Technically Day 1 in London was Day 2 of the trip. Coming from North or South America, you understand the struggle of international travel, you leave, say Friday and arrive Saturday morning. Good luck sleeping on the plane! I actually had an entire row to myself on the plane which was nice but for whatever reason I had body pain the entire flight that kept me from sleeping as deep as I would have liked. I was on a different flight than Joe, I had to fly into Amsterdam then take a “domestic” flight to London. My London flight got delayed because the radar systems were down due to the storm and the planes were taking off without radar. We ended up waiting in a line of planes for around an hour. I had some issues with the trains when I got to London so when it was all said and done I didnt get to the hotel until after 2pm…I left Houston 3pm the day before. Yeah it was a long day.
Our goal that day was to see Hyde Park, Kensington Palace & Gardens, Buckingham Palace, Harrods, Victoria & Albert Museum, Natural History Museum, Notting Hill, Piccadilly Circus, and have afternoon tea. Seeing as we lost 2 hours of daylight we didn’t get to do half of this list. We also didn’t take into account the fact that it gets dark in London much sooner than back home. The sun was fully set at 5pm. That made seeing things difficult but we managed.
Day 1 we ended up walking through Kensington Gardens (the Palace closed around 4pm we had to skip it to make tea) for a while up to the tube which we then took to afternoon tea (review here). After tea it was black outside so we went to Piccadilly Circus, the Disney Store and Harrods. After Harrods I still wanted to see Buckingham Palace so we went there to take some night pictures just in case we wouldn’t have time to come again. I decided I wasn’t sad about missing the museums, those really aren’t my thing and I get really bored walking around museums. Sorry to all you history or museum buffs out there. Not a lot in day 1 but that’s what we did, I bet you want to know more though right!?
Kensington Gardens: While we only saw a little of the gardens (size wise think Central Park New York) I was very impressed. Being it was January I thought the gardens would be brown and dead and sad. To my surprise the grass was still green, the trees were large and gorgeous and just overall very well manicured. For me, I love a clean garden. By clean I mean not overrun with brush and wild growth, plenty of trees but doesn’t feel like a scary forest. There were plenty of statues, fountains, lakes, and beautiful trails. I’m really sad I didn’t get to run in here (our hotel was across the street from an entrance), but it didn’t get light out until around 8am and I had to get my runs in before that. I value my safety and wont run in a park in the dark no matter how pretty that park might be. We walked in the gardens a few other times and overall I have to say it was very peaceful and an enjoyable walk. I love nature and while it may not seem like a tourist destination it was one of the more memorable parts of the trip.
Piccadilly Circus, Disney Store and Harrods: OMG this area is SO CROWDED! I didn’t take any pictures because we were just trying to walk the streets without losing each other in the crowds. There were so many stores along the streets with a good mix of high end and regular stores. Disney Store was about the size of San Francisco if you have been to that location before but their location specific merchandise was pathetic. I usually try and get something from each city but I was extremely under-whelmed with the offerings. I didn’t bring anything back from here. Shocker I know! Harrods was not what I expected, the entrance we went in was super fancy upscale women’s clothing. I was scared to touch anything being around labels like Marc Jacobs and Valentino. We quickly found the home goods area and picked up the UK version of Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban. There were some other cute Harrods specific items but Joe and I both felt like it would just be buying something to say we bought something and thats not really a good use of money. I don’t really get what the hype is all about, and I’m ok with that. I was super temped to get a burberry scarf but I resisted. We did walk by a Ferarri store which Joe was excited about so thats the only pic I have from this area.
Buckingham Palace: After Harrods it was getting late but I still wanted to see Buckingham Palace because I wasn’t sure we would have time again to go by. We had a kinda scary walk through the dark park and found the palace. Guys…I was seriously underwhelmed. I mean, I’ve seen pictures of it before and all, I don’t know why I was not impressed but there you have it. The gates are more impressive than the exterior building. I’m sure its beautiful on the inside but come on, make the exterior just as grand. The White House is more impressive. Anyways, I digress. There were very few people around which was nice so we took some pictures then headed back to the hotel.
I hate to admit this but we were in bed at 9pm. We were wiped out and really needed to get some good rest to have energy for the next day. Most of the stores and restaurants closed around 8pm anyway so we werent really missing out. Day 1 had its struggles (plane delays say what!, getting dark at 5pm!) but we got as much in as we could. We had high hopes for day 2, stay tuned 🙂
CHIME IN!!! Have you been to London before? Do you run in parks at night? Do you think a palace should look amazing inside and out? Any travel plans in the future?