It’s been a dream of mine to head to the motherland since I was a little girl. This year, I got to realise that dream by travelling to London, Scotland (and Paris) and I am SO happy I waited until I was in my mid-twenties to go. Why? Maturity. A finer sense of sacrifice and, thus, a higher appreciation for what I was experiencing. I was in London from 5-9 May.
After crashing out at 8pm the night before, we slept until 6am. The Airbnb place (seriously, I can’t rave about Gavin & Lyn’s place enough) operated as an actual Bed & Breakfast, so they provided us an amazing array of croissants, pain au chocolat, bread, jam, coffee, and more.
Side note: I am now 80% pain au chocolat.
We had a conversation with our host, Gavin, and he recommended some places to go, some to avoid, and what he thought of London being a previous outsider (Scot). He also asked if we’d “slept right through.” Apparently, our hosts thought that we’d gotten to theirs and slept literally the entire day and night. They’d been deliberating whether to wake us up by making a lot of noise or not! We must have just slipped out without them noticing.
We spent a solid half hour then researching about what we would do and we decided we’d head to Oxford Circus area. We caught the tube from Leytonstone to Tottenham Court Road, had a bit more food at McDonalds (because we’re classy) and walked down Oxford Street.
One of the things that really struck out to me was how confused I felt seeing such modern stores with neon signs in some of the most beautiful architecture I’ve ever seen. You need to keep in mind that I’m Australian and Australians don’t have a huge amount of building history to look towards, considering our Indigenous culture lived differently. Smart people.
Watching period shows and movies as a child (and teenager… and adult) are the only real interaction I’ve had with this beautiful architecture. To see a neon H&M sign slapped onto it made me feel confused and a little taken aback. Ross, on the other hand, loves it!
It was at this point during the day, when Ross went to wander in to an Urban Outfitters that I chucked a little tizzy and said, “I’m not here to spend all my time in shops.” That was one of the indicators that Ross and I like to travel a little differently. We decided to divide and conquer the sites we wanted to see individually at this point.
Travel tip for London: Instead of walking up the main road, pop over to the one next to it. Some of the smaller streets are absolutely gorgeous and hold hidden gems.
I ventured up Regent Street towards Regent’s Park, passed the BBC, found the Royal Institute of British Architects, which had an exhibition (and some great toilets). I then sprinted up to Regent’s Park as I realised I was going to be late to catching up with Ross and was rewarded with a squirrel.
Side note: Squirrels are super-graceful.
I caught the tube from Regent’s Park to Oxford Circus to meet Ross. We then walked to Soho and explored the area, finding a bloody fantastic place called Mother Mash that we loved so much we went back to it on the 19th!
Soho has some fantastic places and shops. I found this amazing vintage clothing store and touched a bottle-green Hermes coat from the 1940s that they were selling for £900. £900!
I mentioned something about my legs dropping off in the title. Below, in list form because holy hell we walked around and saw a lot of places, is what we spent the rest of the afternoon doing:
- Walked to Piccadilly Circus
- Walked to Buckingham Palace via St James’s Park
- Walked all the way around Buckingham Palace (don’t do this. Just… don’t)
- Walked to Hyde Park via Wellington Arch (which features an Australian war memorial)
- Hired bikes and rode around Hyde Park
- Walked to Oxford Street via Grosvenor’s Park (which houses the US Embassy)
- Walked back to Soho for a beer
- Found an amazing stationery and print store in Carnaby St
- Found another pub to have a beer at and played a game of draughts
- Went back to Piccadilly Circus
- Had dinner at a random tiny noodles shop opposite a strip joint
- Caught the tube to Leytonstone from Piccadilly Circus (change at Holborn)
- Walked to our Airbnb
All-in-all, I did 29,170 steps (according to my Fitbit), was hangry multiple times, and still delighted about the squirrel.