This trip was so packed full that today's blog will be part 1 of 2 which is the first two days that we were there and how we approached our travel! :) Please excuse all grammar errors in this stream of consciousness blog post.
We did so much this trip and I feel like I don't have enough photos to showcase it all, so let's get started. I honestly was very confused on how to approach this city which meant that we did alot of research and still ended up planning like nothing. We thought that we would take each day by sections of the city but that just doesn't always work out well so we just would wing it each day (per the usual on trips that we take tbh it always works out so whatever). Because we knew that we wouldn't always have signal, Tanner had starred all of the different recommendations that others had given us for places to eat and stop and saved that, so if we were in that area and hungry we would pull that up. It was super useful, so I recommend that.
There are a ZILLION restaurants in London..more than anywhere I've ever been and all of them have amazing, delicious foods. There is a pub on literally every corner, but then also all kinds of other options as well. They had stop in shops to get food literally everywhere so food was definitely never a problem. We only ate out in a big way 4 times and other nights would grab something quick like before the plays that we saw. The first night, we actually were able to go to a pub, get a bottle of wine to share, and two entrees for 35 pound which is around $50 which is a KILLER deal for London, so we would look around and look for 2 $$ typically when looking for a place to eat. We aren't picky on food, and actually prefer American bar food. Lol. Hashtag Shelby. I also don't eat much and Tanner eats like a linebacker, so it always works out that he just eats the remainder of what I don't finish.
We started off the food with a placed called The Breakfast Club. I actually accidently got the full English breakfast without even realizing it which is sausage (they offered veggie sausage which is what I got), eggs, beans, potatoes, and bloomer bread (just white fluffier bread classic in London), and Tanner got freaking gravy french fries (for breakfast-yes-he's crazy haha). He also lost 5lbs on this trip from all the walking and "not enough food"... #men
On the first day, we decided (per a recommendation from a client) to get on a double decker bus to see the city in that way and then decide where we wanted to spend more time after sight seeing from above. Tanner was pretty adamant that we would just get stuck in traffic taking a lot of time out of our day. That is essentially what happened so after 45 minutes of stand still type traffic on a double decker, we got off at Trafalgar Square and started exploring. We walked over to a Christmas market that was nearby and we knew the TKTS ticket booth would be there and we wanted to snag some theater tickets right off the bat.
I'm a HUGE theater buff. I'm obsessed and Shelby just announced they may reopen the theater here, and I'm so pumped and will be getting season tickets. I saw Harry Potter was on the list, and freaked, asked if they had tickets and he laughed at me in the first British accent I had really heard for the first time and said "no. Those are sold out for two years. You can try the ticket booth for cancellations but don't count on it." We decided that since we were there, and I REALLY wanted to see at least one show and preferably Christmas we would book "A Christmas Carol"...so cliche but always so good. It was SO SO GOOD! I don't know if it's because their accents were so genuine, or if because they did it up huge in this particular show, but man it was one of the best shows I've EVER seen (that was of course before I saw HP).
We kept walking all around that area, and hit up The National Gallery. This is a huge art gallery that goes through various artists and the stories behind their paintings. I guess I was just ALL IN this trip, but I just love to go into museums and actually enjoy them and not just be lame and walk around. So, I envision myself in the time frame that these artists lived, and their lives, and what it must have been like to be in their shoes and it really helps me to enjoy the art so I was in love with the National Gallery.
We decided that we had a few minutes so we would walk over to the HP box office and just see if they had any tickets. The guy asked us how long we had, and we said all week until Friday night. He said that he had tickets on Thursday and Friday night. I almost fell out, and then I got ready for him to tell me how much they would be. dun dun dun. Y'all...it honestly was a freaking deal, and the second he said the price Tanner says WE WILL TAKE THEM! They ended up being in the stalls (aka the front sitting area). We could see perfectly and were on the floor. I won't go into all details just yet, but I literally cried tears of joy during the first show, it was so unreal.
We had booked a Harry Potter walking tour at 330pm that day, honestly not knowing that our entire trip was going to be very HP based, so we wanted to get lunch and start heading that way. Turns out in London, when it's 40 degrees, that's actually REALLY FREAKING COLD. I don't know what it is, but we FROZE the entire trip. One day I wore 5 layers on top, and was still getting cold..ridiculous. We ended up only making it 1.5 hours into the tour, gave him a tip and then darted off to find a coffee shop to warm up! LOL! We learned all kinds of fun behind the scenes type information about the different buildings in London that were used during filming such as Gringotts. He kept saying that the ONLY production that could ever shut down parts of London for the day would be Warner Brothers and Harry Potter. haha! He also mentioned that one thing movies if they are ever based in London is ALWAYS ALWAYS show London in the best light and try to really show the best parts of London because it's such a touristy city that they want more people to come to build the economy. I'm sure the same thing goes for NYC which is why it always looks so glamorous even when it's sometimes so not glamorous. haha!
