We just returned from our first trip to Europe which included 4 nights in London and 4 nights in Dublin. We explored a bit around Ireland, too, but decided London had more than enough to see without leaving the city.
Many people arrive in London early in the morning, around 7am London time. Because we were meeting dad in Charlotte, and we all wanted to work most of the day we left, we took a later flight out of Charlotte which put us in London around Noon. Since this was the first overnight flight any of us had taken, I did tons of research on what to bring, how to fight jetlag, etc. Turns out, we did okay!
They fed us dinner on the flight, at around midnight Charlotte time. Mealtime takes forever so there was a lot of activity until 1:30am or so. At around 5am our time, the lights flipped back on and they were feeding us breakfast. The flight was less than 8 hours total and I think they were feeding us for 4 of them 🙂
I think not having to push through an entire day of no sleep helped (ie, not 7am-bedtime) – we just had to do 1pm-bedtime. A huge difference when you’re sleep deprived!
We checked into our hotel, changed clothes, and immediately scurried down to Tower of London.
Let me first say that Londoners are extremely helpful and friendly – right off the bat, we were trying to figure out the Oyster card system and several stopped to help us. That scenario repeated itself the entire trip.
I wanted to see all the historical sites but they are 1) pricey and 2) time consuming. But Tower of London was a must! I mean, I did watch The Tudors on Netflix so I’m practically an expert.
I had read that the tours were worth the time and though I’m usually “leave me alone and let me read it myself” when checking out new places, I’m SO glad we did the (free) tour! They are led by Beefeaters and ours was hilarious! He had that dry British humor we all love.
When you attend a tour, you get to visit the Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula, but no photos are allowed inside. It’s absolutely stunning inside – it killed me to not get to take pictures. Anne Boleyn and many others executed at the Tower are buried inside. The church holds regular services that are open to the public but otherwise, you must be on a tour to visit. Another reason why to take the tour!
People still live inside the tower walls, including the Beefeaters and their families. Cool, right?
A memorial, noting where the scaffolding once sat:
The ceiling inside one of the doorways:
I’m so glad we made time to visit, even if it was on arrival day. So much history – and it’s incredible to see things in person that you’ve read about for years.
Tower of London is, obviously, located near the Tower Bridge. Gorgeous!
I had noted a few restaurants nearby so we walked over to St. Katherine’s Docks to The Slug and Lettuce. Because with a name that cool, it must be good.
I ordered the chicken tikka makhani, because I can’t not order Indian food.
Dad ordered fish and chips
And Jason ordered grilled chicken skewers with beetroot hummus
Who said the British don’t have good food?
The lack of sleep was catching up with us so we decided to call it a day and head back to the hotel.
We got a great deal on a hotel/airfare package but that meant we had limited hotel options. Thankfully, the London hotel was fantastic. It was located in a more neighborhood setting (in Fitzrovia), not far from The British Museum. We had 2 tube stations 3 minutes away and lots of bus stops, plus great restaurants and stores.
We soon found that European hotels categorize rooms as single and double and they mean it. We had a double bed in both countries (a big change from a king!). I used a wide angle so the room appears much larger than it was 🙂
And dad had, well, a single bed.
In both countries, you inserted your room key in a thing on the wall to turn on the electricity. Strange, but not a big deal unless you want to charge something while you’re out of the room.
Steps walked in a half-day in London: