Mich Le: Jotting My Journeys – London

With the inundating coverage on the royal wedding that we’ve recently been subjected to, I saw fit to write a post about my trips to London. I did go to the royal wedding, but we signed a waiver, so I cannot talk about it (haha, just kidding!). I have, however, been to London twice. The first time it was for work, so I did not get to do too much because we were on schedules.

Funny Story / #DontJudgeMe:  I decided to go shopping on my lunch break during my work trip to London.  What I didn’t realize is that our lunches were also restricted, too, so by the time I’d gotten back, they were 15-20 minutes into the meeting! And here I am walking in with a shopping bag!  Luckily, I was advised that the meeting was in progress in a different room, so I hid my bag in a storage area! I left it there until the next day, as if I’d went on lunch that day and bought it.  I felt so embarrassed – who does that?!

In case you’re wondering, it was a pair of boots. Boots that I received the most compliments on probably out of all my other shoes that year. They were nice, very expensive, but they weren’t of good quality. Talk about not getting what you paid for, geesh.  All of that ducking and diving and hiding for nothing!

My second trip to London, England was last year. By the way, London, England, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom are all different, geographically, though they are often used interchangeably. As a Historian at heart, I made sure that I was able to visit the places that I did not get to go to before which were primarily historical places. I had to finagle to get into one of those places (just my luck), but we’ll get to that. I travel a lot, but London, England remains in my top five favorite places to visit. It is actually number two.

Where I stayed:

I stayed at the Caesar Hotel London. It is a four star hotel in the Bayswater section. I’d rate this hotel one of my favorite hotels to have stayed at. It was in a quiet area on a quant gated street, with a serene garden of trees and sitting area directly across from it. The room had more space than I’d expected. If you’ve stayed in other hotels in Europe, you may have noticed that they tend to be on the smaller side.  The hotel had great architecture, and the hotel itself was immaculate. They also had room service which is always a plus in my book (Food in the middle of the night, maybe a drunken one (I said don’t judge me!), and I don’t have to go out and get anything?  Yes, please!)

What I liked the most about the hotel was actually the staff. They were very kind, welcoming, and helpful. Every time we were leaving out, but had a question, we went to the front desk, and they always provided us with a map, and they’d even outline things in order for us to get a better sense of where we were going. The only downside is that it is not close to major tourist sites, or in the liveliest of areas. It was close to shops, restaurants, and pubs, but to really “see” London, we had to catch the Tube, which was very easy to navigate. The hotel was very close to Paddington station and other Tube stops, so you did not have to go far for public transportation.  It was a great hotel, and I would recommend it.

Where I Went:Tower of London

Out of everything that I did, the highlights were my visits to the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey. I have watched many documentaries, movies, and series revolving around the English monarchies, so visiting these places had me like a kid in a candy shop!  If you aren’t familiar, The Tower of London is a castle in central London by the Tower and London bridges. It dates all the way back to about nine centuries ago and was home to many of the royal families and the subject of many siege attempts. It is most notable for the story of The Princes in the Tower (you should really look it up). Also, it houses the Crown Jewels including the crown, scepter, and other items, and they are actively in use by the Queen. Security is tight, and there is no standing around.

West Minster Abbey

I really was in awe when I visited Westminster Abbey. The day that I planned to go, they were having an event, and the limited number of tickets that they had outside of attending the event sold quickly. I pretty much scoured the internet for a long time trying to find tickets because I wanted to visit it so badly. I was lucky enough to find a third party site that I found tickets on.

Majestic is the perfect word to describe Westminster Abbey. Throughout history, it has served the purpose of sanctuary, a place of worship, coronation ceremonies, weddings, and even literally has kings and queens buried inside of it. It was amazing to see the tombs and memorials of some of the people that I actually read about. I was fascinated! Between The Tower of London and Westminster Abbey, I kept picturing the royal families that lived there, what they did, how they entertained visiting kings and queens, I imagined the children running up and down the hallways, the decisions that were made inside the walls, just everything that you could think of.  By the way, they had no heat or insulated walls (of course, it’s thousand year old castle), but it was cold and dark in certain areas.  I don’t know how they did it.

Big Ben and Buckingham Palace

I did see Big Ben, but I saw that the last time as well. Also, I did get a chance to see Buckingham Palace on both of my trips to London.  What I was most surprised about was the vulnerability. I’m quite sure that the royal home has high-tech security, but it just seems so open to have so many spectators just standing around. It was cool to see that the Queen’s Guards (the ones that wear the large furry black hat and red coat) actually do not move! How they stay so still, I do not know. It would also have been cool to get a glimpse of  Her Royal Highness.

Of course I did some shopping as well. I went to the legendary Selfridges and other stores, in the iconic shopping district of Oxford Street. I didn’t eat at anywhere special.

My Thoughts on London:

What I love the most about London is the fact that it is a melting pot. I compare it to New York often. When you visit New York City, you are seldom looked at as if you are out of place, you don’t feel uncomfortable, and you can just blend in. People don’t stare or gawk at you because you may dress or look a little differently, or for any other reasons, but you just blend in. London, at least in my experience, is the same way. I never feel uncomfortable or out of place. I’ve been to other European cities and countries where you feel the opposite. I also love the fact that at every corner, almost literally, there is a piece of history. There may be a castle, a bridge, or the iconic red telephone booths and red buses.

Well, if you read that long and detailed review about my trip to London, thank you! Check out some of my pictures below.

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Big Ben

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