Feb 7th, 2019.
London fog is real, and it’s not just what you order at tea.
For our third weekend trip we chose to visit the iconic (and rainy) city of London, looking forward to a culture more closely resembling home (but hopefully with more corgis and scones).
Julia, Allison, Nicole, and myself headed to the airport Thursday after classes, planning to meet up with another group of girls later in the evening.
We left Barcelona sunny, 65, and fully unprepared for the climate change as we traveled north.
We landed in a cold and misty London, desperately in need of our airbnb for warmth and rest before the busy weekend ahead.
We woke up eager to start exploring and headed towards the infamous Regency Cafe for some classic English-style breakfast. The cozy cafe had the traditional diner charm, and we quite literally wolfed down the food and coffee.
After a bit of warmth, we hurried towards Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guards. The rain kept coming as we squished through the crowds towards the gates for a closer view.
Contrary to popular belief, you can not, I repeat can NOT, touch or mess with the guards outside the Buckingham Palace gates. This was easily the largest let down of London.
To make matters worse, the guards are INSIDE the gates at all times (except for the changing ceremony). I pictured corgis, the Queen, and a lot of mocking the stone faced guards and received nothing but a far off vantage point.
I blame movies for this.
After Buckingham we wandered through Hyde Park and jumped on the Tube towards Knotting Hill and the Portabella market.
Adorable stalls and food trucks crowded the intersection of Portabella road, a combination of boutique shops and second-hand stores laid their items out on tables and racks throughout the sidewalks and streets. We maneuvered the maze with umbrellas in hand.
We continued past Portabella into the classic Knotting Hill-style townhouses. Wandering the colorful and quaint streets in the rain was the epitome of London: some wind, some rain, and a whole lot of cafe breaks for tea.
Wanting to checkout another London staple before our reserved tea time, we tubed towards Kensington Palace. I, for one, was really hoping to catch a glimpse of Megan Markle (1 of 4 people I know of in the Royal family), but to no avail.
The ‘Palace’ itself was a little underwhelming, but the huge green lawns and golden gates made up for the somewhat tiny house.
Rain soaked and wind blown, we scrambled inside the Woolsey for our 3 o’clock tea reservation. Crystal chandeliers, marble floors, and waiters in coattails all greeted us upon entry, and the latter showed us to our table.
Safe to say, tea was a little extravagant but completely worth it.
We each had our own pot of loose-leaf tea, endless amounts of scones with clotted cream, and delicious pastries and finger sandwiches. I chose earl grey (a classic) for my tea of choice.
Refills were always brought, and we stayed for as long as we could, enjoying the endless cups and bites.
Full, happy, and warm, we explored the streets at night. In between downpours, we darted into stores and made our way towards Harrods, the famous and outrageously expensive mall.
After browsing clothes that cost more than our college educations, which is sadly not an exaggeration, we took the tube to King’s Cross Station to see the Harry Potter 9 & 3/4rs sign.
Breakfast with our large group was planned to be at The Breakfast Club, but a long wait time and hunger turned us to a close neighboring pub. My eggs Benedict and latte were to die for, and to top off breakfast the SUN started peaking out as we left.
All shocked and amazed at the lack of rain, we practically skipped towards the London Eye and Big Ben area from breakfast. London is a new city lit up by the sun, and spirits were high as we started to explore.
The Thames was beautiful in the light, which almost made up for the fact that Big Ben was completely covered in scaffolding. Honestly seeing the clock’s face was enough, not letting one ruined attraction overshadow the sun (get it? ha, ha).
Westminster Abbey was breathtaking and by far my favorite part of London. The iconic buildings stood out from the skyscraper skyline and the architecture was classic. We strolled around the area and lawns, faces turned towards the sun for as long as possible.
Julia, Allison, and I bought tickets to see the inside of the Abbot of Westminster. My expectations weren’t too high for the church, but they would’ve been blown away no matter what. Photography was prohibited within the grounds, but the tombs of the Kings & Queens of England’s past were intricate and ornate. The ceilings, tiles, and throne were all a must see.
Obviously we couldn’t leave London before a photo-booth picture, and we were lucky enough to find the perfect one in the Westminster Abbey area (and in the sun no less!).
Our London Eye time slot was at 1:30 p.m. so we headed across the bridge again and waited in line (or how the English say, “queued”) for the attraction around 1 p.m. and then jumped on the moving wheel.
The views were incredible both ways, London really is a sprawl of city in every direction.
Getting used to the buckets of tea in the afternoons, we were craving some after waiting for the unreliable bus in the cold after the Eye. After hopping off at the Tower Bridge stop, we searched for a cafe in the little side streets, and without difficulty, finally got our tea.
Warming our hands on the tea somewhat more than our stomachs, we finally felt thawed enough to venture back towards the Tower Bridge.
Seeing the classical blue arches in person was like walking in a postcard. The sun started to dip behind the clouds as we crossed (it couldn’t last forever) and we entered the Tower of London grounds to find refuge from the impending rain.
The Tower held a historical exhibit on the torture chambers and the Crown Jewels, two very different but equally as interesting things.
Julia had been feeling sick all day and really needed to rest so after the tower we retreated to the apartment for a little nap. Flash forward three hours, all three of us had the chills, the aches, and were horribly ill.
We ordered some mediocre chinese food to the airbnb and tried to sleep off the colds.
Sever high-grade fevers and a growing need to escape the apartment for a while later, we ventured out to grab a well-known waffle from a little stand down the street.
Asleep by 10 p.m., full of chocolate.
A 3:50 wake up call (*screams*) started our third day in London, all frantically packing for the airport.
We left with runny noses, wet coats, and a false sense comfort from hearing the English language.
All and all, I’m glad I had the opportunity to see the famous city, but it will never be written down as one of my favorites. Sunny Spain, here we come.