A lot 0f people made, “Say hi to the Queen for me!” jokes as we packed our bags and left beautiful Reykjavik for the hustle and bustle of London. We were sad to say goodbye to Iceland, a country that had stolen our hearts, but excited for the next stop on our adventure.
We visted London and Liverpool, spending only a few days in the country in total — but we thought it was the perfect amount of time for everything we wanted to do.
England: A Recap
We landed in Luton in the morning and took a bus into the city. Thanks to a friend, Kate, we had a place to stay on Friday night, but she couldn’t meet up until much later, so we navigated the tube and walked around the city. We visited Parliament’s Square and saw Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and the Eye. Keep in mind: We did all of this while wearing our ginormous backpacks, so we were pretty exhausted after walking around for an hour or so.
We parked at a Starbucks for a bit and had dinner at a nice little Italian place before meeting up with Kate. She took us back to her flat and we visited for a while and planned out the following day — and let me tell you, it was going to be a long one.
We woke up early and started at Portabello Market, an outdoor shopping area that has everything from freshly made food to sterling silver rings to dresses to old-fashioned cameras. It’s also famous because parts of the movie “Notting Hill” were filmed there. A quick stroll through there was plenty for us since we’re on a tight budget.
Up next: Abbey Road and Platform 9 3/4. Necessary stops, but really only about the photo op.
We took a walk through Hyde Park to visit Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace. We only had time to go inside Kensington Palace, which is where Prince William and Kate Middleton live, and it was quite beautiful.
To finish off our day, we stopped by Piccadilly Circus, a place that reminded us both of Times Square. Again, this was more of a quick walk-through for us, but worth seeing nonetheless. By the end of the day, we realized three things: We’d walked a total of eight miles, we’d used every line on the tube, and we hadn’t even thought about visiting Wales while in the UK. Oops.
The next morning, we went to Westminster Abbey for a service, which was lovely (and a free way to get in!). After that, we hopped on a bus to Liverpool — and I won’t say too much about that because I wrote a blog about how much it meant to me to see the hometown of The Beatles, which you can read here.
But I will say that Andi and I are really enjoying the bus rides through the country. We usually get a row each to ourselves, so we sprawl out and get some much-needed alone time to rest and relax. Most buses are equipped with wifi, so sometimes we’ll work on plans for the second leg of our trip (which isn’t completely finished being figured out) or watch Netflix or call home. Often, we both read or write postcards home. The best part about these peaceful rides is that they’re accompanied by beautiful landscapes, especially green grasses and trees in the United Kingdom that can absolutely take your breath away.
Things I’ve Learned
- Staying in a hostel allows you to meet some really awesome people (blog about that coming soon!).
- I can go a really long time without washing my hair. Not sure if that’s a blessing or a curse.
- Putting down your phone for a second and looking at what’s around you, taking it in with no other distractions, is a discipline — an important one.
- Being able to sit in silence with someone is a beautiful thing. I’m glad Andi and I are on that level.
- Our average walking distance each day is probably going to be five or six miles and I’m just going to have to accept that (and hope my feet get used to it).
- We just realized the other day that the way we booked our trip, we’ll only have eight hours in Copenhagen. Learning to navigate that has been interesting, but manageable.
Tips for Travel in England
- Using the tube is easier than you might expect, so just do it. It saves on cost and is a quintessential London experience.
- Instead of paying to get in to Westminster Abbey, just go to a service for free. That way, you get to experience the church and get in for free.
- Take the time to go to Liverpool. It provides a completely different vibe than London and it’s cool to see where The Beatles got started.
- Stroll through Hyde Park in London. It’s a huge, gorgeous park that can provide you an oasis from the city if you need a quiet moment.
- And of course, my “When I Return” list: Go to Wales for a day or two (why not add another country to my list?), see London Bridge and the London Tower, go to Manchester (it was a blessing in disguise that we weren’t there this time, prayers to the victims of the bombing)