Episode 18: 24 hours in London, part 1

I’ve been to London a handful of times in the last couple of years.  London is the hub that I fly into for my work trips but I never get more than a solid 24 hours in the city since I have to travel out into smaller towns around the UK for work. 24 hours doesn’t seem like a lot to do in London but since I’ve been there so many times, I just plan out the big things I want to hit for that time.

This time, I purposely planned a weekend day to hang out in the city and to see some people that I adore.

I decided for this trip to London I had to see:

  • The London Eye
  • Platform 9 3/4
  • Eat Indian food
  • Go to St. Paul’s Cathedral

I arrived bright and early from Budapest and hit the ground running.  I took the Heathrow Express into the city which can be a bit of a pricey ride into London, but it’s so much faster than taking the underground and stopping all the way into London.  I met up with my friend Noelle at Paddington and we took the tube and overground to east London where my friend Kellen lived.  Fun fact, there’s an overground in London.  I never knew that so it really threw me off when I had to figure out how to get to east London. Be prepared that it is not connected to the underground but you can catch it at the same station as some of the underground stations like Liverpool and your Oyster card works there.

After a home cooked breakfast (which I hadn’t had in a week) and some coffee we started on our adventure.  The first stop was St. Paul’s Cathedral.  You must pay to get into this Cathedral and it’s kind of pricey but it’s totally worth it.  We may or may not have paid for a family ticket (no one believed I was 17 and adopted but it’s cool).  Also, no photos are allowed in the Cathedral which I didn’t realize until after I had taken a few photos just steps away from the “no photography” sign.  But it’s cool.

While in the Cathedral, you can go up the stairs to the whispering gallery.  It’s the first level of the dome that overlooks the entire cathedral.  You sit along the wall and when you whisper into the wall you can hear it around the entire dome.  It’s pretty cool but also strangely terrifying at the same time.  Since you aren’t able to see who is talking and everyone is whispering, I felt like I was in a horror movie and I was hearing the voices in my head.  It’s a strange experience but definitely entertaining.

When we were done freaking each other out with the ridiculous things we were saying, we walked up the stairs to the top of the dome.  Be prepared that it’s a ridiculous amount of steps, the stairwells are tiny (as to be expected) and don’t ever look down. We got to the top of the dome and from there got a 360 view of London.

I’ve always known London was huge, beautiful and highly populated but I’ve never personally experienced seeing it from above until this moment.  It’s a great experience being able to look out over the entire city and see just how magnificent it is.

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When we were finally over it, we climbed back down and made our way to the next location – the London Eye.

On the way we crossed London Bridge, made a coffee stop and checked out the Tate.  Fun fact: the Tate is free and has Salvador Dali paintings.  As soon as I found out that it had Salvador Dali paintings, I made a mad dash for that exhibit.  Totally worth it.

We got to the London Eye and I’ve always wanted to ride it but once I found out how much it was and saw the line, I decided against it.  My heart wasn’t necessarily set on it.  As long as I got to be in its presence I was okay.

From there it was time to start moving onto our next location which was the Borough Market.  I’ve been there before and I’ve loved it.  It is a giant food market that is always full of people on the weekends.  We walked through about half of it scouting out the food options and settled on a goat sausage dish. It was goat sausage on a salad made up of something similar to quinoa with a homemade tzatziki sauce and cilantro jalapeno dip. I won’t say that this was the best dish because that would be to bold of a statement but it was so good.  We stood by the church at the end of the market and ate until we felt like exploding. The sausage was so flavorful and the adding in the cilantro jalapeno dip was the perfect touch.  The tzatziki sauce was a nice add on to calm down the spicy flavor of the dip. One thing to remember is that there’s not a lot of places to sit down at Borough Market so be prepared to eat while walking/standing.

From there we continued walking around the city and eventually ended up at Kings’ Cross Station.  I love Harry Potter and this was definitely something I needed to see.  We walked into the station and found the shopping cart stuck in the wall.  Note: this is not actually located at Platform 9 and 3/4s… There was a line to take pictures with the shopping cart so we opted to not stand there.  I awkwardly took photos from a distance and moved on with our life. From there we walked to a grocery store, bought some snacks and sat in a square overlooking a water display outside of the station enjoying our food.

With all the walking that we had done and all the sightseeing, this may have been one of my favorite parts of the day.  It was so peaceful sitting in the square and unwinding after an eventful day.  i love seeing London but getting to sit somewhere and enjoy like I lived there with people that I love just really made the experience for me.  Especially since I hadn’t seen my friends in awhile and I wanted to hear all about their new life in a city away from Seattle. Listening to their stories allows me the ability to live vicariously through their lives and their experiences.

After we sat there for a few hours we decided it was time for dinner.  That was a whole different world of happiness. Until next time….

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