, and definitely learned a lot more than we ever knew about this tragic place. What’s crazy to me is that people still actually live AT the Tower of London – and with their families! WILD.
After our quick tour of the Tower, we rushed off to the London Eye, where we had tickets to experience a ride on one of London’s top attractions. Again, I’ll spare the details since I did a separate post on this, but it was very cool! And our ticket time couldn’t have been more perfect. The sun was just starting to set, so we were able to see London from up high in the daylight and evening.
Post-ride on the Eye, we walked along the River Thames over to Westminster (where Big Ben is). It was kind of freezing that night, but we didn’t care. We were in London and loving every minute of it!
As usual, we were starving by this time of day. We usually grabbed a quick snack in the morning (our favorite was the Jammy Biscuit) and ended up not eating again until dinner. Not on purpose at all – we both LOVE food. It was just that we were so busy and running from place to place that we kept forgetting! Mom thought I was leading us to dinner here, but I ended up surprising her, as we arrived at Peggy Porschen Cakes, an adorable bakery in a quaint Victoria.
I had seen a photo of the bakery on Pinterest while researching and it looked so cute I couldn’t resist adding it to our itinerary! Plus, mom and I are suckers for bakeries. It was a tough decision, but we narrowed our picks down to two to items to share – a strawberry + champagne cake and vanilla-oreo cupcake. YUMMMM.
Since we were feeling good from our pre-dinner dessert, we thought it only appropriate to head down to Oxford/Regent St. to do some department store browsing + checking out the Christmas window displays. Hands down by favorite display was by John Lewis. The penguin family was ADORABLE and I loved how they showed penguins acting like humans (along with the hottest items for the season). So brilliant. We wandered around the store for a bit too, and ended up purchasing cross body bags from Pippa Middleton’s (Kate’s sister) Modalu line. There was an insanely good sale going on that was too good to pass up! Plus, it’s the Middleton fam!
Our last stop for the evening was Selfridges, another famous London department store. We ended up grabbing dinner in their dining hall, since it had been quite a long day and we just wanted to sit and rest! Mom opted for a “jacket potato” (baked potato stuffed with extras) and a cup of soup, and I went the custom salad route. Nothing exciting, but since I’ve been sharing all my other food photos, may as well throw this one in too!
DAY 6: Kensington Palace, Twinings, Big Ben & Westminster Abbey
Our final day (really half a day) in London was an early one. There were still some key things on our list to do/see that we hadn’t had a chance to do, so we wanted to squeeze as much as possible in. I can’t even begin to describe how crazy of a morning it was!
I can’t tell you what these buildings are (except this first one might look familiar to you HP fans!), but the architecture is just beautiful. Just a glimpse at what you see walking around the city!
First on our list was a stop at Twinings, the original shop of my favorite tea brand! Unfortunately for us, they were having a staff meeting and were having a delayed opening that morning. Go figure! There was a cute little breakfast joint next door though, so we decided to pop in for a quick cup of coffee and bite to eat while we re-strategized our last few hours.
I got a kick out of the “look right,” “look left” signs on the street for pedestrian crossing. Instead of looking up, I’d always look down first to remind myself which way traffic was going, since they drive “backwards”/on the other side of the road over there!
At this point I was an expert navigator of the Tube (subway system), so I re-routed us to Kensington Palace on the complete opposite side of town, to see the dwellings of the beloved Will, Kate, Harry, and Prince George. It was still quite early so nothing was open to tour, but we wanted to walk by anyway to check the scene out and hopefully catch a glimpse of the royal fam. There was a Princess Diana memorial in the park, but unfortunately it wasn’t going to be open for a few more hours so we weren’t able to check it out.
With so many people walking in the park, I was alert, keeping my eyes peeled for a royal sighting. No dice. It was still pretty cool though! Totally different from the Queen’s dwellings at Buckingham, but very peaceful. I definitely wouldn’t mind living there! Here’s a glimpse at the front of Kensington Palace, for all you royal fans!
And a shot of me outside the bright red phone booth, because it’s so classic London.
Next up was the hike back up to Westminster. We had briefly walked through part of the area earlier in the trip when we checked out the Churchill War Rooms and walked over the bridge by Big Ben the night before, but still had yet to see Big Ben in the daylight (up close) and Westminster Abbey!
We didn’t have any time to tour either, but it’s definitely something I’d love to do the next time in London (along with the Houses of Parliament)! So glad we were able to pop by though!
Our final stop was back where the day had begun. Twinings. The shop was small, but has been there since the late 1700s, which was pretty neat! We stocked up big time here, picking up a few tea bags and loose tea from the brand new and exclusive to the UK, line of tea to bring home. There’s just something about tea FROM England that makes it so much better.
After that, it was a mad rush back to the hotel to grab our bags and run out the door to Paddington Station to catch the Heathrow Express back to the airport. We ended up getting stuck on the plane for almost THREE hours after boarding due to an air traffic control power outage which was a bummer. I wish we were able to spend that time exploring more of London, but glad it happened on the way back versus coming in. Fingers crossed I’ll get back there soon!
Have you been to London? What’s the #1 place on your bucket list?