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July 10, 2018

London Travel Guide { 2018 Edition }

Lots of people have asked about my recent 2 week trip to Europe so I figured, why not share all about the trip here on the blog?! Our European trip started in London, so this post is all about the great city that is London, England. Let me start by saying that London was a pleasant surprise for me. I had been there once in high school and enjoyed it SO much more the 2nd time around. I thought Paris was going to hold all the charm, but London gave it a run for its money with its charming architecture & rich history.

Before we left on this trip, we asked friends & family for advice and tips who had been there before and had a big master note of a bunch of recommendations, but didn’t have anything scheduled (besides my photo session in London… see that HERE). I personally think this is the way to go because it gives you the flexibility to wake up and do what you want that day, but you also have some guiding advice so you’re not left doing a lot of day-of research or just trying to randomly find things to do. So here’s how our time in London played out…

GETTING THERE. STAYING THERE. GETTING AROUND

  • We got really great flights from Boston to London (Gatwick) on Norwegian Air – $265 which included our checked bags, 2 in-flight meals & a drink that we forgot were included. Comfy seats & TVs on the back of every seat… definitely 2 thumbs up for this airline. Once at Gatwick, we just took a train into the city, then an Uber to the flat we were staying at.
  • Once in London, we relied on Ubers & the Tube to get around the city. And a whole lot of walking. (I’ve never been happier that sneakers are trendy right now)
  • We stayed in the Chelsea area of London and it was SO. DANG. CUTE. You could walk around these neighborhoods for days, and as you’ll see in the photos below, I grew quite an obsession with London’s doors.


RECOMMENDATIONS

DishoomI’m gonna be real. This is a MUST DO (if you like Indian food). This was one of my favorite meals I’ve ever. had. Chicken Ruby (their version of chicken tikka masala), lamb samosas, garlic naan, and roomali roti and their Kalamansi Smash to drink. My mouth is watering just writing this. There are a few locations and we chose the Shoreditch one. Atmosphere: 10/10.

Sky Garden: “London’s Highest Public Garden”… aka an amazing place to get a drink & enjoy 360 degree views of the city. Think of it as equivalents to One World Observatory in NYC or The View in San Fran. It’s free to get up there, but cocktails at the top are on the expensive side (not surprising).

Last Minute Theater Tickets: We were able to snatch day of tickets to Lion King from the TKTS booth in Leicester Square. Be sure to get there right at 10am when they open for your best shot at the tickets you want. The line can get long but it moves pretty quickly, so grab a coffee and hop in line.

Explore Shoreditch: Shoreditch. aka the hip neighborhood. Every city has ’em and this is London’s. Pop up shops made from shipping containers and ping-pong bars (Bounce is amazing!).

 

 

THINGS I WISH I KNEW…

If you want to do a tour bus, do it on the first day. We took the Big Bus tour on the 2nd day we were there, after already having a day of exploring. If this is something you’re interested in, I would recommend doing it the very first day you’re in the city. By the time we saw it on the 2nd day, we had already explored a lot of the areas on the tour so I think this would have been better on the first day.

Turns out Camden Market is a day time activity. We tried to go there around 5pm, not knowing that most of the vendor booths are only open during the daytime. Oops. Next time!

Big Ben is under construction. And when I say construction, I mean it’s completely covered in scaffolding. For the next two years supposedly… heads up to anyone traveling there in the near future!

TOP 3 MOST USEFUL THINGS PACKED:

  1. Kattee Photo Backpack – while in Europe I traveled with my camera body, my 50mm f/1.2 L & my 24-70mm f/2.8 II L lenses. This little backpack was perfect to carry those, and some loose miscellaneous items.
  2. Fat Face Rain Coat – turns out it rains quite a bit in London, so this jacket was PERFECT to wear out & about in the city.
  3. My iPhone with a daily international data plan – Shelling out for the international data plan while you’re traveling abroad is SO worth it in my book (just one person traveling in your party at least). We could look at directions, book Ubers, research things nearby… a must have in my opinion.


LONDON IN PHOTOS

London Travel Guide 2018

London Travel Guide 2018
London Travel Guide 2018

London Door Photos

London Street Photography Doors of London Photo London Street Photography London Street Photography London Travel Guide
London Street Photography London Street Photography

Overall, I’d say London was the perfect way to start our 2 week Europe adventure and dip our toes into European culture. It was helpful to start in a city where so many things are different (I still stick by the driving in London was the craziest of any of the places we went in Europe!) but we were not also facing a language barrier. My only language barrier here is trying to make my attempt at a British accent not sound Australian… it’s a work in progress.