I was lucky enough to spend nine full days in London a few years back. This was my first stop on my month long (solo) jaunt through the British Isles. London is a fast paced city with much to see and do, so how did I spend my time when I only had nine days?
I arrived in London at about 8:30 in the morning local time. I hadn’t slept at all on the flight over. I had a short layover in Dublin, so I had already gone through customs. My first few hours are kind of a jet lagged fueled blur. I grabbed an Oyster card at the airport, and hopped on the tube on my way to Hammersmith.
I was so tired that first day in London. Later in the afternoon I did head into the city to explore a bit. I took the train to Piccadilly Circus and just explored for a few hours. It’s a very touristy place to visit, but it wasn’t far from parks and, of course, Big Ben itself.
Once I made it through that fist day, my time in London went much more smoothly.
I visited Abbey Road and signed my name on the wall outside the studios and explored the neighborhood a bit. A system on canals runs through this neighborhood reminding me of Venice.
The lines may be unbelievably long and packed full os tourists, but I still think this is a must see and do. How else are you going to get the amazing views on London?
The entire ride lasts about 20 minutes and costs £20 (roughly $40 USD).
Buckingham Palace and The Changing of the Guards
I was in London during the craziness of everyone waiting for Kate Middleton to give birth. There were always large crowds around the palace waiting for the official announcement.
Buckingham Palace was a cool place to visit and see, but it’s not something I would probably visit again. If you go to to witness the Changing of the Guards, be prepared for massive crowds and get there early if you want a good view. Here is an excerpt from my experience:
My experience at this certain event was….how shall we put it….somewhat unpleasant. I guess it’s to be expected when you pack hundreds of insane tourists, who have their own agendas, together. And sorry kids! Why do you think you get to be in front and able to see it all? Move over, the the 7 foot tall giant man who wants to see it more than you do is on his way!
I actually started out with a good view. Then was slowly pushed back. That 7 foot tall giant may not have been 7 feet tall, but he had a good foot on me. Did he really need to pummel me over and then proceed to hit me in the head with his camera strap?? He will definatley be receiving a copy of my “How to be the Perfect Tourist” guidebook. I almost just walked away, but you couldn’t get out. You were surrounded by tons of crazy eyed, camera waving, psychotic tourists.
But nevertheless, it was a cool experience. Will I do it again? I think not. But check out some of my pictures I managed to get!
Most of my pictures I got, I might add, were from my zooming in and jumping up as high as I could. Thanks to the 7 foot tall man.
Again, be prepared for crowds. I went much later than I had planned to, but it worked out in the end. Most of the food vendors slash their prices way down close to closing time. I managed to get a delicious sandwich and water for around $3 USD. Not too shabby.
There are about 100 vendors that line the street. They sell a variety of things from books, antiques, and food.
The British Museum
This was a fun day. I went towards the end of my time in London, and I wanted to do something to escape the heat. I spent a few hours wandering around the exhibits. The museum itself is free to enter, but there are donation bins at every entrance/exit.
Also, make sure you check out the Reading Room….because I was an idiot and din’t go inside. I still regret it and it will be the first stop I make when I return to London.
The Tower of London
If you like history like I do, then this is a must see. Once inside, I took an Yeoman guided tour. They are at no extra cost and last about an hour. I would highly recommend taking this opportunity. They are very insightful and knowledgeable, and as mine was, very funny.
And this is also where I waited in the longest line I have ever seen. To view the Crown Jewels. Pictures are not allowed once inside the building. I saw a lot of gold. A lot of jewels. And a lot of purple velvet.
Other Honorable Mentions
Neal’s Yard: your one stop shop for all your natural and organic needs.
Trafalgar Square: for all your people watching needs.
Parliament and Big Ben: because you have to see it!
There was so much that I saw and did that If I told you about it all, this post would be as long as a novel. But, I cannot wait to go back and explore all that I didn’t have time for. So, until next time, London!