We arrived back in London later that afternoon and took a taxi to our final airbnb. I'll mention here that I loved the British taxis! They felt like stepping back in time and all our cab drivers were friendly and funny. We headed straight to an area called Covent Garden via the tube. We didn't have enough time our first 2 days in London to figure out the tube but this half in London we did! One of the best planning decisions I made was to get visitor Oyster cards for us. We put $30 on it for our trip and it was just enough to travel on the tube for 3 full days. The tube was so easy to use and navigate that Joe and I actually really liked using it to get around.
Covent Garden was full of shopping, food, and street performers that we thoroughly enjoyed. It felt very British with smaller roads, tiny shops, and locals everywhere.
Joe found a cigar and pipe shop named Segar & Snuff that reminded me of the wand shop in Harry Potter.
Joe got a handmade pipe here as his souvenir from London.
In Covent Garden, there is a small part called Neal's Yard. It's a colorful, quaint little section and is where we ate dinner.
Homeslice Pizza was a wood fired pizza place with the most amazing pizza I think I've ever had. We all split a huge salami, rocket, parmesan pizza and enjoyed talking with the locals seated at the table with us.
After dinner, we walked around the area some more and watched the street performers.
On Sunday, we headed straight to the Tower of London. I highly suggest the Yeoman Warder's tour here. It was so interesting and very entertaining! We loved it.
We of course stood in line to see the Crown Jewels and then climbed our way into the Bloody Tower. For lunch we got bratwurst on fresh baquettes from a little cart at the Tower of London. Next, we made our way over to Buckingham Palace. This was something we felt we needed to see for our first time in London but you really just look at it and then leave.
From here, my parents headed to the Churchill War Rooms and Joe and I left for Kensington Palace. At the station where we got off, there was a Tardis looking police box so I had to get a photo!
We then took the tour of Kensington and saw a few different sections of the palace.
It ended with a display of the fashion from Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret, and Princess Diana. I loved this wallpaper in the hallway!
It turned out to be a nice day so we enjoyed the gardens. Everywhere in London you could rent bicycles and return them at many stations throughout the city. We rented some at Kensington and rode around the gardens for a little bit. We watched families having picnics, getting ice cream, riding bikes, and riding a small carousel. Joe and I concluded that we would definitely come here on the weekends if we lived in London!
We met back up with my parents at The Volunteer, a pub on Baker Street. I got the roast beef and potatoes, but it wasn't my favorite on the trip. Since we were right next door, we had to take a photo of Sherlock Holmes address 221b Baker Street.
From here, we walked up to Abbey Road since Joe is a huge Beatles fan. This was disappointing since a large group of people were on either side trying to take photos along the crosswalk. Joe settled for a photo in front of Abbey Road Studios instead!
We were all hungry for dessert so we headed back to Covent Garden and got Shake Shack milkshakes. Not very British but delicious! That night Joe and my dad headed to a local pub while my mom and I relaxed at the flat.
Our last day in London came much too quickly. We woke up early and took the tube to Westminster Abbey. We ate breakfast first at an attached restaurant called The Cellarium Cafe. I got the french toast and bacon and Joe got a bacon sandwhich with a pot of earl grey tea. We took the audio guide tour through Westminster and enjoyed learning about the history of the place and who was buried there.
A local had told us to check out Camden Market so we did around lunch time. It was hectic and reminded us of Chinatown in NYC. None of us really enjoyed it so we left after only 45 minutes. I wouldn't recommend checking it out. We also tried to head to Leadenhall Market but this was closed because it was a bank holiday. By this time we were ready for lunch so we stopped at Temple Brew House.
We knew we wanted to do some shopping on our last day so we headed back toward the Covent Garden area again. Did I mention we loved this part of London? A few of the shops we enjoyed were Cath Kidston, John Lewis, Topman, and an area of old bookstores including a shop called Alice through the Looking Glass (this was closed but it looked very cool through the window). I got an adorable tote bag and dishtowel from the gift section of John Lewis off of Oxford Street.
Joe and my dad got some cool British icon socks from Topman featuring airplanes, taxi cabs, and the british flag.
After we were done shopping, we were ready for dinner. Our final dinner in London was at Nandos which several people had recommended to me. We all split a lemon & herb roast chicken with french fries. It was very good and one of the only places we visited with free drink refills! For dessert, we found a Wafflemeister and got delicious waffles with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.
On our way back to the flat, we made one last stop for me. King's Cross Station. I had to do the nerdy thing and get a photo at Platform 9 3/4 to end our last night.
It didn't rain one drop on our whole trip, but as we took off to head home it started raining. We couldn't have asked for a better trip! We all loved London the best, even though Paris was great, and Joe and I said we would definitely move to London for a year if we could. I'm already thinking about where we could travel to next :)
To recap, here were our top 5 things from London and Paris:
- Saint Germain de Pres
- Seine River Cruise
- Perfume shop
- Eiffel tower and Paris at night
- Covent Garden
- Tower of London
- Kensington Palace
- The pubs