London, England

After packing our entire lives for 3 weeks into a small (ok, kinda huge) backpack, mine ended up weighing 22 pounds. Sounds pretty heavy to carry on your back but these REI Backpacks come with great supportive straps and even for someone with a bad back like me it was completely fine. 

I departed from DTW and had a 3 hour layover in Boston, first time I’ve ever been there! I was so dreading the 6 hour flight to London but my flight was so empty that everyone had their own row and I was able to lay down! I watched a free movie, they fed us snacks, complimentary drinks, dinner and a small breakfast and I slept for three hours. It was actually the best flight ever.
 
Day 1: Alex and I were unfortunately on different flights but luckily both arrived in the same terminal in Heathrow only 30 minutes apart so it was super easy to find each other (that is, after being heavily questioned by customs about why we weren’t traveling together.. scary). We got our Oyster cards and hopped on the tube to our hostel to drop off our bags! For growing up in a city without a subway system, I’m so impressed with how well we navigated. The Underground is just so easy to use and I LOVE it. Living in a city with transportation like that would be so nice.

 

After dropping our bags, we headed back into the city centre to do some exploring. The weather was chilly and very windy but with blue skies! Always a plus. We walked around London by ourselves for a bit and were lucky enough that right as we walked out of the Underground and up to Buckingham Palace, the Changing of the Guards was starting! It was so fun to see.
 
Our first English meal obviously had to be fish & chips. But anyone who knows me knows I hate fish or seafood and I couldn’t even tell you the last time I ate it. But when in Rome right?! It was pretty good, but I didn’t end up eating all of it. Fish kinda weirds me out.
 
We were so tired so just laid down in the grass in Green Park. It was so pretty and relaxing although there was so much pollen in the air from St. James Park! We were blinded because the little hairs would get in your eyes… so painful. Later we did a free walking tour around the city done by a local who showed us Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and all the other famous places, as well as a few lesser known but equally cool spots – like the Clarence House, where Prince Harry lives! It was really cool and he told some great stories about every place.
  

After the tour ended, it was 5pm and the guide had mentioned that you can bypass the £20 fee to tour Westminster Abbey by going to the 5 o’clock worship service. So Al and I were like, hey let’s do it! Yes mom, I went to church. Sorry mom, I dozed off a little. Give me a break, we were running on 3 hours of sleep and walked miles and miles around town. But the Abbey was beautiful nonetheless! After, we grabbed some cheap takeaway sandwiches for dinner and headed back to our hostel for the night. We had a 14-bed female dorm and everyone was super quiet and kept to themselves, although we did chat a bit with two girls from Holland. Our beds had curtains around them which was super convenient and I was out like a light!
 
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Day 2: Even after one day we were baffled by how much money we were spending. Oyster cards, international SIM cards, food, tourist attractions.. It all adds up quick in an expensive city like London! So we set out in the morning for some cheap food. On our way to the grocery store in Camden near our hostel, we found the cutest cafe that had traditional English breakfast for only £4.50. Definitely a steal compared to other places. And it was a HUGE and delicious breakfast! I could have breakfast for every meal of the day and be happy, this one included. Baked beans on toast (so odd but don’t knock it till you try it), fried egg, mushrooms, tomatoes, sausage, bacon (not like our bacon) and of course, tea. It was delicious.
 
We ventured back into the city to do some things we were just too tired to see the day prior. We got off the tube right at Big Ben just to get another look because I’m seriously amazed at how beautiful it is. Then as we were walking to ride the London Eye, rain started pouring down … And blowing sideways with all the wind! Thank god for rain coats. And thank god Alex and I just laughed about it. We did the only thing you really can do during a rainstorm, hide in a pub and drink some lager & lime till it passes!
 
After it cleared up we rode the London Eye! Literally a bucket list item for me. I love ferris wheels and now I’ve been on two of the tallest, the Eye and the Linq and in Las Vegas – also with Alex! We obviously took an obscene amount of gopro pictures from the ride.
 
In typical English weather fashion, it started raining again. If you want to hide indoors, you have to spend money! We took the tube down to Oxford St and did some window shopping, sat in a Starbucks and stole their wifi for an hour, and then ate some Thai food. We had heard that Thai food in London is amazing?! I would’ve never thought. We ended up eating at one that was under remodel and had no sign outside (and we walked right past it) and it was tiny inside and you could hear construction going on next door.. Too funny, but they had good, cheap chow mein so I have no complaints.
 
We wanted to take the tube home at off-peak time so we wandered around Oxford st some more until 7:01 when the tube became half price. We got off back in Camden at a pub called The Beatrice to do the Camden Pub Crawl with the same company that led the free walking tour. They were so nice, I highly recommend Undiscovered London if you’re ever there! We went to three bars, met some great people from Australia, Utah, Canada and so many other cool places before calling it a night and heading home. The next morning we had the same incredible breakfast before saying goodbye to London! (at least until the end of our trip!)
   

 
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