A Whirlwind Guide to London

Photo by A.Reid

What’s a trip to Europe without a stop through at least one country? One of the best things about Europe, in my opinion, is the close proximity of its countries. It’s always fun to compare distances between states in the US and countries in Europe. It may take 7 hours to drive through Florida alone and, in Europe, those 7 hours would put you through at least 2 countries! On my recent trip to Ireland, I tacked on a quick visit to London. My timing was tight and the itinerary was lengthy but it was too much to resist so a whirlwind 48-hour trip to London ensued.

One of the reasons I love large cities like London and New York is the walkability. Most of the highlights are easily walkable and allow you to explore the alleyways, shops, restaurants, and pubs along the way. Several of the classic, historical sites in London are close to each other and I quickly stopped by many of them including Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, London Bridge, and The Globe. I was in absolute awe! While I’m not from England, I felt very connected to London — it was as though our American history textbooks and literature were coming to life. Much of America’s story is England’s story and it was exhilarating to see everything in person.

Tower Bridge (not the London Bridge, contrary to popular belief!)
A typical gray day in London
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

A friend of mine studied abroad in London and provided me with a suggested itinerary, including the Borough Market, an open-air food, drink, and merchant market which quickly became a favorite. She also recommended checking out Gordon’s Wine Bar, established inside a cave during the 1890s. I really loved this place as you are truly cut off from the busy city life outside and above you. I was so isolated that I didn’t even realize the London Bridge terrorist attack was happening at that exact time.

I had been on the London Bridge just the night before and it was frightening to imagine that it could have been me walking along the bridge at that time. My family knew long before me and, not being able to immediately reach me, spiraled into a panic. As I returned to my Airbnb, the host knocked on me door and told me to call my family; they had called to see if I was safe. Thankfully I was and my family was grateful for having a contact number to reach me.

Pro Tip! Always leave your itinerary with someone back home. You should never travel without anyone knowing where you’ll be or how to get in touch with you in case of an emergency.

Borough Market
Big Ben, Westminster, and the London Eye. The site of the terrorist attack was on the bridge to the left.

A trip to London would be incomplete without a visit to the Royals, of course! I spent a good portion of an afternoon exploring Hyde Park, wandering around Kensington Palace, gawking at the immense amount of wealth displayed through golden statues, fences, and archways, and posing outside of Buckingham Palace. I didn’t have the chance to glimpse any of the Royal Family on this visit but the opportunity to tour the outside of their vast estates was incredible. It still amazes me that a country, such as England, continues to have a monarchy. I realize their powers are significantly limited at this point but it feels so archaic and unique to me. All hail the Queen!

Outside the gates of Buckingham Palace

All that remained now was a speedy cruise through the colorful Notting Hill and it was back to Ireland. Two short days flew by in London but it was well worth the visit!

The colorful homes of Notting Hill
Typical tourist photo? Check!

Published by Ali Gaffey

An American girl full of life and adventure!

One thought on “A Whirlwind Guide to London

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