I booked my three day layover in London on a whim. I had no idea what I was going to do or who I was going to explore the city with (at the time I figured it would just be me, myself and I). I just figured the short stop would be a good way to break up the 14 hour flight to Delhi.
Shortly after purchasing my ticket, plans started to emerge. My sister, Britt, agreed to come along. Then, I booked us a hotel in Covent Garden and we notified our Swiss friends, Marissa and her adorable son James, about our journey across the pond. Marissa and James ended up making the trek to see us along with the fashionable Hannah, a Londoner, who had been on holiday in Switzerland at the time. Hannah, lucky for us, became our unofficial guide around the city.
Below are some of the more notable sights and stories from my time in London!
1. Big Ben
Britt and I arrived in London on Thursday morning. We dropped our bags, grabbed coffee for fuel, and headed to the meeting point of our SANDEMANs walking tour. I absolutely love this company! They offer “free” walking tours in 18 cities across Europe. The reason that there is no overhead cost is because the tours operate on a tip only basis, which also means the tour guides are always friendly and extremely knowledgeable. Our SANDEMANs tour guide brought us around Central London, stopping at Covent Garden, Trafalgar Sqaure, St. James’s Palace, Buckingham Palace and ending with the iconic Big Ben. Usually, I prefer to stay away from big touristy areas while traveling, but I find Big Ben to be so alluring!
(For more information on the SANDEMANs tours click here.)
2. Neal’s Yard
Neal’s Yard! Colorful, vibrant, Neal’s Yard! When I first saw Pinterest posts of the small hidden courtyard within Covent Garden, I know I had to go. Neal’s Yard is quaint, picturesque and home to a few artsy and organic shops. I took about a million photos here and treated myself to a big green smoothie.
On Friday, Britt and I met up with Marissa, Hannah and James for lunch at Dishoom, a trendy Indian restaurant serving up the most delicious curries. To be honest, (and this may sound silly considering I am going to be living there for a month) I have never eaten Indian food before. Therefore, I couldn’t quite figure out the menu, so Hannah took the liberty of ordering a diverse collection of small plates to share. Everything was so flavorful and the naan was to die for!
4. Borough Market
After 17 months, I broke my vegetarianism. But here’s the thing. I didn’t just taste meat. I ate it. A lot of it. Chicken. Duck. Lamb. Bacon. Ham. Yeah, I broke it and I broke it GOOD. But, whatever. It made my experience at Borough Market a very satisfying one. Hannah directed us around the market, where we stopped and sampled anything and everything we could. I had bites of duck confit, paella, brie, fresh fruit, and the list goes on. Once we got a taste of what each vendor was selling, we agreed the duck confit we tried at the very beginning was the best. So, we went back and each ordered our own sandwich. And since that didn’t seem to be enough, we finished off our lunch with some very sinful, cream-filled donuts by Bread Ahead Bakery.
5. Tate Museum
The Tate Museum offers free modern and contemporary art exhibits, but what drew us there was the 10th story terrace with an incredible view of London. We didn’t stay long, but I thought it was a great way to see the city from above without having to spend a lot of money on something like the London Eye.
6. Seven Dials Hotel
Seven Dials is a small monument erected in the center of a seven way intersection. Down the street is the Seven Dials Hotel, where we took residence during our stay in London. If any of you are planning a visit to London soon and want a cheap place to stay, I highly recommend this hotel! It was clean, simple, and centrally located— everything a budget hotel should be.