(Warning: This blog post is somewhat lengthy. Read at your own risk.)
Hiya! (as they say in England)
So after getting some much needed sleep these last two days, I’ve decided to finally fill you all in on my amazing weekend in the UK! Where do I even beginnnn?! My mind is racing with things to share and stories to tell, but I’m going to quickly try and organize it all and put into words what an awesome and fun-filled weekend I had with 4 great girls.
On Friday we left Turku and drove about 2 hours to Tampere Finland, where we boarded our flight to London Stansted Airport. We landed in London around 9pm. We then boarded a bus where we drove an hour and a half or so into the city of London. From there we then had to take one of their sweet double decker buses to our hostel, New Cross Inn…..and whatttt an experience that was in itself!
We gathered together our handful of cash to pay the guy at the “front desk”…which was more like a closet. We then journeyed up the narrow stairwell to the top floor where we arrived at our room, filled with 6 bunk beds and a sink. haha It really wasn’t all that bad. We just had to make our beds with the sheets provided and then we set our alarms for the journey we were about to start the next morning.
We woke up bright and early (not getting the best nights sleep due to the sirens and somewhat loud neighborhood we were in), but that was the least of our worries as we were in LONDON! So we showered and headed down to our heavily anticipated “continental breakfast” that was provided by the hostel.
It was in a very cute little common room and consisted of instant coffee, toast and jam, and corn flakes. Hey, you can’t complain much when it’s free! So we fueled up and headed off to explore. Side note: Shout out to my roomie Brittany Hedderson for being an awesome mapster and keeping us from getting lost and on track! We definitely wouldn’t have made it around as easily as we did without her and her iphone navigation skills 🙂
Our first main stop was Buckingham Palace, to watch the Changing of the Guards Ceremony. We didn’t quite realize how many people were going to be there (ha whoops)… yet somewhat pushed our way through the crowd and made it pretty close to the gates to watch the band play and see as much of it as we could.
We then stopped to warm up and get a REAL cup of coffee at a cute little pub:
Our next main stop was Westminster Abbey. We took a very lovely audio-guided tour and it was absolutely breathtaking and truly an enlightening experience. We were however starving at this point so we headed to Grace Bar for our first lunch in England 🙂 And mannnnnn was it YUMMY! Everyone had Fish and Chips, but I decided to be the odd one out and get this mouthwatering Steak and Ale Pie. I saw it on the menu and my eyes just wouldn’t let go of the words! haha It just sounded too good and too authentic to pass up. We also enjoyed our first beer of the trip. The dynamic duo made it an undeniably fulfilling and satisfying meal. Definitely a great start to the trip as far as meals go!
After a bit more exploring and walking we ended up taking a night cruise tour on the Thames River. Even though we sort of “bumped into it” that night, it ended up being one of the best parts of the trip in my book. It was a great way to see different highlighted parts of the city and breathtaking views. Much like most of our trip, whenever we seemed lost or go in the wrong direction, we ended up in an even better place than we planned. But I mean, it’s London, you can’t really go wrong!
After a little “pick me up” in the form of coffee (with maybe some added lovin…aka Bailey’s) lol we ventured to Oxford Street and did some shopping. Hit up an awesome souvenir shop (where I actually bought my warmth for the next day in the form of an awesome and cheep hoodie, because I was an idiot and I guess thought the weather was going to be way warmer than it was)…I guess my foreshadowing was a bit too positive. Can you blame me though when I live in Finland?! Anywayssss, after that we headed to what ended up being SOHO and at awesome bar called Balans…where we were served up some great drinks and desserts and entertainment, mainly in the form of our very “poofy” (his words, not mine) waiter named Martin. He was a hoot. It was a great ending to a very long and exhausting first day of touring!
We woke up bright and early then next day and headed off to probably one of my favorite parts of the trip, Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Club!
We went on a guided tour and learned A LOT about the grounds and the famous tournament. It was a bit rainy and cold, but it was by far one of the most amazing sporting event locations I will ever get to see first hand and I was truly in awe. I know my dad is very jealous as he reads this right now. (Sorry to rub it in Big T!)….I took you to the US Open and I’m taking you to Wimbledon now (unfortunately in the form of pictures) lol….I think either the French Open or Australian Open is next one on our list! 😉
After we journeyed back to the city on the train, we headed to take a tour through the Tower of London. After a pit stop at Starbucks to get some more caffeine and a snack in us, we headed into the amazing structure. This blog would end up taking you an hour to read (if it hasn’t already :/) if I told you all we saw inside. But by far the coolest was the Crown Jewels. Seeing the past king and queen’s crowns and garments was beyond amazing. I have never seen that much shine or “bling bling” if you will, in my life. Unreal.
We then stopped by the Shakespeare’s Globe. We were going to take a tour inside the actual theater, but then ended up running out of time, so we just walked around the museum and that was still very cool to see in itself.
The “Finns” 😉 wanted to do some more shopping before our next stop, so Brittany and I hopped into a cozy little pub and, starving once again, so we indulged in a nice appetizer and of course a cold refreshing beer. I decided to try a Czech beer, and was once again not disappointed. I don’t know if it was the fact that I was starving, thirsty, in a London pub, or the beer itself, but it tasted dang good. There was also a Manchester United game on in the pub that all the old men were watching….it was a pretty perfect English pub scene, and I was a pretty perfectly content girl!
After we got a little energized and met back up with the shoppers, it was finally time to make our way to the London Eye!! This was another highly anticipated spot on our list. We stepped into a very cool 4 minute 4D Experience before boarding our capsule. It stands 443 ft tall and is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe.
The views we were able to see from the top of the wheel were remarkable. Each capsule also had 4 or so little tablets that made it more interactive, where you could click on a building on the tablet and it would tell you what it was and a description of it; such as two buildings used in Mission Impossible movies and the Olympic Stadium. So cool.
We kept our sightseeing streak going and decided to make a pit stop at King’s Cross Station….and more importantly Platform 9 3/4 from Harry Potter 🙂 It was awesome to be in the actual train station where they filmed the movie, it was a surreal feeling for sure.
I asked a security guard if they actually filmed this part of the movie somewhere else and he said that it was actually filmed in between platforms 4 and 5 inside the station, so of course, we ventured inside to take a look.
Once again, we were very hungry. So we headed straight to find a great last dinner spot and ended up in a perfect pub, The Sussex, for one last English meal. I had a yummy Sunday Roast dinner and a Kronenbourg beer…it was the perfect last meal in London for me 🙂 For dessert, we did have to take a celebratory English Gin shot. It wasn’t the most tasty of things, but when you are in London, you just gotta such it up and throw it back 😉
Our flight back to Finland was early the next morning, so we decided to just stay up late and head to the airport around 3am to save a few bucks. As we headed back to gather our luggage that we left at the hostel, we thought our entertainment in London was over…
….untillll, we decided to stop in the New Cross Inn Bar that was below our hostel; which we had acquired a special bond with as we could hear and pretty much feel it’s thriving crowd both nights we stayed there! haha…and THAT ended up being a pretty great way to go out! We got to listen to a very fun and unique band play and meet some locals, it was definitely an interesting experience.
All right, so the rest of the trip just involved no sleep and traveling, so I will spare you those details, if you haven’t already had enough of this very thorough post! (my apologies). But I will leave you with one last little thing….a little “taste” of something fun to come 🙂
Hope you enjoyed my London edition! It is definitely a city I will forever remember and love. I can’t even begin to say how blessed I am to be able to do and experience what I have. I couldn’t be more grateful.
Happy Lenten season to all, make these next 40 days filled with the Lord and only just a jump-start to growth with Him and to be the best people we can be…..I know that is my ultimate goal.
Love and miss you all!
P.S. A big special shout-out goes to Tyler Peschong for being beyond awesome and sending me some “fan mail”, which included hooking me up with the “goods” (aka Skippy Peanut Butter) ! lol…and the best card I’ve gotten in a long time. Thanks Ty!