Our time in London was, overall, much more relaxed than Paris, something we hadn’t been expecting.
We stayed in St. Christopher’s Camden and loved it! There is a bar in the bottom of the hostel we went to almost every night just to grab a drink and hang out. It seemed like some locals actually go to the bar too, along with most people from the hostel so it can be a nice mix of people all from different places. There was also a pub-crawl starting at the hostel. We didn’t do it but it sounded fun!
We stayed in an 8-person mixed-dorm room, and our roommates the first night were an American from Washington D.C., a Brazilian couple, two French guys and one guy we never met because I’m guessing he only came in to sleep. I loved staying in a larger room (in Paris we had a room by ourselves with no roommates) because it automatically gave us a chance to meet people from somewhere new and learn things about them.
Our Brazilian friends told us an iPhone cost about £500 here, which is about $750 we think! That blew our mind because they are relatively cheap in the states.
Our first full day out, we went to Camden Market, a local market very close to our hostel that is held in old horse stables. It was so fun! The booths all had some similar things but every once in a while you’d find something unique and special at a booth. The atmosphere was just really fun and we got a chance to try haggling with sellers, although I don’t think we were very good at it.
After that we headed into the more central area of London and started sight-seeing! We went first to Trafalgar Square and went inside the National Gallery.
then, we started to walk to Big Ben and found the horse guard building and came across a special ceremony remembering fallen soldiers in the British guard. We talked to a guard later and found out this ceremony happens once a year. And we just happened to stumble across it at exactly the right time.
As in Paris, the best things have tended to happen to us at times like this, when we are looking for something different.
We did a lot in London. We made a list and it’s pretty long.
But one of my favorite moments was when we were looking for Kensington Palace, where Princess Diana used to live, and found a beautiful, sunny (which was rare on this trip) spot in Kensington Gardens. It was a spot with trees and grass lining the road and the sun was golden and shining, right before sunset. It had been cold pretty much the entire trip, so when we felt this warmth, we took the chance to sit down in the grass and just relax for a second. It was so peaceful. Plus we were in this park with people walking their dogs and jogging. It didn’t feel like we were tourists…for once. It was nice.
We felt less rushed to see sights in London. We had more time to get dressed up and go out. We met so many nice people and saw so much while also just getting to relax, like we were actually on vacation!
I am sad to leave London. It is a really fun city with lots to do and a great atmosphere. The people were very helpful and fun and I feel like it will hold a special place in my heart.
But we have to move on. We’re on the train to the airport to go to Amsterdam now. It’s all part of our trip – just when we get used to a city and want to stay, our time there is gone and we have to jump on the next plane. I’ve realized I will definitely want to return to London, and not just because we missed a few sights on our list. I can’t wait to come back just for fun.
Now on to the Netherlands!
Must-do’s in London:
– Eat at an authentic British pub and try a British beer
– Camden Market
– Kensington Gardens
– Bring warm clothes (scarves!)
– St. James’s Park
– Changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace (11 a.m. every day, just a cool thing to see)
– Big Ben (of course)
– Oxford Street/Circus (shopping!)
– Ben’s cookies (SO good. thanks to my friend Brennan for the suggestion)
– If you’re on a budget, I recommend St. Christopher’s Camden – or even if you’re not trying to save money (the bartenders and staff are very cool and helpful and it’s a great location)