London was the first stop of the Tam and Maggie European venture before my mom dropped me off in Sevilla to study abroad for the summer. It’s the first European city my mom and I have set foot on and has been on both of our wanderlust lists for a while. It marked Europe as the third continent I’ve ever been to besides North America and Asia, and it was definitely something special. We landed in London Heathrow at 6:35 am, which wasn’t ideal, but we went through customs, got our luggage from baggage claim, bought an international sim card at the airport, and finally took an hour long taxi to our hotel.
Our hotel, Leman Locke, had adorable apartment style rooms that included a small kitchenette, dining table, sitting area with a TV, and the regular bed and bath that hotel rooms would have.
We first set out to eat at a cute greenhouse-like brunch place called Byward Kitchen & Bar. It was part of the Tower of London buildings so we naturally explored the Tower after a classic English Breakfast and some fresh orange juice.
That’s one thing about Europe that my mother loves. There was fresh orange juice being sold everywhere we go.
We then set out to see the Elizabeth Tower and hear the famous Big Ben ring.
There was a lot of people around this tourist-filled area expectedly and the notorious red telephone booths had broken glass, an inoperable phone, and too much germs. So if you plan on going anytime soon, bring some hand sanitizer for sure. The next stop was the London eye (seen in the featured image of this article) and seeing that beautiful view of river. We soon left to explore Chinatown as per my mom’s request and that consumed the rest of our evening.
After Big Ben and the London Eye, came Piccadilly Circus. Seeing its architecture was also very eye-opening, and who could say no to all the shopping it has to offer? We went first to Burberry, because my entire family, especially my brother, are big fans and London is its birthplace.
We woke up the next day to afternoon tea at St. Ermin’s for £29 per person. They included various savory and sweet selections, and even brought out a special dessert to celebrate mom’s birthday! I finished my entire pot of Jasmine green tea and my mother did the same with her floral tea. What Struck me the most was the timers they brought out to specify when each pot of tea would be perfect to taste. Since mine was a green tea whereas my mother’s was a black tea, my timer ran out quicker than hers did. Since tea was very close to the Buckingham Palace, we headed over to take a peak at the royal lifestyle. Unfortunately, the Queen’s Gallery was not open to the public that day so we only got to see the Royal Mews. For £10 a ticket, there was not a lot to see; therefore, I would recommend checking for the Queen’s Gallery dates before heading over to the palace. The garden area around the palace was more interesting than the royal mews so we spent quite a lot of time there afterwards.
We then missed our 4:30 reservation at Duck and Waffle because of the constant crazy traffic in London, but we still got a chance to see the bird’s eye view of “the city that looks better in the rain.” However, I’ve heard great things about their food so make sure you arrive on time for your reservations in the future because they only hold tables for 15 minutes and once it’s gone, there’s no going back.
The British Museum was our last touristy stop of the day and it’s lobby itself was already worth the trip.
Before we left for London, the forecasts had rain shown for the entire time we were going to be there. I suppose we got lucky and it turned out to be perfect weather for most of our stay with short showers here and there that taught us to always bring umbrellas even for sunny forecasts.
Besides the specific places we had on our to-do list, my mom and I also roamed a lot around the city. One of our favorite things to do while on vacation is to just randomly walk around and see what we find. In London, this paid off because we found numerous cute houses on our scenic strolls.
I chose London as our first stop because it was one of three places my mom specifically wanted to see and there was non-stop flights from RDU. But, it was a great start to our tour of Europe, and I’m so glad I finally brought my mom to one of the cities she’s always wanted to see.
We were only there from May 11th to the 13th so there are plenty I have yet to see. London, I’ll definitely be back.
See below for more pictures if you need some convincing to visit London: