Right now in the midst of this summer heat, all I can do is daydream and reflect on the perfectly cool summer temperatures we experienced in London. I packed some long sleeve shirts & even a light jacket in anticipation of feeling a bit chilly and it was wonderful. Now I hate to admit it, but when brainstorming places to visit in Europe, London wasn’t at the top of my list. I didn’t think there would be as much to see or do or take beautiful pictures of as there would be in other places like Spain or Italy (I knoooooow-crazy). But London sure proved me wrong! Wow.
The first thing we did after arriving in London was explore the neighborhood of Kensington where Prince William and Princess Kate live. The Kensington palace was gorgeous with long gardens and parks to walk. Our friends from home recently moved to London and were kind enough to let us stay at their flat :) It was a great spot to stay right near the tube and we enjoyed exploring the beautiful neighborhoods and stopping into pubs.
London is rich in culture and history and we got to see some of the neatest memorials, sites, and picturesque neighborhoods. Lili had been to London once before and had ideas for new ways to see things and learn. We bought tickets for a double decker tour bus that would not only take us to all the various places we wanted to see, but we’d get history & information along the way! Our first tour guide was a very animated woman with lots of stories that made us laugh and we thoroughly enjoyed her spirit as we took in views from the very front of the bus (best seats in the house). We stopped by Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and many other glorious sites before embarking on our Harry Potter tour (which was pretty much the ONLY thing we planned ahead of time for our trip).
Of course we took super touristy photos with selfie sticks and a family stack in a Telephone Booth (because with our large camera, zip up jackets, & tennis shoes), we weren’t touristy enough..
If you have been following along the Autumn Girl, you realize I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan. I have read and reread J.K Rowling’s books countless times. They just make me happy. My sisters are equally in love with Harry Potter and just as eager to do something Harry related. We met at the Bank Station in downtown London for a walking tour. Our tour guide kindly greeted us in a lovely Gryffindor scarf– a key sign for any Harry Potter fan to spot our group. The tour scoped out not only scenes from the movie, but certain places where J.K Rowling lived and worked and where she was inspired to create places like Diagon Alley and The Three Broomsticks. We also received snippets of history including places where Charles Dickens drank coffee and where a site was set up for Shakespeare theater. Below is a picture of the real “Goblet of Fire” from the 4th Harry Potter book.
This picture directly above is the Shakespeare theater along the London River. After our tour we visited the highly acclaimed Burough Market for some delicious scones and light bites :) I loved walking into the marketplace and exploring all the little shops. We treated ourselves to yummy cocktails and a chance to give our legs a bit of a rest.
We were blessed with a little sunnier weather on our second full day in London and decided to take a tour of the Tower of London. It was a toss up between that and Churchill’s War Rooms (which we have also heard are phenomenal) but we wanted to be outside. And castles just kind of call our names, you know? We walked all the way from King’s Cross to the Tower of London and stopped to snap a picture in front of Saint Paul’s Cathedral on the way. It’s so pretty!
The Tower of London is a historical castle that hosts the crown jewels and was a prison during the 16th and 17th centuries. It was even used as a training space during WWI. At one point in time, there were an array of live animals living at the castle including alligators, a lion, and even a polar bear. Because what else do you gift royalty?
We spent two and a half hours at the Tower of London. We were entranced by its history. As we approached afternoon, the sun drifted away and a light drizzle set in so we made our way back towards Kensington. We stopped into Fortnum & Mason for high tea and it was the best decision we made. We all thought it was a highlight from our trip! We ate sandwiches, scones, sipped our choice of tea, and enjoyed delicious dessert as it rained outside. Such a cozy moment. If you visit London, high tea is a MUST!
We had the best time in London and I hope to return some day and visit the country side and tour some of the sites we didn’t get a chance to visit.