As, I mentioned in EngLANGd: Part 1, the second half of our trip included time together in London, which was amazing! After Louis finished working the last day, we took the train back into Padington Station and took the tube to our hotel. In London, we stayed at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel, which I cannot recommend enough! We received a complimentary upgrade, the hotel and room were beautiful, and the location was so convenient.
Once we got settled in our room, we decided to head out for some dinner. While crossing Westminster Bridge we were accosted by some creepy swindlers insisting we take pictures with them. After politely declining several attempts, we obliged their requests. Once we did, they demanded we pay them. Um, thanks, but we didn’t really want bad Fiona and Charlie Chaplin impersonators in our pictures. We didn’t pay them obviously, but we saw them (along with many other) scammers every time we crossed the bridge bothering tourists and being generally sketchy. Just a word to the wise to avoid them if you ever cross Westminster Bridge. 🙂 Also, if you’re going to barge into my picture, at least smile. Geez. “Fiona” looks so annoyed.
London was seriously beautiful at night. The uplighting on Big Ben, The Palace of Westminster, and The London Eye, gave the entire city a very magical look.
We finally arrived to the underground and took the tube to Piccadilly Circus. The tube was so easy to use, and we got Oyster Cards to make the experience even simpler. The underground is totally the way to travel around London.
Piccadilly Circus was described to me as the Times Square of London. It had several restaurants, pubs, clubs, and shops along with some beautiful Christmas decor.
We settled on dinner at another pub and ordered, what else, fish and chips. After dinner, we were pretty tired from another day of travel, so we climbed into our comfy beds and rested up for a busy day ahead!
We awoke bright and early and ready to explore! First up was more pictures in front of Big Ben. Guys, I’m not even sorry to say we took probably close to 100 pictures in front of Big Ben. The fact that we had a perfect view of it every time we left our hotel was just too tempting.
We decided to get tickets to tour The Palace of Westminster, where Parliament resides.
We took more pictures of the beautiful surroundings until our tour time.
The inner grounds of the Palace of Westminster offered more great views of Big Ben, so we happily snapped some more shots before heading inside.
The oldest parts of the palace were built in 1097, so there was a long, rich history to explore. Inside there were countless statues, paintings, mosaics, and stained glass windows portraying several of the people and events that impacted and shaped England.
We put on our headphones to start the guided audio tour and enjoyed strolling through the giant and magnificent building.
I had to high five the statue below for being so great. I also seem to remember Louis making me pose extra long for this picture to ensure maximum embarrassment. Oh and the green sparkles around my eye in the left picture? Probably just more proof of wizards in London.
One of our favorite things we learned about on the tour was the Black Rod. He is a speaker for the Queen, and one of his main duties is summoning the House of Commons to meet with the House of Lords. Per tradition, when he comes to call on them (in ceremonial clothes no less), they slam the door in his face. Hah. Silly, English traditions. I am sure this is a very desirable and distinguished position, but the image of a man dressed in a costume purposefully having a door slammed in his face just cracked us up.
We were only able to take pictures for the first third of the tour, but we more than made up for it back outside with more Big Ben selfies. The picture on the left was actually used for the front of our Christmas card! (Along with the phrase, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”, which I thought was a great, discreet clock reference 😉 )
After a million selfies, the crowds thinned out, and we decided it was the perfect time for some solo Big Ben shots. I snapped this perfect picture of handsome Louis. Then it was my turn.
This unsuspecting man strolled past, so Louis was waiting for him to keep walking to take my coveted Big Ben picture. Lucky for us though, he decided to stop and stand just to my left FOREVER. I started laughing of course, we gave up, and continued on to more adventures.
We walked down Whitehall to The Household Calvary Museum. There were some beautiful horses and fancy guards with snazzy ponytail helmets. We strolled around for a bit before heading to St. James Park.
The park was gorgeous. It was beautifully landscaped and full of couples strolling hand-in-hand, locals walking their dogs, and families enjoying the day. We stopped for lunch at Inn the Park (clever, I agree), and enjoyed views of St. James Park Lake.
We continued our walk through the park until we reached Buckingham Palace. Unfortunately, we were unable to tour the palace due to the time of year. We simply had to admire it from the outside, which, I’ll admit, was a little underwhelming. After seeing so many other grand buildings around the city, the palace seemed a bit lacking. I’m sure my opinion would change completely if we got to tour the inside, so perhaps we can head back to do that someday.
I also had a quick conversation with the Queen and one of her guards.
We walked back through the park sharing some delicious ice cream and snapped a few more iconic pictures.
Another ride on the tube took us over to Covent Garden, which was amazing! It was full of shops and restaurants and TONS of people. I wish it had been less crowded, so we could explore more. With all of the crowds we decided to just grab what we could for dinner, which meant we ended up at Shake Shack. It was totally delicious. No regrets here.
From Covent Garden, we walked back to our hotel (another mile-long journey), putting us around walking 10 miles that day. By the time we made it home, we fell into bed! We still had more days to explore though! See you soon with EngLANGd: Part 3!