We spent a blessed time traveling to stay with family and friends Summer 2019! The last leg of our trip was spent in London. Though I had a quick connecting flight in London once before, we had never explored the area! The planner that I am, we had our trip lined up for the duration, including our several days planned in London.
Things we planned ahead of time:
- We purchased the London Pass & Oyster Cards ahead of time
- We used AirBnB to rent a flat in the Kings Cross area
Things we wished we had not planned ahead of time:
- Purchase the London Pass
- Use the AirBnB to rent a flat in the Kings Cross area. 🙂 Though our price was extremely cheap, it might have been cheaper in the long run to get a hotel in London near the Tube.
- The Oyster Card was GREAT, but unless you are in London all week, please don’t purchase the London Pass. We LOST on this one. Hoping to see many different places, we simply didn’t get enough time to jet around and see all we wanted to see, and that was basically due to how long it takes to get around the city. SAVE your money.
Seriously, though. London was 100% nightmare and 100% fun (our 2nd day). We didn’t know how to navigate the city at all and made some newby errors that we hope you don’t have to repeat!
What we did right on Day 1:
- Do visit Harrods. Don’t eat there 😉 Customer service was atrocious.
- Yes, Use Uber when necessary! Make doubly sure they drop you off EXACTLY where you requested
- Yes, Go to Covent Gardens! Check out Neal’s Yard and the antique market. It’s worth the walk! Fabulous!
- Yes on St. Paul’s Cathedral & Trafalgar Square! (Remember, you don’t have to pay for Cathedral visit if you go to one of the services. And the services are wonderful!)
- Yes to Buckingham Palace (just to see it!) Better yet, plan a visit during the once a year that they allow a tour!
- Walk over Tower Bridge to the Tower of London (awesome!)
- No, No, No. Do NOT use the Hop On Hop Off bus, especially GOLDEN TOURS!!! These guys were supposed to be at certain bus stops at certain times. This was a total fail. And when you travel through London, there will certainly be traffic, so getting from Point A to Point B takes waaaay too long! Our free ticket on the Bus came from the London Pass.
What we did SUPER RIGHT on Day 2:
- We hung out with my 2nd cousin and her son! They live in the area and were a delight to navigate and tour London with!
- They used the London Tube. This was brilliant. We wish we had known how to navigate this better and would have used it Day 1, instead of the many Ubers and horrid bus.
- We enjoyed a relaxing ride on the Thames Clipper. That was enjoyable to see London from the river, plus we were able to jump off and do a quick tour of Greenwich, which was just fabulous!
- The absolute WIN of the day, was High Tea at the Hilton London on Park Lane. High Tea there is VERY pricey, but my cousin was able to procure a “Buy 1, Get 1 Free”, and though still extremely pricey at $23.20 per person, it was AN EXPERIENCE! Fantastic! We enjoyed scones, jasmine tea & juices, tea sandwiches and an incredible assortment of amazing & artisticly-made desserts! It was truly fun & worth the experience to do in London for newbies like us!
Places we didn’t make it to, but would still love to see:
- The Churchill Arms
- Natural History Museum
- Westminster Cathedral
- St. Pancras Hotel near Kings Cross
There are truly so many wonderful places to see and do, but one thing I learned. You cannot see London in a day (or two). The traffic alone will stilt you a bit. However, if you can learn to navigate on the Tube, you might get to see a lot more and enjoy the experience even better!
We ended our trip with making our way to Gatwick, England (where our last hotel was for the night). We arrived at the Horley train station and called an Uber to get to our hotel… and an Uber to get to dinner… and an Uber to get back to the hotel. haha Remember in UK, pretty much no air conditioning (for you spoiled Americans). Gatwick Airport was as good as any airport and we finally made our way1063.93 back to Miami, Florida. Gatwick to Miami ticket was booked through FlyFar and was our priciest ticket traveling through Europe. Price was $489.93 each. FlyFar ended up working great for us, though not everyone gives a positive review. We flew home with Norwegian Airlines. Our total air travel traveling from Miami to Germany – to Manchester, England – and then from London Gatwick back home to Miami, Fl was $1,060.93 each. Not 1st Class, a little cramped on luggage and quick connecting flights (you gotta run!), but pretty great on COSTS if you want to travel!