I feel like I’ve been writing about my trip to Ireland and London forever – which is possibly true, since it happened way back in August – but I have to admit I’ve been enjoying lingering over these posts nonetheless. While travel itself is always incredible, I happen to quite enjoy the before and after parts too – the planning and research that goes into preparing for a trip, and the reminiscing and poring over photos that happens once you return.
And honestly, when you’re dealing with destinations as wonderful as Ireland and London, a little bit of nostalgia is well-deserved, in my opinion. That said, I must admit I’m sad this is my very last post about my great Eurotrip of 2013. However, I’m happy to be wrapping things up with a look back at two action-packed and awesome days in England.
Our third day began by temporarily escaping London for Highclere Castle, which I wrote about in more detail here. However, I can’t resist mentioning it again because of this:
Yep, that view doesn’t get old. After we dragged ourselves away from lovely Highclere, we headed back to London and to my old stomping grounds. When I spent the summer in London way back in 2006, my dorm was located near King’s Cross Station. I thought it would be fun to stop back over there and take a trip down memory lane. Not to mention that King’s Cross is, of course, the home of Harry Potter’s Platform 9 3/4, which provided additional motivation for a visit.
After catching a glimpse of Platform 9 3/4 – but being too embarrassed to line up with the other tourists, don the provided Gryffindor scarf, and get our picture taken with the baggage cart – we walked to my old dorm…which was covered from top to bottom in scaffolding. So, it wasn’t quite the lovely trip down memory lane I envisioned, but I didn’t mind, as just a couple blocks away we found one of my favorite things…
Though I have attempted to make my own version of Pimm’s Cups before, there’s nothing quite like the real thing. We stopped by the Norfolk Arms to get our cocktails, which were refreshing and delicious. Behold, heaven in a cup:
We decided we liked the look of the restaurant enough to stay for dinner, so we moved indoors to a real table and ordered our meals. I had tasty lamb kebabs served over couscous for my entree:
For dessert, I ordered the salted caramel ice cream with toasted sesame seeds. Little did I know this literally meant scoops of ice cream rolled in sesame seeds – which turned out to be a unique but surprisingly delicious concoction.
My mom, however, stuck to the more traditional Banoffee pie for dessert:
After dinner, we hopped on the Tube and headed across town, getting off near Big Ben. Our destination was the London Eye, but we paused to enjoy sunset views of the Thames and Big Ben before making our way there:
(Which, if I’m being honest, was not quite as idyllic an experience as it sounds, as Westminster Bridge was absolutely packed with tourists and, I couldn’t help but worry, pickpockets)
After wading through the crush of people, we made our way to the London Eye. Though the Eye is super pricey – if my conversions are correct, we paid at least $45/person for our tickets – the Eye is a cool experience nonetheless. In my book, it’s fun to go in the evening and watch the sun set over London. The city looks beautiful as it lights up for the night!
As we walked back to the Tube after our spin around the Eye, I snapped these photos along the Thames. London in the evening is seriously gorgeous in my book!
The next day, we began with a visit to Kensington Palace. The part of the palace that tourists can visit is home to a variety of quirky displays; we saw everything from a chronology of Queen Victoria’s life to recreations of the court of William & Mary to walls lined with Princess Di-themed wallpaper.
But I think it’s safe to say that our very favorite part of Kensington Palace was the special exhibit on royal fashion, featuring dresses from Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret, and Princess Di. The exhibit started with Queen Elizabeth’s gowns, which were the most classic and elegant:
It continued with Princess Margaret’s, which were more bold and daring (and fun!):
And it concluded with Princess Diana’s gowns. These gowns – from the ’80s and ’90s – were the most recent creations, but in some respects all that ’80s gaudiness actually made them look the most dated:
After oohing and aahing over the dresses, we headed outside to the equally lovely gardens. The gardens, which are hidden away behind thick hedges and gated off from pedestrian access, are stunning. I would’ve loved to get a closer look at some of the flowers, but even from afar the garden was wonderful.
After the elegance of Kensington, we headed to the equally fancy Fortnum & Mason for high tea. While I wrote more about our tea experience here, another picture of the drool-worthy scones is surely in order:
Filled to the brim with tea, sandwiches, and pastries, we headed back to our hotel for the saddest part of our trip: packing to go home! And after squeezing all our newly-acquired souvenirs back into our suitcases, we ventured back out to our neighborhood pub for a final meal in London. It seemed only fitting to end with fish ‘n chips, don’t you think?
The next morning, we arrived at Heathrow at an ungodly early hour and headed back across the pond. I was sad to leave but, if I’m being honest, I would have to admit that I’m already scheming about when my next visit to London will be…