London Calling: My Three-Day Vacay in the Royal City
After spending 10 days sailing around the Greek islands, my good friend Wilson and I hopped on a plane and spent a few days in London, England. We stayed at a hostel called Palmers Lodge, in the Swiss Cottage neighborhood. Our single, curtained beds were the most privacy we’d each had in over a week, and we took full advantage of it, hitting the hay early and sleeping in all three days of our trip.
Check out our adventures exploring the Royal City and searching for red telephone booths below.
FISH & CHIPS, ESCALATORS, THE LONDON EYE & AVENGERS: ENDGAME
Our first day in London, Wilson and I checked off the most touristy items first. After all, we only had three days to see all that the big city has to offer! We started the day riding the London Eye, a huge, Coca-Cola-endorsed ferris wheel overlooking all of London. The ride lasts about 30 minutes, and although the views are great, the River Thames looked so brown — especially compared to the Aegean Sea.
We left the center city around 4:00 or 5:00 PM, so that we could make it back to our hostel in time to catch a movie. Yep, after nearly two weeks abroad, Wilson and I were both a bit homesick, and more than a bit tired. We’d hoped to catch The Hustle, but accidentally walked to the wrong movie theatre first and missed the window, so we wound up seeing Avengers: Endgame. Thankfully, the movie was great, despite the fact that for two tickets, a medium popcorn, a bottle of water and a milkshake, we spent upwards of $60 USD.
ABBEY ROAD, BIG BUS TOUR, NOTTING HILL, AND PIZZA
As I laid in bed the morning of Day Two, I looked up Abbey Road … and realized it was less than a mile away from our hostel! Being music lovers, Wilson and I had to go. We stocked up on caffeine at the Starbucks around the corner (sue us, we’re Americans…) and then started our day walking to the famous zebra crossing. Londoners driving along Abbey Road stop when they see you waiting to take a picture. I can’t imagine how annoying it must be to have to stop at Abbey Road everyday during your morning commute, but the locals genuinely didn’t seem to mind.
When we purchased our tickets for the London Eye, we got a deal on a Big Bus Tour. So, after we filled our photo library with snapshots at Abbey Road, we hopped on a big, red bus and toured the city. We got off the bus at Notting Hill, so that we could take our time exploring the colorful streets and peculiar shops. We sipped coffee at Amoret Specialty Coffee, and then hopped back on board to cross the Tower Bridge.
Once we were back in Swiss Cottage, we walked around the block to Fiddie’s Italian Kitchen, where Wilson and I each got our own pizza. For most of our meal, we were the only patrons in the shop. We chatted with the owner and his niece, and they told us about Camden Market and helped us plan our route from our hostel to Heathrow Airport. Within seconds of us arriving, the owner was able to guess we were from the Midwest — “because of the accents.” It was one of my favorite meals from the entire trip. Mmm, pizza …
CAMDEN MARKET, MORE FISH & CHIPS, AND RIDING THE TUBE
Our trip was short, but sweet. Day Three came quickly, and Wilson and I once again allowed ourselves the luxury of sleeping in. Once we were ready, we walked to Camden Market, a multi-block plaza of pop-up shops and restaurants. I was overwhelmed with options, and I didn’t wind up getting anything, other than one last lunch of fish and chips — complete with a cheerful conversation with the Londoner working the stand.
THE JOURNEY BACK HOME
After exploring Camden Market, Wilson and I packed up our things, checked out of Palmer’s Lodge, and rode the Tube all the way to Heathrow Airport - Terminal 5. We had a long day (33 hours, to be exact) of flights ahead of us, from London to Athens, Athens to Istanbul, Istanbul to Boston, and finally, Boston back to Minneapolis. London had been on my “must-see” list for awhile, and I couldn’t be happier that I finally got to see the Royal City and all its charms — the London Eye, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and the Tube — with a great friend.