We kicked off our two-week European vacation with a weekend in London. Admittedly, I didn’t do very much planning for London because: one, we were only there for two days; two, I planned on being jetlagged for one of those days; and three: I knew we could just walk out the door and have more of our fair share of things to do.
My planning for lack of planning actually planned out nicely (Ok, that was overkill) but there was one pre-flight decision I did take into account that made this a success: location. No matter where you’re traveling to, location is and will always be the upmost important factor for the tone and success of your trip. We stayed at the Le Méridien Piccadilly in the heart of Piccadilly Circus (in the heart of everything). This neighborhood reminded me of a mini Times Square – there were people everywhere, restaurants galore and easy access to cabs and the Tube (London’s subway system). We purchased day passes for the Tube and primarily used this for our transportation. It was really affordable and easy to navigate – just like any American underground train system.
We ventured off one morning for an early breakfast at The Wolseley, a beautifully designed restaurant serving traditional English breakfast and afternoon tea, before heading to Platform 9 ¾ (yes, like Harry Potter). Being the talented nerd wizard that I am, this was a bit of a bucket list moment for me and I’m really happy to say it did not let me down. Being from Central Florida, I’m used to over-hyped tourist attractions but this one was actually really fun and the best part, free! Theres a queue, two charismatic wizards (one for taking photos, one for making sure your scarf blows in the wind) and a trolley going through the brick wall with a sign that says Platform 9 ¾. It’s pretty kitchy but really fun. Word to the wise, get there early to avoid long lines.
Next, we took the Tube to Buckingham Palace where we just so happened to arrive around the changing of the guard. There were thousands of people all herded along to make sure they didn’t disrupt the ceremony which I’m sure would have been really cool to watch if not for the thousands of other people there to do the same thing. It was hot, it got boring, we left. It was amazing to see the Palace but I’m not sure the changing of the guard is something I’ll be doing again.
Lastly, we hopped back on the Tube and went to Big Ben where even more tourists were. We took our selfies and went back to our hotel. I’m not one for tourist attractions, though I do find them essential when visiting a destination for the first time. Do them but don’t stick around if you’re not enjoying them (and don’t feel bad for not enjoying them either). Taking vacations to other countries is something not everyone is able to do. Appreciate the moment but don’t stick to a schedule or a notion that you have to do certain things a certain way and allow yourself to form your own itinerary.
After Big Ben, we ventured back to the Le Méridien Piccadilly and enjoyed some rest. I genuinely enjoyed staying at this particular hotel because it provided a quiet retreat in the midst of the chaotic and bustling city. A plush bed, city views and quiet, at-home comforts made it the perfect place to recharge before heading out to our next venture — Florence, Italy.
I’ll be sharing more from my trip with travel diaries from each destination and traveling tips in the coming weeks so stay tuned! Follow along on Instagram for more pics and things to do from my travels.