My mom decided to accompany me on a short trip to London at the end of September.
We landed in London around 9:40 on Thursday and waited in line at customs for almost 2 hours. It was exhausting and hot. Once we finally got our bags we headed for the Heathrow Express which took us to Paddington station. I was trying to figure out the best way to get to the hotel and this seemed to be the best for us. We then took a taxi from Paddington station to the London Visitors Hotel in Kensington. It was a very historical, old fashioned hotel and the staff was great. We met a nice Polish man who ran the front desk while we were there who was a huge help.
Once we checked into the hotel, the man helped us to our room on the 2nd floor, thank god for his help because there were no elevators. We settled into the room, and freshened up before heading back out. I brought my Chi straightener with me as I have other places abroad, however for some reason when I plugged it into the converter I brought it overheated and melted apart. I’m honestly not sure why or how it happened I just saw the temperature rise to 450+ degrees and it started smoking. I quickly unplugged it because I didn’t want the smoke alarm to go off. Once it cooled off and we finished getting ready we hopped in a cab to the London Eye.
We had bought our tickets for the London Eye online ahead of time and paid a little extra because we weren’t sure what time we would be able to go. Usually there is a 15 minute timeframe you must be there before or after the time you choose. There was no wait and we walked right on. I noticed everyone always sits down when they get in the pod but that’s no way to see the city ! We walked straight in all the way to the other side and had the most amazing view of the city. Although Big Ben is under construction, it was still an incredible panoramic view.
From the London Eye, we headed to the West End since we had tickets to see Aladdin later on. For dinner we went to a chic pizza place called Franco Manca that was recommended to me by a fellow blogger. They specialized in various types of sourdough pizzas. My mom and I ordered the one with tomato, mozzarella and basil. It was delicious !! One pizza was plenty for two people and definitely hit the spot.
We still had time to kill so we did some shopping at the Primark on Oxford Street. It it like a heaven in there !! 4 floors of happiness. I knew I couldn’t buy a lot of clothes since I didn’t have room in my suitcase so I settled with a cardigan and a mini straighter (thank god they had one). We were still early to the theater but they let us to the bar upstairs where we had a drink before heading inside. We had pretty good seats that I was able to score off of the TodayTix app. Unfortunately I was so exhausted from being up for 2 days that I fell asleep during the show… embarassing, I know. But once the intermission came, I woke up and was able to see how amazing the show was.
My mom and I were so tired we slept til 11 ! We wanted to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace but it wasn’t physically possible for us. At 2:15 we had tickets for a tour at Buckingham Palace which was amazing. It was one of my favorite things to experience in London since I love history. You felt all the history walking through the palace and listening to everything. Although you were unable to take photos, I feel like if I was able to I would regret it since there was a lot to see. You got to walk through the main State Rooms like the one ballroom. The coolest part was the one secret passageway that was located behind a mirror. When I asked one of the guides how many secret doors there were in the palace she told me we had already past 6 of them ! 6 secret doors and the tour was only a third done. Crazy.
The end of the tour led you to the back of the palace where we grabbed a scone at the cafe and enjoyed the view. Before heading out we stopped by the gift shop and dropped a couple British Pounds on some souvenirs.
After Buckingham Palace we headed for Covent Garden and Jubilee Market. Covent Garden was by far my favorite place. There were so many different vendors with things from scarves to jewelry to stuff for your pet. There’s also many little shops within the 2 floors of the market. I bought so much tea and coffee it’s ridiculous. For dinner we decided to stay in the area and go to Davy’s Wine Bar. We both ordered the steak and a glass of Davy’s White Wine with some lemonade. Best meal of the trip ! The steak was so tender and the wine was refreshing.
Today was a slow start. We made friends with a cabby driver who offered to give us a tour of the city of the places we knew we weren’t going to be able to see like The Tower of London and The London Bridge. It took about an hour and a half but we saw so much of the city ! I have so much respect for the black cab drivers. They put in so much dedication and work into their job it’s so admirable. Since they don’t really do tours like this he allowed me to pay through the mytaxi app which took half off the fare for the weekend. The whole thing came to about £50 plus tip. He dropped us off at Portobello Road Market and was so appreciative of the tip we gave him that he got out and gave us both a hug. Sweetest person I met all trip! Something different goes on at this market every day, since it was a saturday it was antiques and crafts. It was a lot of walking but there were a lot of great finds. I bought myself a teacup from Alice’s and a warm scarf as well. I also tried these corkscrew fries that were pretty much a potato skewered on a stick. Simple but tasty.
After Portobello Road Market we headed to Fortnum & Mason where we had a reservation for Afternoon Tea. We still had an hour before our reservation so believe it or not we spent the whole time browsing and shopping. They had so many different types of coffee and tea to choose from. My bags were full as we took the elevator to the tea salon. The Afternoon Tea was served with various finger sandwiches, a plain and fruit scone and some mini desserts. We also each chose a type of tea we wanted. I wanted to try the peach black tea which was definitely a good choice. My mom really enjoyed the finger sandwiches and we were able to order another one of a certain item if we wanted to. I should have ordered another scone because they were delicious ! They were served with fresh clotted cream as well as our own jar of strawberry jam and lemon curd. We worked our way up the tier to the desserts but by then I was so full. We were able to take the desserts back along with a choice from their dessert carriage. Since we barely used the jam and lemon curd we asked if we could take those as well since they were going to get thrown out. Those desserts made a good late night snack by the way.
We didn’t have to be to the airport until 1pm so we wanted to go back to Covent Garden to do some last minute shopping. After, we grabbed out luggage and took a taxi to the airport. Since we ordered the taxi through the app again, it cost us only £26 to get there. This saved us a lot of money. We grabbed some fish and chips before boarding the plane and the rest of the day consisted of me sleeping like a baby. Overall it was a really nice trip with my mom and I can’t wait to go back. There’s still so much I haven’t seen like Abbey Road or Kings Cross Station (I’m a potterhead).
There’s one thing I wanted to share about the taxis here. We were told by multiple cabbies that Uber became illegal or that there were many problems with Uber in London since there have been a very high amount of sexual assaults from Uber drivers. Needless to say, we either took the underground or a taxi everywhere. We found it easier to take a taxi especially because they’re testing out a promotion through the mytaxi app where the fares are half price on the weekends from Friday to Sunday. This was definitely good to know since my mom felt safer taking a taxi than the tube.
Thanks for coming along with me on my adventure ! What was your favorite place to see in London?