Put This on Your List: A Trip to London

I’m sure everyone knows by now that I just made a trip toLondon. I’m a little disappointed and could kick myself in the ass for not blogging more while I was over there. But while there were definitely some great opportunities, I didn’t want to miss the chance to take it all in because I was too worried about writing blog posts (sometimes it’s hard to find the balance). And it also gives me an awesome opportunity to post right now. So, here’s a little recap of my trip with some pictures and tips. I’m also going to consider it something to put on your list because if anyone has the chance to go to London you should do it.

This was a bit of a unique trip – while it was for fun it was also for work. Mr. T had to do some research and the British Library and I worked some while I was there. We thought it was genius to stay at different places since we were traveling on the weekends and thought that would give us some different sites of the city.

Tips: While it’s cool to stay in various parts of the city, if you’re planning on traveling outside London on the weekends definitely pick a “home base” so you don’t have to cart your luggage everywhere.  Also be prepared to drink a lot of instant coffee and have bacon that’s secretly ham. And, finally, be leery while crossing the street. I never even thought about this, but since they drive on the opposite side everything you've been told since Kindergarten is different in London (thankfully they provide you with some instructions on the road)..

We landed Wednesday morning which was a little difficult since we only slept an hour or so on the plane and it felt like way early morning for us. Our first couple of days was spent in what seemed to be an adorable little bed and breakfast near Tufnell Park, but once we were shown to our room it proved to be a little different. The room had the smallest bathroom ever. I literally could barely get to the toilet and there was no door on the bathroom (thankfully we aren’t shy). The bed was also tiny. I am not sure what size it was but it felt like something between a twin and a full – do they even make a bed that size?

The breakfast was good, minus the gal who didn’t speak English very well and just kept telling Mr. T “no”when he asked her to repeat herself. Tufnell Park was a decent area, but there isn’t a lot there and most places seemed to close after 7pm (something I learned is fairly common in London).

Tips: When the guy at customs has no idea there’s a hotel located anywhere near where you say you’re staying, change your reservation immediately. Also, plan the smallest amount of walking possible from the tube stop to your hotel room. The last thing you’ll want to do is walk half a mile when you’ve had no sleep. And then you’ll end up yelling at your fiancé for no reason (and that’s something you don’t want to do either).

We left Tufnell Park and headed up north to Leeds. Mr. T went to the University of Leeds and still had some friends there. It was awesome seeing that piece of his past and his friends were amazing too. One of the awesome parts is how cheap it was to stay in Leeds. We had a fancy schmancy hotel for about $150 for the entire weekend.

Tips: Spend the extra bucks on the train rather than Mega Bus. We took the latter – it was over packed, way too hot, and not worth the savings at all.

After Leeds we went back to London to a different area of the city – Clapham. This was definitely a great neighborhood – lots of bars, restaurants, and shops. However, when we first arrived it was one of the most stressful parts of the trip. We had booked a little guest house for the week. It was kind of like a hostel, but we had our own private room with a bathroom. Per the email we received when booking, check-in was from 3:00-9:00. We arrived close to 4:00 to find a sign stating reception was closed and giving us a number to call. My phone wouldn’t dial UK numbers and the phone Mr. T had specifically for UK calls wasn’t working. In true Jess fashion, I picture us stranded on the steps for the night and started to freak. We realized the reception was at another guest house that was just down the road. We walked down there and the guy was able to check us in and all was good.

It ended up being a great week. The guest house was nice even though our room had no window. The bathroom had a skylight and a door, but we couldn’t open it. Seriously, who designs a room that way? We had dinner at some cute little pubs in Clapham. I was able to play tourist for a couple of days where I was able to wander the neighborhood a little. I spent the afternoon in a coffee shop and in the park. I even bought myself a few presents at one of the cute little stores. I also wandered London and saw Buckingham Palace and the area around there.

Tips: Make sure you have a phone that can call a UK number. Don’t freak out until you’ve fully read a sign (pretty sure that’s a life tip). Save some money by buying breakfast and lunch at the local grocery store – Mr. T and I bought bread, cheese, and fruit for only around £10 a day. I felt like a queen.

Next we went to Greenwich and it was one of my most favorite parts of the trip. We had originally planned to go to Glasgow to see one of Mr. T’s friends, but that trip fell through so we decided to splurge and stay in a somewhat nicer hotel for the weekend. Greenwich was beyond awesome. Everything was within walking distance so we didn’t have to even bother with the tube. Our hotel was in an old building complete with a view of an old cemetery. The only thing that sucked was the fact that we couldn’t really open the window. Seriously London, I don’t get your thing with windows. I am fine with no AC, but just let me open a window.

Tips: Checkout the Greenwich Market for amazing stuff. Also go look at the Prime Meridian and the Cutty Sark.

After that we stayed in Walthamstow which I’ve heard is kind of an up and coming neighborhood. We stayed in another guest house and this place was awesome. We had kitchen access and free laundry. And the Dating Channel on the television provided hours of entertainment. And we could even open the window. My only issue was the tiny shower – I couldn’t close the door because I was afraid I would get stuck or die. But the other stuff more than made up for it. There’s also some awesome pubs and restaurants nearby. One of which had some really amazing deals on food and drinks. Also, one of our NYC friends was staying in the same ‘hood so we were able to meet up with her for dinner one night.

I was also able to play tourist this week too. I went to Covent Garden which is another truly amazing place. There are tons of shops and also a little market. I had the best time just wandering around. I had to avoid the little antique market because I would have bought everything, but I did get a cute little bride and groom sign as well as some Mr. and Mrs. Mugs. I also spent a day with a friend – we saw the changing of the guard, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Millennium Bridge, and wandered all over near the Bank of England. We spent our last day in London at the Tower of London which was pretty cool. It’s actually Mr. T’s favorite thing so I had been told I had to wait for him in order to see it. We had lunch at this great spot with a perfect view of everything. The amount of history that’s there is amazing and the crown jewels were mighty pretty.

Tips: Check out Easy Room Let (it’s where we stayed). Don’t rely on ordering take out – you’ll end up at Subway. And no, that’s not totally bad, but you can get that at home and I swear the mayo is different there. Definitely have lunch outside near the tower, but be careful of birds – they’ll try to poop on you and will probably succeed.

We ended the trip staying with friends in Bracknell and that was truly amazing. Not only was it awesome for Mr. T to catch up with his friends (and for me to spend some more time with them), but they truly went out of their way to give us a great stay. We had yummy breakfast, a proper roast for Sunday dinner, Sing Star, and afternoon tea. There was an also unlimited amount of alcohol and coffee. They also took us around to see some nearby sites. We went to Windsor, but it was so rainy that we didn’t get a chance to do much. They also took us to some nearby pubs. The drive through the English countryside was truly an amazing experience.

Tips: Always book a flight on the biggest plane. It might not seem like it, but it feels more way more comfy.

All in all, my trip was a truly amazing experience. I am really glad that Mr. T wanted me to come with him and so glad I did. The best part is, we survived a major trip and are still in love and want to marry each other.  We are planning another trip back there in a few years (we have that whole wedding thing first) and I am ecstatic to go back a second time.