I have had a love affair with England ever since I can remember.
My dream was to visit London and in February 1999, it happened. I left employment the month before, and used a very small portion of my annuity to make my dream come true. I knew if I didn't make the trip then, I'd probably never make it. Finding a travel partner for a quick, "on-a-shoestring" 4-day trip wasn't difficult ~ my good friend, Mary, is always willing to go and do whenever I suggest wild and crazy ideas!
Neither of us had ever been to England. We planned the entire trip with the help of the Internet (a fabulous resource), travel books (mainly Fodor's), videotapes from the public library, and dozens of helpful tips and suggestions received from friends.
After spending some time thinking about the places we each definitely wanted to visit, Mary and I met together one night at her house, with a pad of paper, travel guides, and several pots of tea. We prioritized our choices and, working together as good friends do, compiled a list of "Must See" and "If We Have Time" choices. We were also careful to build in some "downtime," allowing for serendipitous adventures. (Which later proved a very wise move, indeed.)
I spent the next weeks poring over a good map of London, and gradually created the itinerary, grouping each days' activities by location. This allowed us to spend time in a different general location of town every day.
This online London Travel Journal is based on the written journal I kept during the trip. The journal was indispensable ~ daily activities were outlined, addresses listed, pertinent information written down, all of which contributed to a perfect trip abroad.
And now, I invite you to pour yourself a cup of tea and vicariously experience Four Wonderful Magical Days in London ...
Wednesday - Departure
Thursday - London
Friday - London
Saturday - London
Sunday - London
Monday - The Trip Home
- British Airways classified our carry-on by weight, not size. I was a couple of pounds over (because this was my only luggage), but they let it go.
- Make sure you read up on tipping customs before you leave. I know there were a couple of times we were supposed to tip, but we didn't realize it. Think they'll remember our faces????
- I've said it before and I'll say it again ~ in my opinion, it would be beneficial to brush up ever so slightly on general British history and the monarchy before you visit certain sites. It will add so much more to your experience.
- Allow plenty of time if traveling by tube. I think next time, I will utilize the taxi more, if possible. The tubes may be over-crowded and it takes a long time sometimes to get from Point A to Point B.
- London is definitely a walking city, so be prepared and in shape to WALK!
- If you plan on taking the Gatwick Express, make sure you're on the right train! We took the wrong "Express" upon arrival, one that stopped at every little station. We did catch the correct Gatwick Express (non-stop) on our departure. Also, be aware that when you leave London, if you are flying out on American Airlines or British Air, you can check your bags through to Gatwick directly from Victoria Station. Very convenient.
More Travel Tips
I Will Never Forget...
- Hearing the ambulance horn, just like they sound in all the old British movies
- Red double-decker buses whirling around the traffic circles
- Darling little bakeries and flower shops, one on almost every corner
- The friendliness of everyone we met
- The black/brown/grey landscape of Londoners' clothing ~ no other colors, almost without exception.
- Porridge at breakfast! Ymmmm....served with Demerara sugar and cinnamon
- The way it felt to lay my hand on Chaucer's tomb
- The way it felt to look up at the Dome in St. Paul's
- The way it felt to leave