First Stop: London – Part 1

My first ever international trip in 2013 started in London. I am hoping to head back there in 2020 so it will be really interesting to see how the city has changed in that time (if at all!).

I really enjoyed my first trip there, but I think I was also a little overwhelmed at being so far from home. I clearly remember getting off the long haul flight, hailing a black cab and just staring out the window thinking how different it all looked! The cab driver asked if we were okay as we were so quiet (a mixture of awe and jet lag).

We stayed at the Premier Inn London Southwark which was very comfortable. That evening we walked to the nearest pub we could find – the Charles Dickens. I must admit it was not the nicest meal I have ever had and I felt really really far from home. I have tried to find the pub again for this post but it looks like it must have shut down.

After a good sleep I woke up super excited to go exploring – wow I was in the UK!

We spent the day walking and walking, past the River Thames down to Parliament and the Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.

We found a stop for the hop-on hop-off bus and got on. The bus took us to Buckingham Palace just in time for the changing of the guard. We then walked through St James’ Park to 10 Downing Street and up to Trafalgar Square where we had lunch.

We then took a ferry ride back to our hotel and the commentator was really funny.

I was starting to feel very exhausted and was ready for bed but we had to soldier on to get used to the timezone. After dropping our things back at the hotel we took the tour bus back around to London Tower where we had received tickets for the Ceremony of the Keys. We ate dinner at the nearby Wagamama before meeting at the main entrance at 9:30pm. There was no photography or phones allowed but as a group we walked through the Tower of London as the guards locked up for the night.

Within one day we had seen so many famous sights, and so much history I couldn’t believe it.

The following day we headed off to Brighton which I will cover in next weeks post.

Where did you start on your first International adventure?

9 replies »

  1. If you mean the Dickens Inn then yes, its average but in a lovely location on St Katherine’s Dock. If you are in Southwark again, try the Dean Swift for a range of good beers and decent food (at least, that’s what it had when I went there a year or so ago). And, yes, London has changed in the last 6-7 years, although of course the big tourist attractions have not. The main changes I can think of are in the City where office and residential building has continued apace and in the north east quadrant of the city where the trendy bar areas have grown and extended as far north and east as Hoxton, Haggerston, Dalston, Bethnal Green, Hackney. If you find yourself in the City I recommend the 30 minute tour of the Temple of Mithras. It’s free (though you have to book) and interesting I think. Other good free (evening) entertainment can be found at Rough Trade East in Brick Lane though sometimes you have to buy the record of the band to see them. Time Out remains a great guide.

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  2. Ah I wondered if it was the Dickens Inn too! London’s a great first place to travel I think. I first visited when I still lived in Orkney (a tiny island!) so it was so overwhelming haha, it’s weird to think that I know it really well now. I don’t know what’s changed in 2013 – I thought the Shard would have still been being built back then! But I just saw your photo lol. Shoreditch is a really cool area now, that’s been changing over the years so I’d recommend a visit there and check out some of the quirky sites. 🙂

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  3. Great read. I’m glad you’re planning to come back in 2020, it’s such a great city and there’s so much to see. It has quite a different feel to it from season to season too so hopefully you’re returning at a different time of year and get some new experiences.
    I’d recommend venturing out to Camden or Greenwich next time.

    As for my first international experience, it was generally family holidays so my first international one would have been to Orlando. My first solo experience was funnily enough in 2013 and visiting Australia so going the other way 🙂

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