London came and went so quickly. I don't know it really even warrants a full blog post of its own. Also, things didn't quite work out as we'd planned. We'll see how this goes. At least you'll get some highlights.
We arrived around 1:00 p.m. We didn't do our research because we'd I'd been to London a few times before, and we'd banked on doing a hop-on-hop-off bus tour to get an overview. Little did we know, they only run until 5:00 p.m.. Once we ate and checked into the hotel, there wasn't even time to do the tour if we'd stayed on the bus for an entire round so we decided just to pick out some highlights and run with it.
We stayed at the Crowne Plaza-The City, which was a nice room, nice size. The downside: Internet was a separate charge and there was literally only ONE available power outlet in the room, including the bathroom. No outlet in the bathroom? I found that strange.
For lunch, we walked across the street to The Black Friar, a historic English pub. The building is wedge-shaped and has been around since the 12th century. It was used as a monastery, a Parliament Chamber and changed hands a couple more times, before becoming the haunted pub, as it stands today. Supposedly the doors will open and close on their own, and glasses will move from one place to another as a way for their friendly ghost to make its presence known. If you're looking for traditional British pub food, this is a good spot.
Our first tourist destination was Big Ben. We hopped on the Tube and got off at an extraordinarily busy section of town, where people are all trying to get a look at the famous Houses of Parliament and the clock tower.
If you're at Big Ben, and turn about 180 degrees and look, you'll see the London Eye. Another tourist cluster. If you want to go up in the Eye, I highly recommend getting tickets in advance, to skip the line.
After a quick look at the London Eye, we went over to the Tower Bridge. This was both of our favorite site. The Tower Bridge is often mistaken as the London Bridge because it is more visually iconic than the London Bridge.
From there, we walked over to Covent Garden, just as the vendors were packing up for the evening. Then a few blocks away to Trafalgar Square. By this time, it was dark, and the fountains were lit up. We didn't have time, but the National Gallery is here as well. Across the street is a rooftop bar across the street at the Trafalgar Hotel, that is open during the warmer months, called Vista Bar.
The next morning, we got up and walked about seven minutes from the hotel, over to St. Paul's Cathedral before breakfast. It's definitely worth a look!
This next part is important: We used the last of our British pounds for breakfast, assuming we could use a credit card for our cab to the train station. Wrong, we were! Most of the taxis only accept cash and when we did finally find one that said they accepted credit, our cards were declined once we got to the station, causing us to miss our train to Paris. Luckily I asked to pay in Euros, and the driver accepted it at a not-so-good exchange rate. We were able to make the next train, which was a half hour later. Another thing to remember... If you're taking the Chunnel, you have to go through security at the station, so be there MORE THAN a half hour early, to be safe. We arrived a half hour early, on the dot. This is how we cut it so close.
Here are some additional worthwhile highlights we didn't have time for:
Hyde Park (This is where the famous Speakers' Corner is.)
If you're into shopping, Oxford Street is London 's most famous shopping destination.