Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t love big cities. Give me a quiet backcountry with a rustic cabin and endless rolling hills and I am a peaceful, content lass. When my two friends and I decided to take a trip to England together, we all agreed we didn’t want to spend much time in London. Our goals were to split our time between two national parks (which we did) and only spend 24 hours in London (which we also did.)
London is a big city, and we didn’t want to spend much time here because we thought it would be too hustle and bustle, too overwhelming, too many people, too this, too that…
Boy were we wrong.
Backing up a bit, our journey getting to London was quite an adventure. We chose a 6am flight, and because the trains in Germany had been occasionally getting delayed, we decided to sleep at the airport the night/morning before our flight. We took an 11pm train to the airport, found a corner in the airport at 1 am, and “slept” until around 4am.
I don’t think I ever actually fell asleep.
Despite the lack of sleep, I don’t regret sleeping at the airport. We arrived in London around 11am, took the underground to our hostel, and set off to explore the city for the remainder of the day. I have never seen a more simple, easy to follow public transportation than the London Underground. From the airport to the city, and from each area of the city to another, it was foolproof.
Maybe it was because I was in the land of my first language, or maybe it was the ease of tapping my Oyster card onto the entry gates of the underground making me feel like a local, but I never once felt stressed navigating London, nor did I struggle to find the right train or location. 10/10 for the London Underground.
Upon arrival in the city the three of us had one thing on our mind: find coffee. Our lack of sleep, and desire for exploration led us to Kaffeine, a coffee shop we visiting twice in the 24 hours we were in London. This was a cute little shop with delicious coffee. On our way to the coffee shop we spotted Ben’s Cookies, an English cookie chain with AMAZING COOKIES.
I don’t typically gravitate towards food that comes from a chain like restaurant, but I wasn’t aware Ben’s was a chain until after I left London. I saw another Ben’s in another city later on during my trip. I didn’t even care though, because the cookie I bought was worth every splurged penny and bite. It paired perfectly with my americano from Kaffeine.
Sugar and caffeine in our veins we walked the city, and found our way to Hyde park. This park is just a jump away from the city center shops, and has lovely trees that hug along the Serpentine lake. The weather held up most of the time we were in London, but while we wandered the park it began to rain. I find in these moments the rain almost makes the experience more memorable.
So long as I have the right jacket on.
After the park, it started to get dark. We realized we needed real food, and in typical American fashion we ended up at Chipotle. It’s been a long 10 months away from Chipotle for us all, and while I NEVER feel well after I eat there, it was worth it. Before we found Chipotle, we made a last minute decision to watch one of the MANY shows playing in the city.
London has show, after show, after show playing in multiple different locations across the city, and we chose the cheapest show playing. We walked up to the ticket counter at 6pm, discovered there was a showing of Waitress at 7pm, and the cost was around $50. We were sold, and after eating our meal we made our way to the theater.
Low key wanted to see Phantom of the Opera, but I’ll see that one next time.
I’d heard of Waitress, but I had no idea what it was about. It ended up being an AMAZING show, and it was so much fun. I decided in that moment that London was not like the other cities I tried to avoid, London was a city I could, and will come to and spend a week eating cookies, drinking coffee, and watching a new show every night.
After the show we made our way back to our hostel for the night. The next morning we got up early to explore some of the well known places in the city. Places like: Buckingham Palace, Platform 9 3/4, The London Eye, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Kaffeine…back to Kaffeine. Before we left the area of our hostel, we had breakfast at a cafe right around the corner. The cafe had a perfectly fitting name for its location…
I have been obsessed with English/Irish/Scottish breakfasts since my first trip to the UK a few years ago, and I needed an English breakfast at least once on this trip. All of these breakfasts have similarities and differences, but what I get from each one of them is: eggs, bacon, black pudding, and potatoes of some kind.
Hi my name is Brittany, and I’m a recovering vegan.
We visited all the above places I listed on our own time. We planned to join a free walking tour, but no one showed up so we made our own walking tour. All three of us are Harry Potter fans, and it was great seeing Platform 9 3/4. The train station (King’s Cross) is beautiful on its own, but this addition made it worth the trip.
We stayed in the city until around 3pm before making our way back to the airport to pick up our rental car. We stopped by Kaffeine for one more beverage and snack before our drive, and it was just as tasty the second time as it was the first. Sometimes I like trying multiple new places, and sometimes I stick to one place that was good the first time.
Just like that, our quick 24(ish) hours in London were up and it was time to move on to the next part of our trip. I was pleasantly surprised by London, and I can’t wait to return. I need to go back for the shows, and to see Big Ben when she’s not under construction. She was completely blocked by scaffolding while undergoing a 4yr renovation. We all need a little facelift from time to time.
Q: Do you prefer visiting a new restaurant every day, or will you return to one you fell in love with?