20 May to 10 June 2015.
First, a quick anecdote – When I was going through security to fly to London, my contact solution was taken since the bottle was too big. No biggie, but I did need to get some ASAP. My cousin took me to a local pharmacy to pick some up. The only issue was I only had dollars and Euros on me, neither of which would help me in the UK. So, I said, “Thank you, but I don’t have any shillings on me,” to which everyone in the car began laughing at. Completely oblivious to how stupid what I had just said was, my cousin handed me some British pounds and said, “Here, Robyn, here are some shillings for you!”
Needless to say, I will NEVER forget what currency is used in the UK. Funny enough (if this could get funnier), shillings haven’t been circulating since 1970 — 25 years before I was born!
By the way, the pharmacy was closed. LOL.
My trip to London was short-lived. I spent most of the time with family, seeing many that I hadn’t seen in over a decade and meeting some I had never met (or remember meeting). Can you believe that? Big family probs. I spent only one day in London city.
The highlight of my time in London (and the primary purpose of being there) was my cousin Kelly’s wedding.
The ceremony was beautiful. The sun had shown down on the happy couple. They beamed with as much happiness as the sun. The reception was just as great! Full of more love, dancing, and good ol’ family time.
There, I found my love of Peroni Italian lager. Also, champagne and white wine, and red wine. Honestly, all the alcohol. #TurnUp
Wondering when I visited downtown? Look no further! I spent my final day in London exploring many of the hotspots.
London City Highlights
Ferry along the River Thames
My cousin, who hosted me (THANK YOU, JOHN & FAMILY!) during my time in London, lived on the city’s outskirts, so we needed to take the ferry. Taking the ferry was super awesome! Do you know the London Bridge? Well, thankfully, it wasn’t falling down anymore because I went under it! So the ferry was a great way to get quickly get the essence of London.
Sure, the River Thames was a terrific way to see London. But, the London Eye was even more remarkable. It’s a giant Ferris wheel with standing room and a transparent enclosure. By the time you reach the top, you can see all of London.
Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster
I was most excited to see Big Ben when I visited London. Besides Buckingham Palace, the clock tower was what my mind’s eye pictured when I thought of London. I didn’t go inside the tower, as international visitors are not allowed. UK residents and British citizens must get written permission to inside. The Palace of Westminster is the home of the English Parliament. It’s also known as the Houses of Parliament.
I was able to get excellent views of the clock tower from the London Eye, across the river, and I even got to stand in front of it! Unfortunately, if you visit London now, the view of Big Ben will be skewed because of the ongoing restoration of the tower. According to the UK Parliament’s website, the restoration is scheduled to be completed in 2021. Even with the scaffolding present, I’m sure it’s still a sight to see.
Big Ben is the name of the bell. The tower itself is called the Elizabeth Tower, after Queen Elizabeth II (Parliament UK).
The National Gallery
I love me a museum, especially in a different country than my own. While in London, we stopped in to see Van Gogh’s Sunflowers (fourth edition). It was interesting to see this piece, as my parents have a print hanging in our house! Never did I think that I would see the real thing.
Fish & Chips
We stopped to get lunch during my mini-tour of London. I chose to go with the traditional “Fish & Chips,” which came with traditional, mushy peas (delish, even if they sound gross!). Sadly, no pictures of this meal survive, most likely because I wolfed it down so quickly! YUM
I found my summer home while in London. It’s this quaint little place. Maybe you’ve heard of it – Buckingham Palace?
Ok, so maybe The Queen won’t want to share her palace with me, but no one stopped me from taking pictures in front or watching the Changing of the Guard ceremony. It’s impressive to see how serious those men stay during the ceremony, even with people making faces at them. Unfortunately, I could not go inside the Palace because I had a flight to catch, but it is possible. Visit the Royal Trust Collection’s website to find out when you can visit. P.S. If the flag is up when you visit, The Queen IS IN THE HOUSE! She was when I was there… score.
There are many more things than what I was able to do when I visited in 2015. Luckily, I was able to see Big Ben without scaffolding, it WAS NOT raining (surprise), and The Queen was at her Palace when I visited.
During my next trip, I hope to visit the Tower of London, tour Buckingham Palace, see more of the art in the National Gallery, and maybe (if I’m lucky!) spot a royal.
I want to hear from YOU!
Have you ever been to London? Do you have any other recommendations about where to go?
Until my next adventure,