Upon landing at the London City Airport, we hopped off the plane and looked for the best way to get across the city to our hotel near Paddington Station. Traveling by the Underground or the Tube, was our best friend while exploring London. The first thing we did was purchase an Oyster card (http://ow.ly/h85130czx6S). Which is a prepaid card that allows you to pay for your fare, quick and efficiently. Once we had our trek mapped out, we got on the next train so could drop off our million pounds of luggage at the hotel and start exploring.
The hardest thing about traveling east is the lovely red eye flights. After traveling through the night and being awake for 30+ hours, we needed coffee. We end up at a popular local shop called Grind Holborn, which was as tasty as it was beautiful. While at the coffee shop we started talking with a few locals who gave us their personal must see and do list of the city. From there we just started walking around. Everywhere you turned was something new and exciting to see. London is so vast and rich with culture and history that it’s pretty easy to get lost in its beauty.
The next morning, we got up pretty early considering this was a vacation (or holiday as they say in the UK). Our goal was to venture outside of London and head south to the coast. Since we decided not to rent a car, we had to use three different modes of transportation to get to our end destination. First we took the Tube to the Victoria national rail station. From there we took a scenic hour and a half train ride outside of the city. Because the train didn’t drop us off right where we needed to be, we jumped on a public bus to the Seven Sisters, right in between Brighton and Eastbourne, UK.
Once we got off the bus, we had a very hard decision to make, which trail we wanted take. There are technically three different 1-mile trails to choose from that all bring you to different location to view the Sisters. We chose to go across the river and walk down the left side, which took us right to the base of the majestic white rock cliffs.
The best view to see the faces of the cliffs is from the hills west down the beach. If you take the trail we did at the wrong time of the day, you won’t be able to access the hills. Luckily, we we were there around low tide. During low tide, the river drops enough that you’re able to walk across to the right side of it and access the hills for a great view. Now mind you, we had to walk across an old wood dock, which was like walking on a balance beam but we made it. The hassle was well worth the view and standing at the base made you feel really small.
This was our exploring London day. Now, typically we would much rather be out exploring nature, but London has so much history to offer within it's walls that we had to see it for ourselves. First thing first though: coffee. We got recommendations to check out Workshop Coffee so we grabbed some coffee from this cool little shop and headed right to Big Ben. I think it’s safe to say we photographed every angle of this beauty. The day before, we attempted to explore this area in the afternoon. It was so overwhelming with how many people were all trying to get a selfie with Big Ben so we thought, lets get up early the next day and see how that goes. Good thing we decided to do it that way because there wasn’t nearly as many people. Nice thing about being around Big Ben is there is tons to see all within walking distance. The London Eye sits right across the river and Tower Bridge is just a short walk along the riverfront.
Eating was low on the priority list. If we didn’t force ourselves to stop exploring and eat, we probably would have starved the entire time in London. There was just so much to see and not enough time, but we made sure to make time for a stop at The Breakfast Club. From the line out the door to the 90’s hiphop music playing inside, this place was top notch. The food was delicious and the retro aesthetics were pleasing to the eye. Did I mention the food was amazing?! It was definitely our favorite restaurant we ate at while in London.
To add to our eventful day, we rented bikes and rode around Notting Hill. Street after street were brightly painted row homes. We had seen pictures of a particular set of homes that we really wanted to see but we just couldn’t seem to find them. We asked a couple different people to point us in the right direction but nothing was panning out. Either we couldn’t explain it to them well enough or they just really didn’t know where they were amongst all the colored homes because we just kept pedaling. It wasn’t until we did some research on the phone the hotel gave us, that we realized it was on Lancaster Road, a few roads down from where we were. We were determined to find them and we did!
By the end of everything we accomplished that day, we needed to unwind. Hyde Park was just down the street so we took a stroll through the park to let our minds and cameras have a break. Day 3 was action packed and we honestly couldn’t have fit anything else into it.
Our last day in London came too quickly. We visited one last coffee shop called TAP Coffee in SoHo. In order to get cheaper flights to next stop in Edinburgh, we had to do some research and we came across Ryanair. The tickets we found were dirt cheap in comparison to most airlines in the states. The problem was that the airport they flew out of was so far away from the London city centre. Only option: purchase another hour train ride to the London Stansted Airport, north of the city. Only having to pay $40 a plane ticket made the hassle of traveling to the airport worth it.
Coming into this trip, we really didn't have much planned out. We had a good idea of the things we wanted to see and do, but realistically we would have needed a few more weeks to really enjoy all that this city/country has to offer.
Because we didn’t get to everything we wanted to, here is a list of places and things we hope to see and do in the future:
Farm Girl Cafe
Enjoy afternoon tea
Cereal Killer Cafe
Visit a Lavender Field
The Royal Botanic Garden
More Coffee shops (can never have enough coffee)
Ok, maybe these are more things that I, Corinne, would rather do than Jake, but still! Next time!