We have wanted to go to Europe for so long and finally decided we just had to make it happen. We waited for an amazing deal to pop up and back in January one finally did. We found a great deal through Norwegian Airlines on a direct flight from Oakland to Stockholm. I’ve always wanted to go to Sweden but it wasn’t at the top of either of our lists for European destinations. We decided it made more sense to go with the best deals instead of our first preference on places to go so we booked our trip for September! We then found a very inexpensive flight from Stockholm to London so a few months later we added that on.
We flew all night and landed in Stockholm. We then immediately grabbed our bags and got back in security to head to London. It was a super long day of travel and we got to our hotel in London around 8pm. We dropped off our bags and hit the street to find some food. We immediately fell in love with London and had so much fun looking around taking it all in. We stayed in a VERY cozy little hotel that barely fit the two of us. Tim could almost touch the walls on either side with his arms stretched out! Sunday morning we rose bright and early and set out to check out Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square before the crowds got too crazy. There was a huge bike race going on so it was a little crazy over there. We ended up wandering over to Westminster Cathedral and popped our heads in and a service was starting. We decided to grab a book and take a seat. I am so glad we did because it was so neat to experience a Roman Catholic Mass in such a grand cathedral right in the heart of London. It was absolutely beautiful. They talked a lot about charity and how to interact with those who are in need. It was a really beautiful message.
We checked out a few of the free museums and sights and then bundled up for our Jack the Ripper tour that night. We learned all about the famed Jack the Ripper serial killer and went around with a guide who showed us where all the events took place. It was super interesting hearing about what the east side of London was like back in 1888. I am so glad I wasn’t there at that time! So much poverty and disease. We finished the night at the most amazing curry house. The combination of being cold and starving made it the best place ever. We will always remember to head over to Brick Lane for some amazing curry.
Monday was such a fun day. We went to the Winston Churchhill War Rooms and Westminster Abbey. Honestly I didn’t know a ton about Churchhill so it was really neat to learn more about his life and what a big player he was in the war. Westminster Abbey absolutely blew me away. I think I about lost my breath when I went inside. It was definitely the most grand, extravagant thing I had ever seen. It ended up being one of my favorite parts of the trip.
Monday was also the start of the rain. It pretty much rained nonstop after that. Luckily we had brought a little umbrella but we still got soaked most of the time. We decided to just give in and enjoy the sogginess. J We walked over towards Big Ben and while walking across the bridge we noticed a bunch of these Eastern Europeans playing the 3 cup and a ball game. Everyone kept guessing wrong where the ball was so Tim said he wanted to try. He guessed wrong (we later learned the people guessing wrong were all working undercover for them and it was all a trick.) Long story short we were super naïve and lost more than we would care to admit. Ahh we were so dumb. Now we know! We tried to make ourselves feel better by considering it a donation to people who probably needed the money more than we did. We finished the day with the National Gallery and some Fish and Chips and Vegetable Soup to warm up from the rain.
Tuesday Tim had a meeting at Oxford so we took the train over there. It was really neat to get out of the city and see a different part of England. I wandered the small town on my own while Tim was in the meeting and then we met up later to grab some lunch and do some more sightseeing. We looked around a few of the houses and then went in some of the churches and cathedrals. It’s amazing just how old everything is. You can also tell that we didn't bring any suitcases and just two backpacks because we're pretty much wearing 3 different outfits the whole trip hahaha
Wednesday we did a few more museums. I absolutely loved the Tower of London. Right as we walked in a tour was starting so we got to learn a ton about the tower. Much of it was quite morbid with all the torture devices and beheadings but it was pretty fascinating. We saw original armor and skeletons and of course the Crown Jewels. By that point it was pouring rain and we were pretty soaked.
We headed over to St. Paul’s Cathedral to do some indoor sightseeing. Little did I know that this would be one of my favorite parts of London right next to Westminster Abbey. There was an audio tour as well so we learned hundreds of neat facts. We were super tired and our feet were killing us by this point but we decided to walk up the 528 steep steps to the top of the cathedral. I am so glad we did! It was so fun going up the tiny stone stairwells and seeing the cathedral from the top looking down. We continued up to the top where there was an outdoor 365 degree view outside. It was breathtaking and probably much better than the London Eye would have been. It was a little nerve wracking though since we were being pelted with rain and the wind was blowing. Well worth it though for sure!
We finished off the day at Kensington Palace which was lovely. I loved the gardens and all the open space. Much different than Buckingham Palace which is right in the middle of everything. This was also one of the rare moments where we actually got a photo together! We offered to take a few people's pictures to then ask if they would take one of us but quite a few people declined! It was kind of comical. I think some people must prefer selfies now. So weird. Anyways, stay tuned for Norway!!