Before I graduated last year in December I knew I wanted to go on a trip before I started job hunting. I love to travel but as most of us know it of course takes some saving up and sometimes we can’t seem to clear time from our busy schedules. Now that both of us are not in school, Tony and I figured it would be a great time to plan a fun adventure together. Not only was this going to be our first time in Europe but our first just the two of us vacation. Now, ever since the Spice Girls came into my life in the 90’s I was hit with a slight obsession with England. London has been my absolute dream destination, I didn’t even care that we’d be going in the middle of winter.
So that was that (well, after a lot of research on expedia) we booked our trip and we were going to London for a week! Our hotel was located just north of Hyde Park in an area called Bayswater. We found the location to be ideal with lots of things to do around. Tony and I decided that we weren’t going to do any tours or have an itinerary for the trip. We jotted down what we wanted to see and figured it out each day. With the help of a map of the city as well as a map of tube system we ventured off. It was great because we literally walked everywhere which really enabled us to get the most out of this incredible city. Tony and I absolutely loved London, we can’t wait to go back some day.
Here are a few highlights from our trip…
After an overnight flight we arrived at the Gatwick airport Tuesday at around 12:30 pm. From there we hit the ground running, quite literally because we had to catch our train into the city. I highly recommend getting an oyster card if you plan on using public transport it made getting around the city a breeze. Upon a cheap eats recommendation by many we went to Pret a Manger for dinner. That was the first and last time we went to Pret as I then spent the night throwing up haha. What a way to start the trip!
We started the day off in the best way possible with breakfast at Granger & Co in Notting Hill. This place was absolutely amazing. I ordered ricotta hotcakes with bannanas and honey syrup with a fresh mint tea. Tony got corn fritters with bacon, tomatos, and spinach with a cappuccino (his personal favorite). Both dishes were excellent but those hotcakes left Tony dreaming of them the rest of the trip.
Hyde Park Since we were walking distance from Hyde park it became our morning routine to take a stroll through it. Hyde park is one of London’s largest parks covering over 350 acres. We only got to see a fraction of this park as at the time we didn’t realize how big it was. The best part, for me at least, was that by the north west entrance there was a small cafe that had coffee with the most delectable french croissants I’ve had. Did I mention I had A LOT of croissants with coffee on this trip? Although the trees were bare it was such a lovely park. I can only imagine what it’s like in full bloom.
Museums After leaving Hyde park we walked around Kennsington trying to find the Natural History and Science museums. We actually loved not knowing where we were going because we would go down side roads filled with lovely architecture and little shops. Tony and I were both completely enamored with the architecture. The walk was filled with “Wow, how lovely is that building? Can you imagine living here?” We ended up spending the whole day at the two museums. A lot of the museums in London are free so it’s a great option when on a budget. By the time we were done with both museums it was time for dinner. We headed back to our hotel to see what we could find around the area. As soon as I saw Nando’s pop up on google maps, it was a done deal, we were off for a “cheeky Nando’s” as the Brits say. Nando’s is a casual restaurant that serves South African peri-peri style chicken. It offers quality food at an affordable price. You will see later on we became slightly obsessed with this place.
Kew Gardens Originally we wanted to take a day trip to a neighboring city such as Brighton or Bath. Not wanting to be bothered with booking train tickets we opted to go to Kew Gardens. Kew Gardens is a UNESCO world heritage site that was founded in 1840 and it houses the worlds largest collection of living plants. My favorite part was seeing the Japanese style garden as well as the pagoda. Sadly, the temperate house (commissioned in 1859!) was closed for renovation. Since we spent the whole day here we grabbed a late lunch inside the park at the Orangery. We got back to our hotel to hang out before finding some dinner. I was so tired from walking all day that when it came to dinner we opted for Nando’s again. Oh geez, two nights in a row, how adventurous of us.