EuroTrip 2013 | London

Buckingham Palace - changing of the guards

Buckingham Palace – changing of the guards

Wow. Our second day in London was an action-packed and exhausting day exploring the city and nearby sights and attractions. We started off in the morning with a quick stroll through Hyde Park to get to our meeting point for a free city walking tour. The park itself was beautiful and peaceful, with plenty of people walking their dogs and a nice lake in the middle. We enjoyed the scenery next to the lake before arriving a bit early at our meeting point at Wellington Arch.

Since we had about half an hour to kill, we decided to buy tickets to get to the top of the arch, which turned out to be a nice mini-lookout of the busy city streets. We watched the cars, buses, and motorcycles from morning traffic whiz by and even caught a glimpse of a bunch of soldiers riding in a horse caravan.

Soon, we were back at the meeting point and met with our tour guide Andy, who worked with Sandeman’s. We never had a free walking tour before, but I was thoroughly impressed by the stuff we saw and the guide’s overall knowledge, stories, and humor. Loved how he made history fun and interesting (as it should be), plus we got to see a lot of city relics such as Buckingham Palace (including the changing of the guards), Prince Charles’ home, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and Parliament.

Our tour guide Andy talking about Big Ben

Our tour guide Andy talking about Big Ben

My favorite part was definitely when he told the story of Guy Fawkes and the plot to blow up Parliament. When he asked for a volunteer to reenact the interrogation Fawkes had to undergo after being caught, James volunteered me and I proceeded to be imaginarily tortured as he explained the various ways Brits back then got their enemies to talk (fingernails, the rack, and being hung, drawn, and quartered).

We stopped for lunch at a local pub called The Old Monk, where we tried legit British sausage and mash (sausages with mashed potatoes and gravy) and English beer (Doom Bar). Loved the atmosphere and enjoyed a great meal.

After lunch, we decided to buy tickets to enter Westminster Abbey, since we were really impressed with its beauty when we saw it during the walking tour. The included audio tour talked about the back stories of a bunch of royalty and famous poets/musicians/artists buried in the abbey. The place was huge, with beautiful and ornate carvings and a very serene and holy presence.

Inside of Westminster

Inside of Westminster

By now, we had walked probably 7ish miles, but James recommended that we check out Harrod’s, a famous (and high-end) shopping center in London. We looked longingly at the ice cream that cost 15 GBP and decided to head out after window-shopping and sitting in a home theater with a gigantic 25,000 GBP Sony LED TV.

Dinner was at Spaghetti House, a legit Italian restaurant with some decent two-course dinner deals. Feeling nice and full from a great meal, we decided on a last hurrah before trekking back to our hostel – we would rent city bikes (there are a bunch of bike stations around the city) and ride it through the park back to the area where our hostel was located. Except we took a huge detour through the park because a lot of paths didn’t allow bikes. Managed to get lost for a bit (it was nearing 10 PM now – we’d been up for nearly 12 hours and had walked around 10 miles). In our delirious state, we finally made it back to the hostel and prepped for our early 6 AM flight the next day.

Although we were absolutely exhausted, we had to wake up at 2 AM (ended up getting a couple hours’ sleep) to catch the bus to get to the airport. The flight itself was pretty smooth, but our train in Paris was delayed by an hour, and we managed to make it to the hostel in Paris an hour later than our original check-in time.

Today will be a chill day, a time for us to plan out our next four days in Paris and get some much-needed and well-deserved rest. Planning to explore the city tomorrow – check back for my updates on the City of Light!

Group shot in front of Westminster Abbey

Group shot in front of Westminster Abbey

Steps taken: 36,462 | Miles walked: 9.31

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