PERFECT TRIP: 4 DAYS VISITING LONDON
My best graduation gift for being done with college was a trip to London. I had wanted to see it for so many years and the perfect time came for it. One of Europe’s most vibrant capitals and one of the world’s largest cities.
London has something and everything for everyone!
London is truly a city where the ‘old’ is ‘mixed’ with the new. It is a city that never sleeps. Its culture and vibrant life know no end, and while life there goes faster and faster, people still find time to stop by the Big Ben or Westminister Abbey, take a selfie or take a stroll through London’s Hyde Park.
THE 5 DAYS “MARATHON” STARTS HERE
I was only visiting London for 4 days, so I did not really have much time to see absolutely everything. That’s fine, though, as it gives me an excuse to return and dive once more into this beautiful city’s life, culture, and history.
I like to refer to my visit to London as “a marathon” because it’s exactly what I did. I got up early every day and was out and about on the streets, going from one place to another /mostly on foot/ from 9 AM until 10 PM. If you have already been to London, you would understand how physically exhausting this could be. But let me tell you: it was totally worth it!
After arriving in London, flying in from St.Louis, MO, I was shocked by how big the city actually is. It was a clear early September day and I was able to see the central part from the airplane window. Although I had previously been to Istanbul, Seattle, Chicago and other big cities, there was something about London I immediately found charming, classy and upbeat. Needless to say, my impressions were all proven right!
THE FUN BEGINS…
After settling in, I grabbed my backpack and went down to Trafalgar Square. Took a little stroll through the national gallery, went down to Piccadilly and a bit by the river. That little introduction to the city finished my first day.
After doing a thorough research on best places to visit in London, opening hours and admission’s fees — remember this was my college graduation gift, so the excitement might have been big, but the finances were limited — I figured out the best way to tour the city was to purchase a 3-Day City Pass with Travel Card. It gave me an advantage to quickly enter the museums and unlimited rides on all public transportation.
I first went to the Westminister Abbey and the Buckingham Palace, which seem to be the most visited attractions in London. While the Abbey has a sacred meaning for the Royal family, I believe what’s best about it is the architecture and design. Being preserved for so long, hiding so much history between its walls, and still standing as a type of an emblem to the British monarchy. I would say that Westminister Abbey should be anyone’ stop#1 when in London.
/Tip for Trip: sometimes there is a long line of people waiting to go in, so be there early/
The Buckingham Palace is simply magnificent! It’s size, history and the guards in front simply give a sense of aristocracy. It takes the tourists back to the 17-18 centuries where carriages with horses were arriving in the front of the palace, aristocrats and government officials were participating in decision makings, formal dinners including ballroom dances, and long nights full of the typical /which I find fabulous/ British sense of humor!
Unfortunately, it was my understanding that it is very hard for tourists to be given access inside the palace as it is still a functioning residency to the Royal family, so changing of the guards is the most one can see.
Being a history geek, I made it a point to visit as many historical and royal-related places a possible, but my most favorite one was the Windsor Castle.
Being located outside of London, I finally reached it after changing a train and two subway lines. The village of Windsor is small and cute, and it has the typical ‘tourist trap’ area where one can spend all of his money on souvenirs. The palace itself is gigantic! It is still used and if the Royal Standard is flown above it means that the Queen is in residence. There are organized tours but the best way to tour it is at your own pace. There is so much to see and lots of significant information about the history and the way it was built, as well as its location. The self-guided headsets come in handy and are included in the London City Pass.
“THE LITTEL GIRL” INSPIRATION
I found it amazing to be walking on grounds where knights, kings, and queens were once walking. To enter hallways, dining halls and chambers where royalties have lived /only one wing of the castle is currently used by the Royal family/. If you like fairytales and heroic stories, then Windsor Castle is a place you should visit too.
Kensington Palace was my other favorite place. Dating back to Queen Victoria and her beloved Albert, the palace holds a rich history of art and objects presenting their life and her ruling years.
Whitehall, the Household Cavalry Museum, The Guard’s Museum are also places I would highly recommend if you care about world history.
The famous Tower of London, the Tower Bridge Exhibition, and the London Bridge are more about the “dark” side of the city. It is not a secret that once upon a time they had ‘strange’ methods of murder, punishments, and imprisonment.
The parliament and Big Ben are always there for nice selfies and/or group photos.
THE SUN NEVER SETS OVER THE BRITISH EMPIRE
The British Museum is one of the biggest museums in the world with various collections and exhibits. The Science museum of London is highly recommended for people of all ages as it tells the stories of many new beginnings and inventions that took place in Europe. Both will take about 4-6 hours to tour, so plan on a full day for those. Admission to both is free.
The Victoria and Albert Museum was my favorite one. Art, art and more art that perhaps other than in Paris, you won’t see elsewhere.
AT THE END OF THE DAY VISITING LONDON IS A PIECE OF CAKE
Although huge, London is not hard to get around. Using the tube/subway is the best and fastest way. Purchasing the travel card was the best decision ever as it eased the process a lot. As long as you are not afraid of huge crowds of people and going deep under the ground, you will be fine. There are signs everywhere, as well as kind personnel to assist and guide you. Tubes are frequent and fast.
For the 4 days I spent in London I can see that I saw the Best of London, but London also got the best out of me. My feet were killing me and I was physically exhausted from running from one place to another /remember museums close around 4 or 5 PM/, jumping from tube to tube, but it was an amazing experience I would recommend to everyone
If you’re up to the challenge, I have a pre-made customized itinerary ready that you may purchase here for $25.