So I’m way behind on this post, I know… London was a little crazy and I was a bit lazy by the end of my trip…
I was also sick of typing on my phone or iPad… I should have brought a keyboard for sure, so I ended up waiting until I got home to my laptop.
So I arrived in London on Sunday, the 23rd. I took the train from Wales to Paddington Station, which was cool, but kind of confusing to navigate. The stations I’d encountered before this were mostly in small towns… London is obviously a different beast.
It took about to 20 minutes to get to my hotel, which I thought was adorable, in Kensington. It was in a townhouse sort of location on a residential street, mixed in with some other hotels. My room, while cheap, was kind of a closet in the basement – clean, but very, very limited on space. But it’s London. Next time I think I will definitely look into doing an Airbnb – I was looking through listings and you can get a whole studio apartment for about the same per night.
The next day I went on kind of an extensive walking tour of London, which was a bad idea. I definitely should have taken the Tube or other public transportation to get around, because, at the end of the day, I was exhausted, my feet were sore and the only thing I got to kind of see in the way that I wanted to was the Tower of London – and even that I had to leave because they were closing for the night.
I walked past Buckingham Palace and Shakespeare’s Globe, I went across the Tower Bridge, I saw Big Ben from a distance and I spent a lot of time marching through random areas of the city and finally taking a taxi back to the hotel. So my recommendation is to not do that. I didn’t see much at all of what I wanted to see and only made myself very cranky.
The Tower of London was actually really cool, and I wish I could have spent more time there. If you’re not sure, it’s more of a castle and less of a tower, but it was considered to be very secure and a great place to keep your important prisoners, make your coinage and store your crown jewels, which are still housed there today. I did get to see those, which was exciting. Also, the actual tower housed an armory that had a very cool display of armor and detailed the other uses of the complex. Sadly, I wasn’t able to see a whole lot more, because they were closing.
The following day, Tuesday, I went out to Stonehenge, which is about an hour and a half out of London. I got there early enough in the day that I didn’t have to wait a terribly long time for a ticket, and there’s a very well done exhibit that you can look at before you go out and see the stones. This is helpful because it gives you some context, so you’re not just staring at some rocks.
It was a gorgeous day and I opted to tromp through the path in a farmer’s field rather than taking the shuttle bus from the exhibition area. There were some very not impressed sheep and cattle, but I enjoyed seeing the landscape and imagining what it used to be like.
Thanks to the gorgeous weather, I got some awesome pictures and I was very excited about that.
On Wednesday, my last full day in London, it was kind of rainy and dreary, and I needed to reorganize and repack for the trip home, so I stuck fairly close to the hotel, instead of running off across London to try and see the things I had missed. I did, however, walk over to Kensington Palace, which was only about a 25-minute walk from the Starbucks by my hotel. Yes, I am that girl.
I was able to buy a ticket on my phone, though they said it could be sold out, and when I got there, they simply printed it off and let me in. There weren’t a lot of people there, which was a little surprising considering they had an exhibit of Princess Diana’s clothes on display. But I was able to walk through the state rooms that are open to the public and see several areas where kings and queens have resided, notably Queen Victoria, who was born and raised there.
Currently, Prince William and Kate live there, as well as Prince Harry. Sadly, I did not catch sight of any of them and I assume the public area of the building is very far from where their residence is located.
Finally, on Thursday, I took a cab to London Heathrow, really, really early because I wasn’t sure how long security would take and I heard there were extra measures for passengers going to the US.
Getting through security was actually really simple and there was no line at all. The terminal kind of resembled a shopping mall and I spent my last pounds sterling on a book in the book store I found there. I grabbed food and went to the gate, and there it got a little more stressful – it was more than 30 minutes until boarding, but as soon as I got there, they called for passengers to Charlotte. They had the seating area blocked off and you had to scan your boarding pass and then they checked a list for your name before you were allowed in. If you were on the list, you had to go through further screening off to the side.
I expected to go through the normal boarding process from there with announcements and zones and whatnot, but they just loaded us all on to buses and we went to the plane and boarded first come first serve. So I ended up on the plane an hour early. And then we sat for another hour after we were supposed to leave. But it really wasn’t that bad. There was no wifi, which was a little disappointing because I had planned to do this blog entry among other things on the 9-hour flight, but I am happy to say I survived the whole thing with zero connectivity.
We arrived back in Charlotte just a little late, and it took about an hour to get through customs and get my luggage. Then it was surprisingly easy to get a Lyft from the arrivals area and get home.
My internal clock is all sorts of messed up and I spent most of yesterday trying not to sleep at weird times and listening to the cat tell me how disappointed she was in me for abandoning her like that.
Now I guess it’s back to real life and looking for a job! Sidenote: if you’re interested in hiring me, please feel free to reach out – find me on Twitter at @Jen_Hebert or check out my online resume here.
I’m unsure whether or not I’ll keep up the blog as I go through the rest of the summer looking for a job, because my life is a bit boring, but I do plan on at least doing a “Trip in Review” sort of post here sometime soon, so keep an eye out!