Great Britain has been #1 on my list of dream travel destinations since I was about ten years old. Way back then, a schoolmate brought back pictures of Stonehenge that his family took on their trip to England and at that moment a lifelong obsession was born. Though my ideal trip involved a month-long tour through all of England, I conceded to just four short days in London for the first leg of the trip and then another three days in Edinburgh. I am going to do a post for each day, filled with some of the hundreds of photos we took, detailing where we went, what we did and other exciting things like that!
So here we go, day one.
We arrived at London Heathrow at about 6:45 am after a 7 hour and 25 minute flight that felt like double that. We actually were really blessed with the travel out here, no issues with security, no delays or problems on the plane, no motion sickness (more on that soon!), arrived right on time in sunny London, made it through customs relatively easily and were even able to check in to our hotel when we got there. However, it was exhausting. I don’t even know how long we were awake for, definitely more than 24 hours and that was the hardest part. We were warned NOT to sleep once we got to the hotel, as that would only make jet lag worse but there was no way we were going to survive without a little cat nap. Still not sure if that was the right decision, as we are on day six of the trip and I am just now starting to get over jet lag!
We stayed at a boutique hotel in South Kensington called the Ashburn Hotel, which put us within a 10-15 minute walk – depending on our pace – from Kensington Palace. Which brings us to our first big tourist attraction and one that you should not miss!
We opted not to take the tour of the palace, but now that we’ve left London I’m wishing we would have. *tear* Still, the gardens were beautiful and just walking the streets nearby was a treat for the eyes. Also, as we were leaving, we saw a helicopter land just behind the brick wall where H&M’s cottage is! We would have loved to see who stepped out!
Before and after spending some time at Kensington Palace, we strolled up and down Kensington High street and of course, got a picture with one of these classic red phone booths!
After wandering all over beautiful Kensington, we decided to try to figure out the Tube in preparation for our trip out of the city the following day.
One of my biggest concerns before coming to London was using public transportation. At home, it doesn’t make sense to use it so I am completely unfamiliar with public trans. Well as it turns out, London’s public transportation is really easy to learn and also the cheapest way to get around the city quickly. We got our Oyster cards – which work for the subway, local above ground lines and busses in London – and hopped on the next train to Notting Hill to both familiarize ourselves with the the tube and to do some more exploring!
We arrived in Notting Hill in about five minutes or less and began to wander. We started down Portobello road but it reminded me a lot of Haight/Ashbury in San Francisco and I lost interest, so we turned around. I would not recommend taking a trip to Notting Hill just for Portobello road. There are so many better shopping areas (post on that coming soon!) and so many prettier areas to stroll through.
After Notting Hill, we strolled back to our hotel via Kensington Palace Gardens. If I could live anywhere in London, that street might just be the place! On one side of the wide, tree-lined sidewalks and streets there are embassies in the most beautiful mansions (I’ll take one of those please!) and Kensington Palace on the other side. The street is gated but the gates were open and we had no problem walking past.
There are so many restaurants and shops to explore, not to mention all of the streets lined with picturesque architecture in Kensington and Notting Hill. It’s well worth the trip if you’re staying in another part of the city and if you are looking for a relatively quiet part of the city to stay in, Kensington is it. Definitely don’t miss Kensington Palace, it’s going on the list for our next trip!