Day 1 - Wimbledon & ShoppingWe knew we wanted to go to London at some point while we were living in Stockholm. I had been there once before about 12 years ago on a high school trip but we were only there for about a day and a half. Three years ago Jake was in London for about 24 hours on his way home from a work trip in Germany. It was fun to go back and see things together that we both saw on our separate trips.
We flew to London on Saturday, March 22nd at 7:00 am. Our early flight wasn't much fun to get up for but it meant we had an almost full day in London which was great. We did have to plan when we were going to leave for the airport a little more than we usually would since the metro doesn't run as often that early in the morning. And even after we planned Jake forgot something and had to run back to get it which meant we missed the first metro and had to wait for the second one but we caught the Flygbussarna (Airport Buses) in enough time before it left. Recently we have been taking the Flygbussarna to get to the airport. It is about a 10 minute metro ride to the Flygbuss stop and then a 40 minute bus ride to the airport. The bus is about $15 per person and it has free wifi if you want to surf the web and don't have internet on your phone.
From the time our bus dropped us off we had about an hour until our flight left which was plenty of time since we packed in backpacks for this trip and didn't have to check any bags! I have a feeling we will be packing in backpacks whenever it is possible because it is so easy to get around without having to drag luggage behind us.
Our first stop once we landed was to hop on a train to see Wimbledon. Jake has always loved watching the major tennis matches and since we were so close to Wimbledon we thought we would take a tour. It was a lot of fun walking around and seeing the tennis courts and behind the scenes of Wimbledon. The tour was about an hour and a half and then we had time to visit the tennis museum. There are 19 courts total including Number 1 Court and Center Court which is where they play the championship match during Wimbledon. The facilities are actually called the All England Club Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club but they have the Wimbledon Championship there every year which is the oldest tennis tournament in the world. There are about 500 members of the club that can play tennis there when the weather is nice enough to allow them to play outside but the main use for the facilities is the 2 week tennis tournament every June.
|Apparently you are supposed to eat strawberries and cream at Wimbledon so we had some for lunch :).|
|We decided to just take a picture of other people and then Jake took a picture of me walking across.|
|We took a public double decker bus downtown while we watched all the red buses zooming around and of course we stopped to take a cheesy picture in a red telephone booth :).|
We grabbed dinner at a Mexican restaurant all so I could enjoy some chips and queso! While we were walking around we stumbled upon the Icebar London which is run by the same company that started the Ice Hotel that we stayed at last month. We did a little bit of shopping on Saturday night. I was really excited because London has a Uniqlo store which is the same store I found lots of great things at in Taiwan. Unfortunately, I didn't find much this time but it was still fun. It was strange walking around seeing stores that I'm used to shopping at in Olathe (Gap, Banana Republic) right next to stores I'm used to seeing now when I shop in Stockholm (Gant, H&M). I will say London has many more choices than Stockholm but I was really only interested in going to Uniqlo and finding some Hunter boot cleaning spray to bring back to clean my rain boots. We walked through Piccadilly Circus which I remember from my trip to London 12 years ago.
On our first night we stayed at a Marriott, in maybe not the best part of town. I felt safe in the hotel but walking around at night made me a little nervous. We stayed there because we could earn one night free in a Marriott for every two nights we stay at a different Marriott so we decided to stay in one our first night even though it was a little bit further away from the city. (I feel like we sound cheap but with all of the traveling we are hoping to do this year on a mostly one income budget we just have to be practical.)
Day 2 - Bike Tour and the Tower of London
We packed up our backpacks and grabbed some breakfast at Raffles on our way to our next hotel. The next hotel was The Blakemore at Hyde Park. It was a cute little hotel in a better part of town that had free breakfast and free wifi. What more could you ask for? We dropped off our backpacks and headed to our bike tour.
I have really enjoyed taking Segway tours in new cities because they are fun, you get to see a lot in a short amount of time and you learn more than you would just walking around on your own. I was sad to learn that London doesn't allow Segways so we opted for a bicycle tour. It was a great tour. Our guide was funny and really nice. There were 8 people on the tour plus the guide. We saw most of the major landmarks in the city and a few other places.
|Houses of Parliament|
|Big Ben with a red double decker bus on the bridge. Ben is actually the name of the bell in the tower.|
About halfway through the tour we stopped for a 45 minute break. We had some really good muffins at Muffinski's and watched some street performers. Then we stopped by a wig shop that also makes all the royal robes. We went through Gough Square to see the house of Samuel Johnson, who wrote one of the first English dictionaries. He apparently had a cat that he loved and fed oysters to so there was a statue in the square honoring him with a cat sitting on a dictionary with an oyster shell on top. (Gough is the last name of one of my friends who was in London with me 12 years ago so I took a picture of the sign.)
|St. Paul's Cathedral|
|Our last stop was the Millennium Bridge.|
|Jake recorded our bike tour on his Garmin watch. Here is the track but if you would like to see more info click here.|
We decided since it was sunny and not raining we would go see the Tower of London since it has several parts to see outside and it was such a nice day. Jake went to the Tower of London a few years ago but I hadn't been there.
We walked through a few of the tours and saw the Crown Jewels before we left. One of my favorite things to see while we were there was the Tower Bridge. I couldn't take enough pictures of it. Maybe it was the cloudy sky and the sunset that contributed but I loved looking at the Tower Bridge.
Unfortunately, once we got there it was getting pretty dark and by the time we figured out how to get to the Greenwich Meridian it was dark and the area they have marked was closed. We still walked through the park and up the hill to the line even though the park was closing in less than 10 minutes and I was paranoid about being locked in overnight. They had a green laser beam marking the line in the sky.
We took the ferry back to downtown London before taking the tube to our hotel. We decided to take the ferry as far as we could so we could see London at night and it was beautiful.
|So I might have a small obsession with the Tower Bridge but look at it.|
|Top Picture: Tower of London and the Tower Bridge, Bottom left: St. Paul's Cathedral, Bottom Right: The London Eye|
|Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament|
If you want to read about our last two days in London which includes our tour of The Making of Harry Potter which was awesome click here!