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, my husband wasn’t too interested after just returning from Cancun earlier that month. After some research, he firmly 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 of 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 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. Before 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 minutes walk from the tube! After dropping off our bags and freshening up a bit, we headed out and walk, and walk, and walked some more, totaling about 10 miles that day!
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 enjoyed 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 have a chance to see the changing of the King’s 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 included 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!
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 would 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 approached, we decided to make our way north toward the train. About a mile and a half from the Louvre, 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.
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 11 am! This is entirely out of the norm for me, I am an early riser! We quickly showered, dressed, and headed 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 had planned an organized pub crawl throughout London. We would have been given the chance to experience more pubs throughout the city. However, we still had a great time!
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 returning to the USA. Afterward, 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 revisit London one day!
We decided to hop on the Uber boat. Not only was this an excellent 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 many steps, so be prepared. As you walk across the bridge, there is glass flooring so that you can see it below. Not my favorite thing, but an incredible experience, haha!
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 our last day, we thought it would be best to head back toward our hotel and hang out in that area. We jumped on the Big Bus London Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus. This is 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 everything we needed to depart in the morning. Once we felt ready, we headed out for dinner and drinks locally.
Overall, we had a great trip. There were definitely some mishaps, but we enjoyed ourselves and learned from this trip. The trip opened 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 for future experiences, not just for us but for our kids. 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 failure trying to get to Paris, and we will not make this mistake again! Thanks for reading this far in my post, and I can’t wait to share our future travel experiences with you!
As amazing as our adventure was, there is still so much more to see in London. For our next trip, I will reference Chasing Wonderful’s list of 30 of the Best Sights in London. Check it out for some great suggestions!
32 responses to “An Exciting Adventure in London”
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!
Have an amazing trip!
Hope you enjoy London! What a city.
We can’t wait to go back!
Wow! Sounds quite the adventure! Even though we live in England, a trip to London is always exciting!
I am glad you enjoyed London. Always good to nip to Paris for the day, too.
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!
London was geat, but we definitely need to come back! We also want to bring our children next time.
[…] have a Parisian Christmas vacation. I cannot wait to go back to Paris, (check out our day in Paris here) but this time we get to take the kids and give them a very different Christmas […]
All the locks! Wow. Looks like you had an awesome trip. It is nice to read what you did day by day.
Thank you for reading! It was a great trip and I love being able to share our experiences!
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!
Thank you 🤗 ! I hope some of our tips will help!
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) 🙂
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.
Thank you! We are so excited!
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!
It was wonderful to read your post which reminded me of my own trips to London! Thanks for sharing your experience!
Great post! This looks like it was an amazing trip!
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!
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 🙂
Hope our post was helpful! Thanks for reading!
Loved your commentary on your trip! I bet meeting your family was the highlight of your trip!
Our course! Wasn’t sure if you wanted the group photo shared in the blog though!
What a cool idea!
Sounds like such a fun time! I’ve never been to London before. Thanks for sharing all about your experience
Sounds like you fit a huge amount in! I live in the UK but still haven’t had chance to visit London! I have been to Paris though and thought it was amazing! Great post!
Thanks! We are going back to Paris in December, we cannot wait!
London is always my Favorite destination. In fact, I just got back from my London vacation 3 days ago. Hehehe ^_^
Wow I love these photos, you look so happy. I’ve lived in London for years and this was still interesting to read!
Thank you! It truly was an amazing experience!
Wow, that’s seems like a very busy trip, but I am glad you enjoyed it. I haven’t done the Uber boat yet, so put it on my list. Thanks for the ideas!