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An Exciting Adventure in London

My husband and I visited London in April of 2022, this was our first European trip! This was a semi-spontaneous trip, and quite the learning experience, here’s our London story! Keep reading to find out about our Paris mishap and some of our learning experiences for future travel!

Please, keep in mind, this trip was before we started our blog so I may not be as thorough about the experience and details, as it is not so fresh in my mind and I do not want to miswrite anything!

In December of 2021, my friend and sister proposed we all take an all-inclusive Caribbean vacation. However, after just returning from Cancun earlier that month, my husband wasn’t too interested. After a little bit of research, he strongly said, “We can go to London for the same cost as a Caribbean resort!”, so my response was, “Let’s do it!”. Ever the saver, he did not jump on board his own suggestion. The conversation came up a couple more times, then just a couple days after Christmas, Biagio agreed, “Let’s go to London!”. And, the planning process began!

The Planning Process:

Using Amex Travel, we began to search for different flights and hotels. We also explored the hotel options and different parts of the city. All while keeping a budget in mind. We researched all the typical, population sites and some off-the-beaten-path things we may have wanted to do. We also kept in mind, that we didn’t want to just be tourists the whole time, we wanted to try to experience London, as a Londoner might.

We decided on an evening flight on American Airlines out of JFK, leaving on April 11th, and arriving on April 12th. Prior to leaving, we bought tickets to the Tower of London and a two-day London Pass, which was a learning experience when reflecting back (I’ll get to this later). Upon arrival at Heathrow airport, we went through customs, at headed to the Heathrow Express, a train from the airport to multiple stops in London. We got off and headed directly to our hotel to drop off our luggage. We stayed at The Chilworth Paddington London, just a few minute’s walk from the tube! After dropping off our luggage and freshening up a bit, we headed out and walk, and walk, and walked some more, totaling about 10 miles that day!

Day 1:

We left our hotel and headed south towards Kensington Garden, where we cut through the park past the Peter Pan statue. As we continued through the park we got to enjoy the lovely weather and the beautiful surroundings.

From there we headed towards Buckingham Palace, as expected, it was very crowded. We hoped to see the palace and a chance to see the changing of the Kings Guard; however, not having done enough research, we found out that on Tuesdays there is no ceremony for the changing over. Luckily, we had the opportunity to witness the Horse Guard Parade and take a selfie with a guard standing in front of the palace.

Our next destination was the Tower of London, but we had some time and decided to check out some other sights. We walked passed Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. The Tower of London was beautiful, but it was very crowded, especially the line to see the Crown Jewels, we did not want to spend hours in line, so we did not wait. We did visit the other 9 buildings/exhibits. My husband is a major history buff, so he thoroughly enjoyed this experience. Mishap number 1- The Tower of London tickets were include in the London Pass, but somehow, I did not realize this and ended up paying for the tickets separately.

Directly outside of the Tower of London, is the Tower Bridge. This was a beauty! We did not go into the Bridge this day, but we did cross it as we headed towards our next destination, the London Eye. I am not the biggest fan of heights, but I figured, I have to try this since we’re here. There was a very long line when we arrived, but it moved quickly. The height wasn’t an issue as we went up and it moved at a good pace. I do, however, feel that they squeeze too many people into each capsule. I feel that if you are able to get a spot facing Big Ben, you get the best views! Overall, I enjoyed this experience and would recommend it to anyone visiting London. After the London Eye, we met up with some of my family who also happened to be visiting London at the same time! We had a quick dinner and then were ready to crash after our long day!

Day 2:

Well, this day was interesting. Day 2 was our Paris day! We planned to take the early morning Eurostar train into Paris to visit the Lourve and see the Eiffel tower, however, things don’t always go as planned. This was our BIGGEST learning experience from the trip. It is important to remember that this is not any old train, it is an international train, meaning you have to go through customs. Unfortunately, we arrived just ten minutes after the ‘one-hour prior’ timeframe, and customs was closed.

We were unable to board our planned train, however, the Eurostar employees were so helpful. They were able to work out us getting on the next train, even though this was completely our fault. They even accommodated our return train and pushed it back an hour. We were so glad that we could still get to spend some time in Paris, even though we were going to miss our time slot for the Lourve.

We decided to make the most of our day. The Eurostar arrived at Gare Du Nord, located in the 10th arrondissement, from there we decided to just walk south towards the Eiffel Tower Area. On our way down, we found the cutest little crêperie, L’Atelier des Soeurs. We shared a crêpe and a bottle a wine, then continued our journey.

From here, we decided to take a cab a bit more south since we were on a time crunch. We were dropped off not too far from the Eiffel Tower, since this was a quick trip, we didn’t plan to go up it (an excuse to come back, see you in December!), so we walked around and explored the area.

After the Eiffel Tour, we took the Seine River Hop-on, Hop-off Sightseeing Cruise. I highly recommend this cruise, it is inexpensive, has many stops, and allows you to see parts of the city from the river. We got off near the Pont des Arts and hung our custom lock, I mean we were in Paris, we had to!

We then started walking again, even though we couldn’t get into the Lourve, we wanted to walk by to see the iconic Pyramide du Louvre from the outside. On our walk, we had the opportunity to admire some of the beauty Paris has to offer.

