Not having been to England before, I wanted to TRY to stop in London before we left. As excited as I was to visit Manchester and Liverpool (see my other posts), I had always dreamed of seeing the city where Mary Poppins took care of the Banks children. And of course, just to be in the same place as Diagon Alley is one of those things at the top of my bucket list. :)
Ministry of Magic???
Thankfully all those muggles I was traveling with were willing to do the same and the guys braved an English snowstorm to drive the five-plus hours from Manchester to London on the last leg of our trip. When I say snowstorm, I mean the drive was crazy due to the snow and blizzard-like conditions. I grew up in Wyoming and had only had to drive through something like this once or twice in my life.
Then there was the driving on the opposite side of the road. That was a brand new experience for me. My husband had lived in England for a bit of time while stationed there with the AF, so he was okay with the drive. On top of that, he had grown up in Vermont. Regardless of all this, it still made for an interesting drive.
We two days. Since I had allotted one of those days for Stonehenge (see next week’s post), we really only had the one day.
So what do you do when you only have the ONE day in England? Well, I did my normal and found a hop-on-hop-off bus tour.
With an early morning flight, we had booked our hotel close to Heathrow airport. Which meant we were taking the rental vehicles back early that morning, then taking a train into London. That really did eat up a lot of time.
As we were walking to find an area where we could get the bus tickets, we lucked out and saw one of the daily parades of the changing of the horse guards. https://www.tourbytransit.com/london/things-to-do/horse_guards#page_3
This was super cool. As we kept walking, we happened upon this area that just called out for tons of pictures. We had no clue at the time it was the back area of the Royal Horse Guards. We just knew it was beautiful.
Then on the other side, we had the typical tourist experience of getting a picture of the Queen’s guards via horseback:
And while standing guard:
This was incredible. Even when some of the other tourists got way too close to the horse and the guard had to yell. There was a couple there trying to stick their little kids next to the horse’s legs and the guard finally had to intervene. Some people just really don’t think.
As we were walking, we could see the London Eye. We decided to give this a try before getting on the bus. But once we arrived, they said it was over an hour wait and the ride was 90 minutes. This was not on my bucket list (it was for one of our co-workers). So we decided to skip this for that day and they would come back the next day while we were at Stonehenge. Note: That didn’t work out for either of us. The wind was CRAZY! So they had shut down the carousal AND Stonehenge. So we both ended up not getting to do this one thing we wanted to do. :(
Once we finally found our bus, we saw some incredible sites.
I was super excited to see this. Of course, they were in the middle of doing some renovations (hence the scaffolding).
I did find a replica in one of the stores we stopped in. :)
We also saw the London Bridge. This really was pretty. I loved how the blues popped in all of our pictures and videos.
As lovely as it is in the photos, you really have to see this in person. It was incredible!
I wanted to stop and eat at a local pub while we were there. When we were maybe 1/3 of the way around with the bus, we saw this fun looking place.
The Bag of Nails
Without hesitation, we all jumped off the bus.
Definitely not sorry that we did. Yummo!
I had another round of fish and chips that to this day, makes my mouth water.
One of our co-workers was not hungry, so she stopped in at this super awesome tea shop while we ate. She ended up buying three full tea sets (for her, her mom, and a friend). Because it took time to wrap them so they could travel through the airport, we all ended up in that tea shop. This is where I discovered my love of English tea. See my post on my new addiction that has carried over since I returned home here:
By this time, it was getting late. One day in London really is not a lot of time. We only made it 1/3 of the way on the bus tour. Big bummer.
Since we were super close to Buckingham Palace, we jumped back on the bus for a few more stops and hopped off to get our pictures. Now it is completely dark.
But how cool is this spooky picture of the guards walking in front of the castle?
We had to do a bit more walking before we finally got back to the train. By this time, we were all very tired and everyone had come out for some holiday touring. So the train was packed.
But it was all worth it! I finally got to see a bit of London. Although it wasn't enough, it wet my appetite for another trip. This time, I will make sure to schedule more time for this beautiful and historic city.
When we arrived back at the hotel, I was pumped. Because I knew where I was going the next day…
Come back next week to see exactly how that trip turned out. See below for a little teaser…
Hint: There was more snow overnight.
Thanks for stopping by and seeing my super quick day in London. I hope you come back to read about more of my travels.