:: London, England – Off the Beaten Path

When my friend from the US called me and said she was heading to London, England for a long weekend, I was sure to start checking for cheap flights. Since my family lives in England, it’s been high on my “to do” list to take a trip here and her visit was just what I needed to pick a date to go. I managed to find a flight from Wroclaw to England for about 50 USD.

My friend and I have both been to London before and were, therefore, able to explore more of the neighborhoods of London rather than use our time visiting only the tourist attractions. Granted, we did go to a few tourist hotspots (I mean, who can go to England and not visit Buckingham Palace?!) But it was honestly really refreshing to see some of the city I haven’t explored before. Here’s a look.
 

We stayed in the Hyde Park area, which was really close to the Tube (what London calls their subway). The Tube here is really easy to use and can get you to anywhere in London worth going to. Note that it closes pretty early, about 11 p.m. on the weekends, so be prepared to take a cab home if you’re out late. Oh and most of the pubs close early, too, which is a big change from Wroclaw where the bars are open until you feel like leaving. There are clubs open past midnight, but you’ll pay cover. Don’t say you haven’t been warned 😉
Anyways, enough about that, let’s move on to the fun parts! Our Saturday morning was spent in Notting Hill. LOVE this area! I just kept waiting for Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant to come around the corner. We found this AMAZING antique market that lined Portobello Street. You know I love antiques and I just wished I had checked a bag to bring everything home with me! Seriously, go to this market and spend at least two hours here. Even if you can’t buy anything this was the highlight of my trip. Here is a link to the market’s website. 
This market has everything from antique shave kits to letterpress materials.
and antique sports gear.
Oh, and more silverware than you could ever need.
Not to mention, the architecture here is just fab.
Here is a store that had rows and rows of antique sewing machines. How cool is that?
Plus, this market has cat paintings, so there’s that.

Also, a scene from the movie Love Actually was filmed around here (at St Luke’s Mews).

After our Notting Hill market exploration, we took a subway ride to see Big Ben/Parliament/the London Eye. Again, we didn’t feel the need to physically tour here since we had done so before but we just wanted to get some photos and hit up some of the pubs here.
If you walk around the side of Parliament away from the river, you can find the most incredible views.
We even saw a protest group wearing some Guy Fawkes masks.
Masks aside, this is just such a beautiful part of the city that is worth seeing time and time again.
Our first evening concluded with a walk through Piccadilly Circus – London’s ‘Times Square.’
Our Sunday was then spent exploring the Chelsea area. The homes here are just unbeleivable. If you have a few hours, seriously come here. You can’t even imagine the four story, multimillion dollar townhouses and the Bentleys that sit out in the drives. Really just stunning. It’s nice to have something to aspire to…or, maybe just be jealous of 😉
And, there are some fun pubs and sweet shops here in Chelsea as well.
We then ventured through Trafalgar Square…
There is a blue rooster in front of the building with Canadian flags flying here. I wish I was lying.
We also felt that we just had to see Buckingham Palace so off we went 🙂
If it’s your first time in London, go to see the changing of the guards. We did not do this on this trip but it is just a lovely ritual worth seeing at least once. Check the times before you go.
Oh and here is the only photo of me actually in London…I have no idea why but we did not take any photos of us. Don’t do this on any vacation. Now I just have a weird selfie from London.
We all know this Palace is stunning but can we talk for a minute though as to why they don’t have any Royal grounds out front and it’s more of just a high school track?
Regardless, it is still very beautiful here. If you look closely beyond the sunset below, you can see the London Eye ferris wheel. How romantic! Or at least it could be if I wasn’t with a friend 😉
And with that, our weekend in London came to an end. And on Monday morning, I was off to the King’s Cross train station to Grandma’s house in the English countryside 🙂
Before I end my post, here are some other things worth knowing before you go to London:
-The USD to British Pound exchange rate isn’t too great right now and London is super expensive. So even just eating and drinking for a long weekend in London will cost you. Budget accordingly. I mean fish and chips in the city are at least 12 British Pounds (umm that’s 20 USD for some frozen fish and french fries).
– Buy a Tube Day pass when you get there. If you are from the US and don’t have a chip in your credit card, the automatic ticket machines won’t work. You will have to go to the service booth at the stations and they can run your card for you.
– Tipping seems a bit debated in London but here’s a link that helps explain how it works.
– Buy any rail travel in advance. It will be about half price. Oops.
– If you are flying RyanAir/Wizz Air to London Stansted airport, take the train into the city. It has free internet and runs every 20 minutes. It’s a bit more than the bus but oh so worth it. I mean, it even has a snack cart.
And take a picture of the iconic phone booths. They’re so London.

5 thoughts on “:: London, England – Off the Beaten Path

  1. Great blog in general but if you want to really explore London neighborhoods I would suggest venturing a bit further than Notting Hill and Chelsea. These are overpriced hot-spots as touristy as Buckingham Palace itself 😉
    Go south of the river, visit Brixton, Clapham, Tooting see the real London.
    Gregor

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