As part II of our trip, we took the Eurostar over to London! Read part I of our trip here. Minus a bit of a delay, I couldn’t believe how easy taking the Eurostar between Paris and London was. I should also mention that we were able to bring our Insidr cell phone with us to London with no issue switching between countries. We used it as our phone and mobile hotspot for the rest of the trip!
Thursday – Day One
When we arrived in London, we went and dropped our stuff off at our Airbnb, and promptly headed to the nearest pub (across the street) for some food. The bartender quickly explained to us some very important advice: “chips” are like American steak fries. “Fries” are like thin, McDonald’s fries. So there you have it!
We were so excited to start exploring that we went straight to Bond Street for some window shopping! We made our way through the shops there, and ended up right in Soho. I wanted to visit this store called the House of MinaLima– it’s the storefront for the graphic designers of the Harry Potter movie series! Every bit of HP paraphernalia from the movies, from the Daily Prophet covers to the Hogwarts letters Harry receives, was created by the two designers. We spent forever in here talking to the staff and looking at the posters. It was pretty spectacular.
Later that afternoon we ended up seeing a movie (HA!). We both hadn’t see The Avengers yet and really needed to give our feet a break. I know, I know. WE WERE ON VACATION, OKAY?
We had a late dinner at Gymkhana, which is a really unique and contemporary Indian restaurant. The service was great and the place was packed! And the food was really good.
Friday – Day Two
The next morning we got up bright and early to do some sightseeing. Our Airbnb was right by Buckingham Palace so we went there first! The Changing of the Guard just happened to be starting when we got there, so we got to see that (which took forever but was pretty cool).
We strolled over to Westminster Abbey but didn’t go inside (it was like $25 per person to enter! No way. We’ve seen enough churches). It was still gorgeous from the outside!
We also went to the V&A Museum this day. We really loved this one; it’s free to enter and is right off the Tube!
We went to one exhibit in particular that we really liked: The Future Starts Here. It was all about the future and how technology has changed everything so far and is continuing to do so more than we know. It’s probably the only exhibit Idan and I have been to that we read literally every single word from every single plaque. That exhibit cost extra but we both thought it was well worth it!
We also really loved the castings room at the V&A Museum. Even though they weren’t the real deals, it was still a gorgeous room and it was cool to see all the statues!
Friday night we ended up getting Indian food for dinner… again. We went to Masala Zone in Soho and really loved it!
Saturday – Day Three
Saturday was Royal Wedding Day! Idan and I had assumed that every pub in town would be open and showing it… after all, it’s an event that won’t happen again for another 20 years or so! Alas, we walked around for about 3 miles and NOT ONE PUB was showing it. We finally found one in Soho but they were only showing it on tiny TVs and they wouldn’t turn on the sound. So, we resorted to Planet Hollywood. With all of the other US tourists. Ha!
Earlier in the trip, Idan surprised me by telling me he got us tickets to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child!! If you couldn’t tell from my outburst about the store above, I am a Harry Potter fanatic. Always have been, always will be. So you can imagine how excited I was that he got these tickets!
It was honestly the best play I’ve ever seen. The special effects were out of this world. You definitely need a knowledge of Harry Potter before going to see it, so I recommend at least watching the movies before you go (if not taking a Harry Potter literature class in college, like myself ?).
In between the two parts of the play, we had a dinner break, so we went shopping at Liberty London (the most gorgeous department store I’ve ever seen), and got a quick bite.
Sunday – Day Four
On Sunday, we went on an entire-day-long tour of England. The tour was literally called “England in One Day” and spanned Stonehenge, Bath, The Cotswolds, and Stratford-Upon-Avon. We left at 8am and returned at 8pm! Looong day, and lots of time on a bus, but totally worth it.
Stonehenge rocked! Sorry.
I deeply regret that the above picture is the only one I took of Bath. And the lemonade girl doesn’t look very enthusiastic about her job.
However, Bath was our favorite part of this day! It was the most charming town, and Idan and I kept saying we’d love to come back for an entire summer. We said that about Giverny, France, too, but I think we liked Bath even more. We definitely wish we had had more time here!
Stratford-Upon-Avon was our last stop on the tour, and it was Shakespeare’s birthplace! We got to tour the school that he grew up going to, and shop around a little bit. Again, it was a very charming little town and we wish we had more time here, but there’s always next trip!
When we got back from the tour we were so exhausted that the thought of going out for dinner was just terrible. So we ordered food in… Indian, of course.
Side note: I’ve heard from a lot of people that Indian food is pretty much the only good food in London. I agree, hence getting Indian food for dinner 3 times.
Monday – Day Five
Monday was our last full day in London, but was my favorite day (aside from seeing the Harry Potter play). We started off at Winston Churchill’s War Rooms, which were seriously cool. We forgot to buy tickets in advance, so we arrived about 15 minutes before opening. The line was already pretty long, but we got in within about 30 minutes.
The War Rooms were especially amazing because I feel like Churchill has been nodded to a lot recently–in The Darkest Hour and The Crown. Luckily, I watched both before visiting, so this exhibit felt very relevant. I highly recommend a visit to the Churchill War Rooms!
After that, we walked to Sketch for afternoon tea. So, funny story here. Halfway through the trip, Idan and I decided that we were spending wayyyy too much money on food and decided we should cancel our Sketch reservation for a cheaper tea place. Well, I forgot to cancel it, and they charge your card if you don’t cancel within 24 hours. So off to Sketch we went! And I’m so glad for my silly mistake. It was worth every penny.
If you haven’t seen all over Instagram, Sketch is a stunning and creative restaurant in Mayfair. The afternoon tea experience was EXCELLENT. I mean it.
Our server was the sweetest person I think I’ve ever encountered, and she was so knowledgeable about teas and what to pair them with. I think I had about 4 pots of tea myself, and Idan had 5.
The food was delicious–I recommend arriving hungry–and you can order more of whatever you love. My favorite thing was a coronation chicken sandwich–I ended up getting seconds of that!
The scones were to. die. for.
They had a special “wedding” cake in honor of the Royal Wedding, and it was so delicious. I am currently drooling all over my keyboard just thinking about it.
I could go on and on forever and ever about how much I loved Sketch, but you should just go and see for yourself.
Our last stop of the day was the Harry Potter Studio Tour! This was the first thing we booked for the trip (after flights), because tickets sell out so quickly.
It was incredible. We got to see almost every prop and costume that was used during the movies, learn all about how the movies were created, and learn secrets regarding how they made all that magic.
Of course, I HAD to take this picture. Duh.
The whole tour probably took us about 2 hours to get through, although they recommend you budget for 3 hours. We had to take a train to get there from London (I put us on the wrong one. Idan was not pleased.), and then the Studio has a shuttle bus that picks up from the train station! That’s a few pounds to get on, just FYI.
When we got back, we grabbed a bite of pizza for dinner at Pizza Pilgrims, and went home to pack!
We went home on Tuesday after a lovely 5 days in London, and started thinking of what our next big trip should be.
Some things we wish we did this time/want to do the next time we’re in London:
- Shopping and tea at Harrod’s
- Sunday Roast at Hawksmore, Seven Dials
- Bob Bob Ricard for champagne
- Walk around Notting Hill
- Go to the world’s largest antique market at Portobello Road
- Go to the Borough Market
- Go to Kensington Palace and see the Diana exhibit
- Do the London Eye
- See Big Ben (it was under construction this time)
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