Travel is returning to normal, masks are disappearing, and we have nearly exhausted all possible weekend trips by train. Now, we are taking advantage of easy direct flights from Lyon. And to be honest, we are close to exhausting these options too. When we had a free weekend between our Easter Amsterdam weekend and my work trip to the US, we searched direct flights and decided to “let it be” London.
Jordan and I both have visited London before, but separately. Our previous trips, albeit both short weekend trips, took the pressure off to have a jam-packed sightseeing weekend this time. We could be free spirits and go at our own pace.
Hands down, the best thing about visiting London is speaking the same language. As an expat, it is a breath of fresh air and a break on the brain. Don’t get me wrong; I love trying to speak the local language when we visit other countries. But I also like to be able to walk into an English pharmacy and say, “my head has sinus pressure and hurts,” without complications. (True story, I did this in London!) Our visit to London would be a chance to recalibrate and try to remember how to speak normally.
We strolled through the streets of London as tourists, but it felt like we were in a familiar city. It almost felt like we weren’t even in a foreign country, as the atmosphere was similar to New York City. Piccadilly Circus is like the Times Square of London, just like the tube and the metro takes you to all ends of each city. I maintain my opinion after my first visit to London in 2013 that “London is just another large city.” But this time, it’s exactly what I needed for a weekend trip.
Here’s what we did on our leisurely London weekend:
1. Took a ride in the London Eye. The temporary turned permanent installation lasted about thirty minutes and gave us a panoramic view of London from all angles.
2. Admired Big Ben, who we think should have a more proper English name and be “Sir Benjamin the Grand” instead. But that would be wrong altogether, as the tower is actually named The Elizabeth Tower. Big Ben is the bell that sits inside it. After five years of renovations, we were one of the first to see the tower without scaffolding. The removal of the scaffolding in the Spring of 2022 revealed a shiny golden exterior and clocks hands restored to their original blue color.
3. Strolled through St. James Park in front of the Buckingham Palace and watched the swans (including the rare black swans) swim around. Fun fact: Did you know the queen owns all swans in England and Wales?
4. Waited outside the Buckingham Palace for tea time with Liz, although she never showed up.
5. Attended a St. George’s Day holiday party and listened to live music while relaxing on a comfy bean bag chair.
6. Walked along the Thames river, admiring all the city’s landmarks from the ground.
7. Ate dinner at The Water Rats, a live music venue and restaurant where Bob Dylan played his first show in the UK in 1962. That particular evening’s show was a punk rock band, not to our taste, but the outfits were entertaining. We told our waiter we liked the pattern on one of the beer glasses, and the next thing we knew, we had three to take home with us. The other waiter didn’t like that he was giving them to us for free, but he called her a “nosey Nelly” and said they were going to break eventually anyways. We got to take them for free in the end!
8. Walked across the Tower Bridge, painted blue, white, and red for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, celebrating 25 years of Liz as queen, back in 1977. Liz celebrated her platinum jubilee in June 2022, marking 70 years as queen.
9. Took a boat cruise on the Thames river called “Horrible Histories: Terrible Thames.” It was a mix between a play and a boat ride, and it was hilarious. The play’s intended audience was kids, but we didn’t stop laughing the entire time. We learned about the horrible deaths over hundreds of years in the Thames river. It gives the Saône river by our house, which we call the “dead body river,” a run for its money. Or, count, if you will.
10. Ate at a proper fish and chips shop called The Laughing Halibut.
11. Attempted to buy last-minute Broadway show tickets to any show playing, but we were too late. We may have been having too much fun watching the sport “hurling” at a local bar on TV. I’m not sure how to describe hurling, but there’s a football field, a stick, a ball, and a lot of running. Maybe it’s a combination where hockey meets lacrosse meets rugby meets soccer? One of the team’s abbreviations was “WEX,” so naturally, that is who I was cheering for, as it was my nickname for a long time.
12. And I saved my favorite part of the weekend. Walking across the iconic Abbey Road, where the Beatles walked across for their 1969 “Abbey Road” album cover. I did a pretty job recreating the photo, and I would like to introduce “the Laura’s” formally.
London was a great weekend getaway for the two of us. We saw a lot on a whim, but it was still a relaxing weekend. The leisurely weekend allowed us to rejuvenate between our other travels for work and play.
Check out more London photos here!
Much more is coming soon to the blog: our May travels to Berlin, Ghent, and Cinque Terre. Upcoming June travels include b for a long birthday weekend getaway, Budapest, Madrid, and Copenhagen.