Friday, December 02, 2016
We are SUPER delayed in posting this, but better late than never right? We can't believe it ...
We are SUPER delayed in posting this, but better late than never right? We can't believe it has been two months since we returned from our girls' trip to London & Paris with our amazing mom aka best friend. We had all been to both cities before, but this time around we really appreciated everything we saw and experienced.
In case you didn't know, our mom is extremely lucky. She has won a trip to Paris (when we were babies!), multiple trips to New York, a home makeover from the Hallmark Christmas decorating team, and so much more.
*Mom, if you're reading this please text us & let us know the other big things you've won so we can add them to this list!
Most recently, she won 2 roundtrip business class tickets to London – which spurred this adventure of ours, and made us super spoiled. We wish we could fly business class on all international flights, but luckily flying economy one-way each kept us grounded (haha).
P.S. Make sure you double check that your hair straightener or styling tools are dual voltage before you leave the US. We just assumed ours was & learned pretty quickly that without a converter we fried our straightener and had to let our natural curls flow the entire trip.
We spent our first full day in London being the ultimate tourists.
After waking up in our small but perfectly located Airbnb apartment, we walked along the streets of Kensington to the South Kensington Tube station, and stopped at Green Park. After setting foot in both Hyde Park and Green Park, we made our way over to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guards. We killed time by taking pictures in front of the gate & meeting friendly tourists along the way. They also clued us in to the fact that the changing of the guards only happens every other day at 11:30am...but it was much better to find out from them that we chose the wrong day to visit than wait patiently at the gates for another 30 minutes. Plus, we were fortunate enough to see the changing of the guards years before on our last family trip to London.
Our next stop was lunch, since most of our vacation plans revolve around meals. We had heard from friends that Dishoom was the place to go for trendy Indian food, and they were right. We went to the location in Covent Garden, admired the Instagram-worthy pubs along the way, and had quite the feast once we were seated. This place is super popular among locals and tourists alike, so be ready to wait! It is well worth it.
We continued our tourist day by walking up Regent Street until it crossed Oxford Street. We were so exhausted from all of the walking (& jet lag!) that we only went into one store: Top Shop. B first fell in love with Top Shop when she studied abroad in Milan in 2011 and took a weekend trip to London, and even though Top Shop now exists in the LA, the London location is SO much better.
Fun fact: The prices at Top Shop seem so expensive because they basically double the UK price since that's what the exchange rate used to be. Too bad they don't go by current exchange rates, because that would make the prices about 25% off.
We went on a full day tour to a "Secret Place," Bath and Stonehenge!
We woke up bright and early on Monday morning to catch the tube, along with the working world, to Westminster Station. From there, we walked across the bridge, got a great view of the London Eye, Big Ben and Parliament, and patiently awaited our tour bus along with all of the other excited tourists. Mom did her research and booked us on an English Bus Tour, which we highly recommend!
Our first stop was at a "secret place" that we wish we could tell you the name of but we're sworn to secrecy. What we can tell you is that it is a small town in the English countryside with a ton of history & appearances in Downton Abbey, Harry Potter and more!
If you're really interested in the name of the town, send us a DM on Instagram & we'll tell you!
Our next stop was Bath in Somerset. Famous for its natural hot springs and Roman bath, architecture, and Jane Austen. We were given a couple of hours to roam the city and stop for lunch, so we used the time to meet-up with our friend Sheri and eat Cornish pasties. She's currently studying law in Bristol and was nice enough to take the train over to see us. It was quite the reunion considering it had been over two years since we'd seen each other!
After we said our goodbyes and almost missed our bus since we were waiting for it on a parallel street (oops!), we were on our way to the last tour stop: Stonehenge. The last time we visited Stonehenge, it was December – aka freezing, windy and rainy. And just like the weather, our pictures were horrible too.
This time, the rain clouds had dissipated just in time, the sky was blue, and the weather (although a bit chilly) was perfect! Our mom made friends with a nice lady who also happens to live in Arizona, and we explored the ancient stones together, patiently waited for the perfect shot, and stood in awe of these huge stones that were transported over a hundred miles before the wheel was even invented. One word? Wow.
On our last full day in London, we spent our time in Notting Hill and Kensington.
After stopping for our favorite affordable chocolate croissants, we easily maneuvered the London bus system thanks to the public transport option on Google Maps.
Special shoutout to Verizon's awesome international data plan for giving us our usual plan for only $10/day. Hint: only do it on one phone and have the others connect to your wifi via hotspot to avoid paying $10/day per phone!
We stopped for unique veggie burgers at Gourmet Burger Kitchen prior to exploring Notting Hill. P.S. We love any restaurant that lets you substitute a veggie patty on any burger! We walked along Portobello Road, went down a couple of small streets to admire the famous pastel homes and of course had to stop outside the bookstore where Hugh Grant worked in the movie Notting Hill. Although we weren't as impressed with Notting Hill as we hoped to be (I'm pretty sure we saw a drug deal go down right in front of us and it's the only place we visited that we felt like we needed to hide our camera), I think we may have been there on the wrong day or in the wrong place, because no one else seems to have the same opinion of it as we do.
The best looking colorful and pastel houses that we saw were in Chelsea! On the way back to our side of town, we stopped outside the Instagram-famous Churchill Arms. A classic pub meets Thai food restaurant, the interior is decked out with all things Winston Churchill. Our dad would have loved this place!! We also explored the shopping haven & maze that is Harrods, walked around the gardens of Kensington Palace, and had cappuccinos and hot chocolate outside the palace pretending we were guests of Prince Harry and/or William & Kate.
Since two of us were flying Delta Business Class out of London Heathrow airport, we were able to enjoy the amenities of the Virgin Atlantic lounge! We thought we were spoiled with business class seats, but a menu full of free food, cocktails & real Champagne from Champagne, France, I think the lounge was our favorite part. If you ever have a chance to visit the lounge with your ticket or pay for entrance if you have a super long layover, do it!
We hope you enjoyed reliving our trip to London with us! Stay tuned for another blog detailing the 2nd half of our adventure – hint: we went to Paris & fell in love all over again.
P.S. Thank you mom for such an amazing trip & adventure!! XO