As the evening was approaching, we decided to make our way back up north towards the train. About a mile and a half from the Lourve, we stopped at a restaurant, Marie Belle, located in the 10th arrondissement. I had the most delicious onion soup! My husband had the escargot, he loved it! The decor and vibe were quaint and welcoming. I definitely plan to return on our next trip.

Day 3:

Since landing in London two days prior, we were basically non-stop! It definitely caught up to us on day 3. We didn’t set our alarms and woke up at 11am! This is completely out of the norm for me, I am an early riser! We quickly showered, dressed, and head out for the day! We headed towards Kensington Palace and toured the grounds and palace. It was beautiful and a very different experience for us, as we have never done anything like this before!

Afterward we just set out walking. We decided to visit Harrods, the famous department store! I have never been to a store like this before, I mean, clearly, I have been to Macy’s, Saks, Bloomingdales, etc.. But Harrods was more like store within a store, it felt more like a mall to me. Although they have beautiful items, it was a bit out of our price range so we just did some window shopping.

Next, we wanted to spend a day with the locals. We headed out to try some pubs! Some of the pubs we visited included The Builders Arms, The Prince Albert and The Churchill Arms, Kensington. The Churchill Arms was by far my favorite! The decor was fun both inside and out. All the pubs offered us a great experience, we had the opportunity to chat with the locals, and try different food and drinks. My husband especially loved the way they pump the beer in London.

Looking back, I think it would have been a good experience if we planned an organized pub crawl throughout London. I think we would have been given the chance to experience more pubs throughout the city. However, we still had a great time!

Day 4:

Day 4 was our last full day in London. We started our day with our Covid-19 test, it was still a requirement to test negative prior to return to the USA. Afterwards we headed towards Westminister Abbey. However, due to poor planning on our part, we were unable to enter. It was Good Friday and closed off for tours due to masses. Although we were disappointed, this was just an excuse to visit London again one day!

We decided to hop on the Uber boat. Not only was this a great means of transportation, but it was a fun way to view the city from the Thames. We headed towards the Tower Bridge. We did a self guided tour to the top of the bridge. It was a cool experience, but a lot of steps, so be prepared. As you walk across the bridge, there is glass flooring so that you can see below. Not my favorite thing, but a cool experience, I suppose, haha!

View from the Tower Bridge
View from the Tower Bridge.

We ended our tour on the other side of the Thames and walked towards the London Bridge Experience. This was a different type of tour. It was guided by actors who told true stories about the bridge throughout its time, from when it was first erected. There was a bit of drama added and some scary fun! I don’t think this is a must-do, but if you have some extra time, it could be cool to check out!

Directly across from the London Bridge Experience is a super cute pub called the Mug House. The pub is directly under the London Bridge and has some unique decor!

Since this was out last day, we thought it would be best to head back towards our hotel and hang out in that area. We jumped on the Big Bus London Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus. Another great way to see the city is while being provided a tour by the driver. We got off at the stop closest to our hotel and walked back. Once there, we packed and prepared all that we needed to depart in the morning. Once we felt ready, we headed out for dinner and drinks locally.

In Conclusion:

Overall, we had a great trip. There were definitely some mishaps, but we enjoyed ourselves and learned from this trip. The trip opened to our eyes to how amazing Europe is, even though we only got to experience a very small part of it! This encouraged us to plan and save so that we can have future experiences, not just for us, but for our kids as well. I did learn that various locations in London, and other countries, are not open on certain days and to be sure to check their opening days and hours. We definitely learned from our customs fail trying to get to Paris and we will not make this mistake again! Thanks for getting this far in my post and I can’t wait to share our future travel experiences with you!

28 responses to “An Exciting Adventure in London”

  1. This is awesome trip. Well, I’m waiting to go to Paris with my partner. So, I will keep this in mind because it could help us planning our trip. Thank you for sharing!

  2. I’m only 20 mins away from London and I’ve been there basically my whole life so I always find it SO interesting to read people’s stories of when they visit for the first time and where they go! Sounds like you had a great trip, love that you popped over to France too, I love Paris!

  3. All the locks! Wow. Looks like you had an awesome trip. It is nice to read what you did day by day.

  4. You guys look so cute together! Thanks for sharing your wonderful tips and experiences of London. I’ve never visited so I’ve taken down some notes for when I do visit. Great post!

  5. Sounds like you had a great time, despite the problem with the Eurostar! I’m glad you enjoyed my city (London) and one of my favourite cities to visit (Paris) 🙂

  6. I can see why you enjoyed the Churchill House and the Mug Arms.

    [English pub names do have a culture all of their own and if you are in an altered state of consciousness for any reason it does pay to ask for directions and to write things down].

    Mondays and Tuesdays are usually “closed” days.

    Best wishes for your Parisian Christmas.

    Joyeux Noël.

  7. It’s so great to read people’s experiences of London as I used to live there and I like to know how it went; overall it sounds like a good experience and I’m glad you got to do a number of things even though it can be crowded! Thanks for sharing!

  8. I love this post. I’ve had this on my bucket list for awhile – this may give me the push to finally book the trip! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Looks like you had a fantastic time!! I can’t wait to visit London again – so much fun. Thanks for all the details – very thorough and will help plan our trip 🙂

  10. Sounds like such a fun time! I’ve never been to London before. Thanks for sharing all about your experience

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