As I write this I am on the plane headed home to NYC from London listening to Brett Young, Sleep Without You, and thinking how amazing this trip was. I don’t regret one moment, one penny, one pence, anything. In all fairness, my trip to England was longer than 72 hours, but I only had that amount of time with my mister before I was on my own and he was committed to work. See, I hopped on his business trip. He has been many times, I however, had never been, and the time was just right for me to tag long. I am not even sure if I can come close to fitting my amazing time in one post and I am sure I will leave something out, but I will try to come close.
We took an overnight flight from JFK to Heathrow; yes, we slept as much as possible and in all honesty, over-the-counter sleep aids help this. We arrived in London late from a delayed flight at about 9:30 a.m. local time, 4:30 a.m. to our bodies. We took a long taxi ride to Central London, dropped our bags and were off for the day. We rented an amazing garden flat in Shoreditch and awaited the time it was ready for us, what better way to pass the time than to explore. We started out day with a filter coffee from a shop across the way before we set out.
- Parliament / Big Ben – this just a must see in London and it’s beautiful.
- Westminster Abbey – just impressive.
- Nap!!!! A limited nap to not keep ourselves up all night but to refresh some.
- London Tower – this medieval castle is fantastic in a most simple way.
- Tower Bridge – not even sure if any words I have can do this justice – in broad daylight it is so pretty with its towers and blue, then nightfall and the lights transform this simple structure into perfection.
- London Riviera where we happened upon a summer festival with “massaoke” – so much fun, karaoke for the masses. Sang and danced with total strangers, everyone just free and having a wonderful time. We sang along to rock, pop, disco and Adele, of course Adele. I am not sure anyone in the crowd needed assistance with the words.
- London Bridge – a simple place, but a bit heartbreaking when we walked across as there was a makeshift memorial to the lives that were lost in the recent attack.
- Borough Market – this is where we ended our night – pints outside of pubs and just talking to any one that placed their pint on the table by us, followed by impromptu street shows by those with a few pints in them – street dance off and umbrella performance – let your mind go wild with those.
- Trafalgar Square – it was very active as it happened to be Canada Day.
- Explored Green Park and the grounds all around Buckingham Palace as well as the war memorials.
- Ventured out to Camden Market – I was not prepared for what this had in store- WOW! The food, drink, vendors and atmosphere was just amazing making me want to go back again and again. If you find yourself in London, in my book, this is an absolute must visit. Go hungry, thirsty and ready for fantastic atmosphere!
- We took a small break in the day to freshen up from the walking around in the warm weather and made our way out to a concert at Southbank Center.
- As it seems to be normal in London in summer, we happened upon another street fair where we snacked and has drinks.
- Attended an Opera with impressive orchestra and choir performances. It was just beautiful, and before leaving we were treated to other performances in the foyer with interpretive dance.
- We ended the evening just walking along the River Thames enjoying the wonderful weather and atmosphere.
- Late dinner (Dishoom), topped off another amazing day.
- The time change was catching up, so the mister stayed resting while I headed out to the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace – I am so happy I went. It’s a super tourist thing to do but well worth it. (Tip – check times and dates prior to going at Royal Collection).
- We had Sunday Roast with a pint – yum, yum, yum – we shared, though, as it is a lot of food.
- Headed back to pick up the mister and we explored neighborhoods – the Gherkin, lunch in Nando’s (a must), drinks on Sushi Samba (my prize for Germany beating Mexico in the Confederation Cup semi-final).
- Topped off the evening with pints at a pub watching Germany beat Chile in the Confederations Cup final, and off to bed early for him to go to work and for me to be off exploring.
So this recapped our 72 hours together in London, once the mister went to work Monday morning, I set off on my own. At times, you need to just be alone, figure things out and get away from all of the clutter that is life. This morning, I set out to visit Stonehenge, thinking this was a site I would see, but then the day became so much more than that. I headed from Central London via train to Salisbury, out in the Countryside to Amesbury. The trip took me from the tube to a train to a bus to a hike, but none of that mattered. I opted not to take the transportation to the actual site of Stonehenge, and rather take the scenic hike offered when I inquired of the gentleman in the booth. I will not fully describe Stonehenge and the site as that is really something you need to see for yourself. I will say for me, the journey there and back was what mattered the most. I took the trails and mounds, and went through fences and cow pastures. I took my time, and took it all in. My lasting memory is not of the stones themselves, but rather the quiet and how in that moment the sound of the wheat grass blowing in the wind was the most soothing sound, and I became one with myself. I forgot about everything, closed my eyes, felt the wind and just listened. I truly believe I needed this moment of self, and I still feel it on my skin and hear the wildflowers and wheat grass. After heading back to London, I had dinner with the mister and enjoyed the after work atmosphere in London, knowing I had one the most precious experiences just hours prior. Outside of this moment, I also explored the towns some. Did you know the Magna Carta is in Salisbury and that the town is haunted? So much history.
My last day in London was reserved for shopping and more eating (tea at Bea’s of Bloomsbury). I am not even sure I can recap all of the places I ate, but I thank locals and former locals for the great recommendations, they did not disappoint. I relaxed in the morning waiting for the big tube commute to subside and headed out on my day. I explored many neighborhoods, went shopping and had afternoon tea. I walked miles and, of course, made my way to Harrod’s, a must for me as I have fond memories of my father bringing me a gift from there when I was a young child. Full circle you see. Now that I had way too much to pack and bring back, I headed back to drop off my wares before dinner at Poppie’s Fish & Chips, then Hummingbird Bakery for dessert. Unfortunately, this day ended with me having to pack and get ready to say goodbye to the United Kingdom, and I was certainly not ready.
Even though my trip was kind of last minute, I made a rough list of what I wanted to and did it all, but not letting my list and schedule take away from the moments that pop up and make the best memories. I let the trip take shape. I loved the U.K., embraced London (although not very different than our life in NYC); it has the city feel with the European freedom and feel to life, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Plan a trip and enjoy!
Author: Julie Torres
Author Bio: I am a mom with a full time hospitality career who loves both aspects of her life. Raising daughters has been tough but seeing the young ladies they have become makes it all worth while. I started my career in Orlando and have also worked in New York and Chicago, currently settled in New York City. Having my daughters grow up in Urban environments presented its challenges of course but also presented some of the greatest opportunities. Exposure all walks of life they are well-rounded cultural individuals. I have more years than I want to mention of experience in hotel and resort operations. I have also been fortunate enough to travel to many destinations, this is one of my favorite things. I also try my best to live a healthy lifestyle of eating right and exercise (although I admit the occasional cheat).
Link to social media or website: https://thejourneyofjulie.com/