Confession: I recently discovered that adventure is my love language. All I really wanted for Christmas this year was another stamp in my passport. To pick up and venture out into the world with my husband and forge new paths and make awesome memories. Nothing makes me feel more alive than the thrill of exploring a new place. I was a little afraid to even entertain the idea of taking a trip (other than driving to Georgia to see family) because I didn’t want to be disappointed if it didn’t happen.
Fortunately, with my dad being an active airline employee with family flight privileges and my mom willing to babysit our furry toddler, we were able to make a last minute decision to visit London for a few days over Christmas break. We were unbelievably fortunate to have had great luck with our stand-by flights this time around, and were assigned seats on the very first non-stop flight we attempted out of Atlanta. We spent 3 full days in England, and though I worried a bit at how much we would miss out on in such a short trip, it ended up being absolutely perfect.
Because the trip was decided so late, hardly any planning went into it. We probably booked the last affordable Air BnB available in the city, which was a tiny 1 bedroom flat that hadn’t been cleaned since the last guests…But you get what you pay for! Thank goodness there were at least some clean sheets on hand. It was located in a great borough called Shoreditch with many wonderful eating/drinking/shopping options around with great access to all the must-see London sights.
Amazingly enough, if you’re okay with walking an upwards of 13 miles each day, you can basically see all of the city in 3 jam-packed days. I was so pleased with how much ground we covered, and everything about this city exceeded my expectations. We had incredible weather (50s and sunny during the day-which the locals assured me was unheard of) and the public transportation system could not have been easier to master. London was accessible and approachable and friendly and quaint and buzzing and essentially all good things about Europe bunched together. It was so magical at night, and I loved strolling down street after street lit up in twinkling Christmas lights like no American street has ever seen. Let me just tell you…Europe knows how to celebrate Christmas way better than we do.
We frolicked around Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland for hours on night, marveling at this Disneyland-scale festival complete with roller-coasters, a Bavarian Village, ice sculpture garden, and giant ice-skating rink. It was as if I had died and gone to heaven. Josh disagrees and thinks he died and went to another place, as the crowds and lights and sheer volume of holiday cheer was a bit overwhelming for him. He was such a good sport.
Prior to Winter Wonderland, we had been lost inside Harrods for hours. Again, totally overstimulating and not Josh’s favorite. These experiences probably would have been best experienced on different nights. Who knew everything in London was so over-the-top?? Either way, that day was one for the books in my opinion.
Hyde Park was beautiful during the day as well. So lush and vast and full of happy locals walking their pets and kids on scooters. I won’t mention the time we got kicked out of a playground for not having children with us, because that would just be embarrassing… (on an unrelated note, people with kids should spend some time at the Diana Memorial Playground if you’re in town)
And of course, we saw the biggies…The London Eye, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, The Globe Theater, Tate Modern Museum, Centennial Bridge, Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace, and many many others. We rode on the top of an iconic red double-decker bus, ate the best Indian food of our lives, drank English breakfast tea with milk, and minded the gap on the London Tube.
This trip seemed so much longer than 3 days with all we were able to see, but there was still so much yet to be discovered. I wish we could have seen a show in one of the many historic theaters or coughed up $50/person for high tea at Harrods or ridden the London Eye. Turns out London is very very expensive. The museums are free, but they make up for it in steep admission fees everywhere else you go. I was happy this time to walk by everything and get a taste for what I want to prioritize splurging on next go-around.
Thank you London for a jolly good time, and beautiful weather and ending 2015 on a good note. I know my days of spontaneous border crossings are limited as I look ahead to graduation and full-time employment, so I am extra extra grateful for opportunities like this. What an amazing adventure this year has been. Happy New Year!