Oh London, I hardly knew you! As soon as we booked our trip to Paris, I began looking at ways to maximize our trip by visiting other cities and/or countries. Rome was top of my list, but a twelve hour train ride seemed out of the question. The next option though, London proved perfect! We could travel there, for just a day and get a taste of the city. So a couple days into my Paris vacation, we stopped over in London! Here are all of the details of my day trip to London!
Unless you failed High School Geography, you know that the United Kingdom is an island and getting there from Paris requires crossing over the English Channel. Well some genius decided that a train that goes under water would be a perfect way to forge the channel. The same geniuses, named this train route the chunnel, enabling travelers to commute between the two cities in two hours time! I love smart innovative people! We booked our chunnel trip well in advance for $90 roundtrip via the Eurostar website. Like many travel companies, they offer electronic tickets that fit right into your apple wallet. We also selected our seats online during the booking process.
We booked the earliest train out of Paris and the latest return, keeping in mind that there is an hour time difference between the two cities. On the day of our trip I was SO excited to head to London and experience the train! In my mind, London was better suited to my tastes, plus they speak English! Then since I was already in love with Paris I just knew I would be madly in love with London. Well… that train ride really threw me all the way off!
Our ride to London was extremely bumpy and I got sick. The ride was so bad even my aunt and sister, who do not get sick on trains, were clamoring for doses of Dramamine. Once we arrived I was so out of it, it was literally hours before I was able to enjoy the city. Getting sick while traveling has GOT to be the worst. I was most mad at the amount of time wasted. Thankfully our ride back was painless and a much smoother.
Y’all, who knew London was SO cold?! When we exited our train that wind hit me down my bones! We checked the temperature in advance and thought we would be good like Paris. Never did we think about the windchill factor. So I made this whole little section to make sure you are smart unlike me and prepare for London to be as cold as the North Pole!
Several folks suggested that I use the hop on and hop off tours once in London to maximize our time. Once again I booked through Viator (I promise they are not paying me, but hey Viator call me). From the train station, we hopped in the classic London taxis. I am not sure what auto company produces these old fashioned cars for London, but I love them. There is no trunk in there so the cab part has two additional seats that fold down to fit four passengers. Between our tour bus, taxis and our two feet we were able to maneuver the touristy areas pretty well.
What We Saw
Our tour bus of course was a double decker bus, which is a must in London. I was still reeling from the train ride so I fell asleep during the first half of the tour. While sleep, I kind of saw the church where Princess Diana got married and several other London spots. I woke up at the Tower of London and headed off to tour it. The Tower of London reminded me of the medieval castles I studied in elementary school with the moat and the exterior walls to protect the interior castle. While there we got a refresher course on medieval life and armor throughout the buildings.
The highlight of the Tower of London though are the crown jewels! Right before I went to London I watched the Netflix series “The Crown” so I felt like an expert on Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. They do not allow you to take pictures inside though and have a moving sidewalk that ensures you move through the space quickly. The exhibit includes crowns, scepters and other fancy items belonging to English royalty. Despite the limitations was really cool to see everything!
Getting sick on the ride over really killed our ability to move around and see everything possible :(. With only a few hours left I was adamant that we visit Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. The palace was beautiful of course, but it was not as grand as I imagined it would be. We stopped by the gift shop though and it probably was the nicest one we saw during the whole trip. I even picked up a Buckingham Palace wash cloth (our hotel didn’t provide them). This fancy towel is one of my favorite souvenirs :).
We made our final trek to Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. Big Ben is such a photogenic attraction. I probably took 100 pictures of it from various angles. Oh and then as we walked up we encountered one of the famed London phone booths. If you know me and my sister, you KNOW a photoshoot ensued. They are so adorable! I wonder if anyone uses the phones anymore or if they are just for nostalgia purposes?
Yeah so I failed to eat at any really cool places while in London. I researched them and prepared to go, but time was not on my side! I even broke a travel rule and ate at the Tower of London. Cafes within tourist attractions are usually SO overpriced, understandably have menus catered to children and just do not have good food. With few choices we stopped over at the New Armouries Cafe and honestly it was not bad. I had a brisket dish that was seasoned very well and was fulfilling. I also ordered soup, that amounted to flavored water. One out of 2 isn’t that bad considering the odds I had going in.
Before heading back to Paris we grabbed some food at Le Pain Quotiden at the train station. I was so out of it y’all I couldn’t even muster up the energy to be excited about the Harry Potter connection. Here I ate an incredibly bland chicken sandwich. The bread was good though! My sister ordered a vegetarian chili that actually looked really good. She was the only one who was super pleased with her meal.
I liked Paris better and that is my final answer! I realize my experience was tainted by my time limitations and being sick. If the opportunity presents itself again I would like to spend more days in London so I can really experience the city and come back with a real review. I am nearing the end of my posts about this trip. Make sure you subscribe so you do not miss out!