London is my favorite city in the whole world.
Even before my initial visit two years ago, I knew I was an Anglophile- that is, a person with a deep admiration for Britain. I’ve loved England for so long, I even started a British club in high school. Though it didn’t last long, it was a great conversation starter for college applications. My favorite city in the States is New York City, and London feels just like that with a dash of posh and punk thrown in for good measure. And yeah, I know I’m neither posh nor punk, but for some reason I feel like my style-less gnome-like statued self fits in there.
The first thing I wanted to do for Europe Pt. II adventure was go back to London. I didn’t even care that it was going to make it my third trip there this year- it’s a place that makes me so happy, and the plane ticket there was $20. TWENTY DOLLARS! Crazy, I know. I booked a spot at a well-rated hostel that I really enjoyed. I arrived stupid early Sunday morning and stayed through Friday night, so I had six whole days in my favorite city. This meant I could actually sleep in and not get up at the crack of dawn to seize every day. I’m not a morning person at all, so I didn’t even get up until 10 most days, not even gonna lie to y’all.
This time around, I was determined to hit some of the sites that were more time-consuming, or that were a little out of the way. I’ve loved traveling to London with people in the past, but it was also fun to be there solo this time so that I could do things when and where I wanted to.
My trip highlights were for sure the Camden Market and afternoon tea at The Balcon. Camden Market is one of the biggest tourist spots but doesn’t necessarily feel touristy. You can buy practically anything here- saris, tea, furniture, YUMMY food, etc. It’s a labyrinth of shops and you can get some great deals for everything! I spent three hours here on a rainy day, just exploring all the offerings. Afternoon tea was also something I hadn’t done in the city yet, and knew I had to accomplish this time around! I loved the Balcon because it felt WAY fancier than the price tag implied. A friend from undergrad happened to be in London while I was there and we met up for this. It was a great afternoon! Tea, scones, little sandwiches, and French pastries to top it all off… I left feeling so stuffed I left food behind! I never do that.
In September, the Queen is away and Buckingham Palace opens to tourists! This was an expensive experience, but entirely worth it in my opinion. I was also nerding out hardcore at all the free museums around town, so I figured I could splurge on this indulgence, because who knows when I’m going to be in London again!?* One thing I found interesting about Buckingham Palace was the abundance of pictures of Obama with the queen. Also, in every picture, the Queen has the same little black purse. Google it. You’ll notice it too. Do you think the Queen keeps typical grandma stuff in her purse? Like extra napkins from every cafe in town? Pens she’s walked away with from hotels? The mints from Mexican restaurants?**
*Note: I always say this phrase to myself whenever I need to convince myself to spend money in London, and yet I’ve come to this city three times this year alone. WELL, YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN IT MAY BE YOUR LAST TIME FOR A LONG TIME!
**Note II: It’s thoughts like this that will forever keep me from ever getting invited anywhere fancy, ever.
Traveling solo for a week was really fun, and so often people are scared to do it… but I promise it’s not as nerve-wracking as it sounds! I made friends with the people in my hostel room, and spent time with them, as well as doing things on my own. I’m also someone who likes to read every single thing in the museums, and I know that for me, personally this trip was best done solo so I could do that. Like I said before, many of the museums were free in London (with a suggested donation), which makes this a cheap date for sure. My favorite museum was the Museum of London, right by St. Paul’s Cathedral. They had a replica of a Victorian London street, a time period I’m OBESSSED with, that you could walk through and explore. It was so cute. I also went to a service at St. Paul’s Cathedral (made famous to Disneyites for its appearance in Mary Poppins). Spoiler alert: the Eucharist wafers in this Anglican Church taste just like the ones do back home in my Catholic Church. Looks like we have more in common than I thought.
I had a great week in London, and I can’t wait to come back! It’s got so much to do, and I still have things on my to-do list, like see a show (lookin’ at you, Lion King)! It’s such a large, vibrant city and someday I hope I can live there (sorry, Mom). You can read in detail about museums, my favorite stores in London, etc. here. This post was originally super wordy but I had to cut it down somehow. And for those who think London is expensive 1. You’re hella right it’s expensive, but 2. It doesn’t have to be outrageously expensive. You can read all about that on my new fact page too!