At the coffee shop, we started researching some things we wanted to do the next day and where to get dinner. We were starved. We decided to really take the night easy as we had been doing so much travel, enjoy the bottle of wine together, and we ended up having a blast getting a littttle (alot) tipsy (sorry mom) and laughing with all the British men in these pubs that were much more drunk that us. We had bangers and bash and this classic Henry's BBQ chicken thing. This one man legit was going down some stairs and he was around 65, and we all thought he would face plant. Like legit 100% certain he was going to and then somehow he caught his footing. Alcohol is ABUNDANT in London. People drink from the time that they wake up until they go to bed, and they really don't care how old you are. It was crazy, and honestly by the end, the drunk people were getting on my nerves. Let's be real, they were on my nerves on night 1 but I still love London ;) hahaha!
We went back to our cozy airbnb (ha-not), and snuggled up to go to bed and knew we would go run the next morning.
We woke up around 630 not realizing the sun doesn't come up until 730, ate breakfast at the place as we had went to the grocery store the night before and headed out to run The tower bridge, the London bridge, the Millenium bridge, through Borough Market (that wasn't up and running yet), and through the Christmas on the River shops. We both got on a super duper high during this run just thinking about what we were getting to experience and how blessed and fortunate we felt. It was such a beautiful run, and we ran back up through the area that we were staying (Whitechapel) to our place, showered, then headed out for the day. Of course, we stopped for breakfast #2 at that point.
Tanner was so annoyed by me trying to take photos on a run! HAHAHA! If he only knew how many times I've done that in my life that I was like "bro this is so normal-what is your issue?" hehehe.
After our run, we had a 1030 walking tour scheduled for the City of London, and our tour guide was Margaret who is actually from California with a degree in British history. She was literally so good at what she does, I cannot recommend her enough and it was through freewalkingtours.com. You could tell she just had a rhythm that she follows on her tours, and has her stuff known like the back of her hand so she spoke quickly and you were able to learn soo so much about the city of London in 2 hours and 3 miles of walking. London is so massive, but the actual city of London is only 1 sq mile and that didn't expand until the 1600's (I think) so we got to see some of the oldest parts of the city during that tour. We learned about the Monument, so right after we left the tour, we decided to go conquer it.
Far left: Samuel Johnson's famous cat who only ate oysters. Samuel has a lot of history but most notably, he wrote the first English dictionary.
Middle: the church that was the design for the first wedding cake and why wedding cakes are tiered in this way
Far right: MARGARET! Oh I just could have been BFF's with her!
The Monument is 311 steps to the top and was actually not caged until 1842 but people kept committing suicide (so sad) so they enclosed it, but I'm so thankful for that because otherwise it would have been terrifying. I say it wasn't that hard to climb 311 steps .. like at all...but I also run marathons and I don't even mean that to sound presumptuous although I'm sure it does, but just that YOU CAN DO IT! When we got to the bottom, they give out certificates so I did my best Grinch "soooo, I hear there's a check" but replaced check with certificate. Tanner laughed, they didn't understand, but I got my certificate! hahaha!
I wanted to see the Platform 9 3/4 that we had learned about on our Harry Potter tour, so we headed to King's Cross station at this point. Funny story is that this platform that JK Rowling describes in the book, she was actually confused on the London location so there is no platform between 9 and 10 at King's Cross, and so they put the makeshift one between 8 and 9 and just hope people don't notice. They don't. We waited in a long long line just to take these silly photos, but it was SO WORTH IT! ;)
A Christmas Carol was the play that was scheduled for our second night, so before we did that, we headed to check out Topshop and TKMaxx (their equivalent to the obvious TJ Maxx) to see how they compared. They were essentially the same, but a little more expensive just due to the money conversion. Tanner had never been in a Topshop so he really liked the men's shoes and ended up needing a pair because the ones he brought really hurt his feet.
From here, we grabbed a quick bite to eat before the pub and headed to the theater. This theater was small which was so nice because basically everyone had incredible seats. The man who played Scrooge was phenomenal, and they gave us free mince pies when we arrived. At the end, when Scrooge has the big meal for everyone, they started passing food from the back of the theater down the aisles to the stage which was this really cute twist that everyone excited and laughing, and then they poured fake snow on us. I've never had such fun during a play and not sure if that's normal for London or maybe even normal in NYC, but it was unique and really made the experience.
Up next -- > Days 3-5! This includes the Royal Run through Buckingham and Kensington Palace, Hyde Park, Winter Wonderland, and then all the changing of the guards, more food, more tours, and more plays! HIP HIP HORRAY!